[St. Pachomius Library]

Pope Symmachus I

V/VI Centuries
A convert from paganism, Symmachus was born in Sardinia and was an archdeaon when elected to the papacy in 498. A minority favored another candidate, Laurentius, and both pope and antipope were consecrated on the same day. The following year, a synod at Rome upheld the principle and practice of majority rule in papal elections. Laurentius' supporters accused the pope of assigning the date of Easter arbitrarily, despoiling the church, and fornicating. The emperor called a council in 501 to investigate the charges and took Symmachus' failure to appear as an admission of guilt. The two faction fought for four years in the streets of Rome. When the emperor intervened to end the unrest, he supported Symmachus, who provided refuge in Rome for North Africans fleeing the Arians. Symmachus died in 514.

Karen Rae Keck


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