Pope Saint Symmachus was pope from 498 to 514.
He was born on Sardinia, the son of Fortunatus. He was baptized in Rome, where he became archdeacon of the Church under Pope Anastasius II.
Symmachus was elected pope on November 22, 498. The archpriest of Santa Prassede, Laurentius, was elected pope that same day, by a dissenting minority faction with Byzantine sympathies. Laurentius was supported by Emperor Anastasius, but the Gothic King Theodoric the Great, in the end, ruled against him and in favor of Symmachus.
At a synod held at Rome on March 1, 499, Symmachus bestowed on Laurentius the diocesis of Nuceria in Campania. The synod also ordained that any cleric who sought to gain votes for a successor to the papacy during the lifetime of the pope, or who called conferences and held consultations for that purpose, should be deposed.
In 501, senator Festus, a supporter of Laurentius, accused Symmachus of various crimes. The pope refused to appear before the king to answer the charges, asserting that the secular ruler had no jurisdiction over the supreme pontiff. A synod, called Synodus Palmaris, convoked by King Theodoric on October 23, 502 confirmed this view, declaring that the decision "must be left to the judgment of God" and that Symmachus was to be regarded "as free from all the crimes of which he was accused". The synod also confirmed Symmachus' right to the papacy. A sheaf of forgeries, the so-called "Symmachean forgeries", were produced in the Curia to support Symmachus' claim that as pope he could not be called to account.
Nonetheless, Theodoric installed Laurentius in the Lateran Palace as pope. The schism continued for four years until Theodoric, deciding that the adherents of Laurentius were too pro-Byzantine, withdrew his support of Laurentius and had him removed from Rome, and opposition to Symmachus eventually was stilled.
The pope contributed large sums for the support of the Catholic bishops of Africa who were persecuted by the rulers of the Arian Vandals. He also aided the inhabitants of upper Italy who suffered from the invasions of barbarians.
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