Historical Evidence Showing the Pope Changed the Sabbath to Sunday

There have been many attacks over the years from various churches, groups and individuals against Ellen White and Seventh-day Adventists regarding Mrs White stating that it was the pope who changed the Sabbath to the 1st day of the week (Sunday). The following is the quote from Mrs White:

"I saw that the Sabbath commandment was not nailed to the cross. If it was, the other nine commandments were; and we are at liberty to break them all, as well as to break the fourth. I saw that God had not changed the Sabbath, for He never changes. But the pope had changed it from the seventh to the first day of the week; for he was to change times and laws." (E.White, Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White, p.91; Also in 'A Word to the Little Flock', p.18)

The many attacks against the above claim say that Ellen White had no evidence to say such a thing, when in fact we do have written, historical evidence, showing that Pope Sylvester I (Pope between 314 - 335 A.D.) decreed the transfer of the Sabbath from the 7th day to the 1st. This evidence we will show on this page. But before we share the historical evidence, we just need to clear up the point that neither Ellen White nor ourselves are saying that Sunday observance started with Pope Sylvester in the 4th century. We are not saying this, as Roman Bishops were pushing to elevate Sunday to a prominent position over a century before Sylvester. You can see the evidence for that on our page THE ORIGIN OF SUNDAY WORSHIP on our Sabbath truth website. What Ellen White was pointing to is the fact that the Pope made the 'official' change, decreeing the Sabbath rest to be the 1st day instead of the 7th, fulfilling the prophecy in Daniel 7:25. So let us look at the evidence.

A German archbishop called Rabanus Maurus (780 - 856 A.D.), well known for his theological and scholarly work, so much so that he received the title 'Teacher of Germany', wrote an extensive collection of treatises gathered from 'early church fathers.' His treatise 'De Institutione Clericorum' (ad810) was later published by Jacques Paul Migne, a French priest in 1851 and also by Alois Knoepfler, a German theologian in 1900. We will now share an excerpt from both of these published works of 'De Institutione Clericorum.'

"Pope Sylvester first among the Romans ordered that the names of the days [of the week], which they previously called after the name of their gods, that is, [the day] of the Sun, [the day] of the Moon, [the day] of Mars, [the day] of Mercury, [the day] of Jupiter, [the day] of Venus, [the day] of Saturn, they should call feriae thereafter, that is the first feria, the second feria, the third feria, the fourth feria, the fifth feria, the sixth feria, because that in the beginning of Genesis it is written that God said concerning each day: on the first, 'Let there be light:; on the second, Let there be a firmament'; on the third, 'Let the earth bring forth verdure'; etc. But he [Sylvester] ordered [them] to call the Sabbath by the ancient term of the law, [to call] the first feria the 'Lord's day,' because on it the Lord rose [from the dead], Moreover, the same pope decreed that the rest of the Sabbath should be transferred rather to the Lord's day [Sunday], in order that on that day we should rest from worldly works for the praise of God." (source links below)

And there you have it ... "the same pope [Sylvester I] decreed that the rest of the Sabbath should be transferred rather to the Lord's day."

Words in [brackets] added for clarity. The above is translated from the Latin of both the published works mentioned above. The Latin text for the bolded part above is ... "Statuit autem idem papa ut otium Sabbati magis in diem Dominicam transferretur, ut ea die a terrenis operibus ad laudandum Deum vacaremus." - See the originals below:

(Jacques Paul Migne, Patrologiae Tomus CVII, 1851, Column 361 - See JPEG image of the page and the full original published work here)

(Alois Knoepfler, De Institutione Clericorum, 1900, p.152-154 - See JPEG image of the page and the full original published work here)

But how do we know for sure the above quote is speaking of Sylvester the First? Because as the above quote mentions, this Sylvester was the one who ordered the days of the week to be called 'Feriae.' And this historical book called 'Medii aevi Kalendarium Or, Dates, Charters, and Customs of the Middle Ages', Vol.II, 1841, page.137-138, dates Sylvester changing the days to 'Feria' in 316 A.D. (source) Which is the time of Sylvester the first.

What is interesting is that Pope Sylvester I was pope during the time that Emperor Constantine issued his 'Sunday rest law' edict in ad321. So as you can see, there is historical evidence to back up what Ellen White stated, saying that it was the Pope who changed the Sabbath to the 1st day (Sunday). While the movement to establish Sunday as the Sabbath had already begun before Pope Sylvester, he was the pope to decree the official change for the church, as seen in the above historical writings. There are even Catholic ministries admitting the same fact, like THIS ONE, stating that it was in fact Sylvester I who changed the Sabbath to Sunday (see offline screenshot here). Also a book called 'Life in Christ: Instructions in the Catholic Faith', written by a Catholic priest in 1958 states on page 243 ... "The Church, using the power of binding and loosing which Christ gave to the Pope, changed the Lord's day to Sunday." (source).

So those who attack Ellen White and Seventh-day Adventists regarding this claim need to take a look at the historical written evidence and see that Ellen White was not making a baseless claim, but was simply stating a fact and showing the truth regarding the prophecy of Daniel 7:25 wherein the 'little horn' power (the Papacy) was to 'think to change times and laws.' What is one of those 'times' and 'laws' that the Papacy thought to change? The Sabbath of God, from the 7th day (our Saturday) to the 1st (Sunday). This is a fact proven by historical written documents!

In relation to this, please see our page - THE MARK OF THE BEAST IS ALL TO DO WITH WORSHIP