From the Archives: Waldensian Legend Concerning the Donation of Constantine to Pope Sylvester (date unknown)
In the time of Constantine, Pope Sylvester accepted from the king a treasure, whereupon his colleagues protested, saying, “Has not the Lord given us a precept not to possess temporal and material goods? Indeed, did He not say to his disciples that they should ‘take neither gold, nor silver, nor money in their purse, neither two coats, nor shoes, nor yet staves,’ and that ‘the workman is worthy of his hire?’ And did He not also say, ‘If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me?’ It was indeed so, and we know that Peter said to Him, ‘Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee.’ ”
This same Sylvester, however, spoke otherwise to his brethren: “If you do not go along with me, I will cast you in exile.” Upon hearing this his brethren rejoiced, saying among themselves, “Let us praise God, for if indeed earthly benefits are forbidden to us, He will reward us in heaven, for has He not said that ‘every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundred fold, and shall inherit eternal life?’ ”
In the night, as they continued the controversy with Sylvester, a voice sounded from heaven, saying, “Today poison has been introduced into the Church of God.” Upon hearing this voice, the Poor were confirmed in their position with renewed courage, and they were expelled from the synagogue. Thus was the word fulfilled which said, “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.”
And in this wise were the Poor scattered over all the earth. But as they were going, they said to Sylvester, ...