|Papacy began||22 November 498|
|Papacy ended||19 July 514|
|Born||Sardinia, Vandal Kingdom|
|Died||19 July 514|
Rome, Ostrogothic Kingdom
|Feast day||19 July|
|Venerated in||Catholic Church|
Pope Symmachus (died 19 July 514) was the bishop of Rome from 22 November 498 to his death.His tenure was marked by a serious schism over who was elected pope by a majority of the Roman clergy.
He was born on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia (then under Vandal rule), the son of Fortunatus; Jeffrey Richards notes that he was born a pagan, and "perhaps the rankest outsider" of all the Ostrogothic Popes, most of whom were members of aristocratic families.Symmachus was baptized in Rome, where he became Archdeacon of the Roman Church under Pope Anastasius II (496–498).
Symmachus was elected pope on 22 November 498in the Constantinian basilica (Saint John Lateran). The archpriest of Santa Prassede, Laurentius, was elected pope on the same day at the Basilica of Saint Mary (presumably Saint Mary Major) by a dissenting faction with Byzantine sympathies, who were supported by Eastern Roman Emperor Anastasius. Both factions agreed to allow the Gothic King Theodoric the Great to arbitrate. He ruled that the one who was elected first and whose supporters were the most numerous should be recognized as pope. This was a purely political decision. An investigation favored Symmachus and his election was recognized as proper. However, an early document known as the "Laurentian Fragment" claims that Symmachus obtained the decision by paying bribes, while deacon Magnus Felix Ennodius of Milan later wrote that 400 solidi were distributed amongst influential personages, whom it would be indiscreet to name.
Symmachus proceeded to call a synod, to be held at Rome on 1 March 499, which was attended by 72 bishops and all of the Roman clergy. Laurentius attended this synod. Afterwards he was assigned the diocesis of Nuceria in Campania. According to the account in the Liber Pontificalis , Symmachus bestowed the See on Laurentius "guided by sympathy", but the "Laurentian Fragment" states that Laurentius "was severely threatened and cajoled, and forcibly despatched" to Nuceria (now Nocera Inferiore, in the Province of Salerno).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 and excommunicated.
In 501, the Senator Rufius Postumius Festus,a supporter of Laurentius, accused Symmachus of various crimes. The initial charge was that Symmachus celebrated Easter on the wrong date. The king Theodoric summoned him to Ariminum to respond to the charge. The pope arrived only to discover a number of other charges, including unchastity and the misuse of church property, would also be brought against him. Symmachus panicked, fleeing from Ariminum in the middle of the night with only one companion. His flight proved to be a miscalculation, as it was regarded as an admission of guilt. Laurentius was brought back to Rome by his supporters, but a sizeable group of the clergy, including most of the most senior clerics, withdrew from communion with him. A visiting bishop, Peter of Altinum, was appointed by Theodoric to celebrate Easter 502 and assume the administration of the See, pending the decision of a synod to be convened following Easter.
Presided over by the other Italian metropolitans, Peter II of Ravenna, Laurentius of Milan, and Marcellianus of Aquileia, the synod opened in the Basilica of Santa Maria (Maggiore). It proved tumultuous. The session quickly deadlocked over the presence of a visiting bishop, Peter of Altina, who had been sent by Theoderic as Apostolic Visitor, at the request of Senators Festus and Probinus, the opponents of Symmachus. [ citation needed ]Symmachus argued that the presence of a visiting bishop implied the See of Rome was vacant, and the See could only be vacant if he were guilty—which meant the case had already been decided before the evidence could be heard. Although the majority of the assembled bishops agreed with this, the Apostolic Visitor could not be made to withdraw without Theodoric's permission; this was not forthcoming. In response to this deadlock, rioting by the citizens of Rome increased, causing a number of bishops to flee Rome and the rest to petition Theodoric to move the synod to Ravenna.
King Theodoric refused their request to move the synod, ordering them instead to reconvene on 1 September. On 27 August the King wrote to the bishops that he was sending two of the Majores Domus nostrae, Gudila and Bedeulphus, to see to it that the synod assembled in safety and without fear.Upon reconvening, matters were no less acrimonious. First the accusers introduced a document which included a clause stating that the king already knew Symmachus was guilty, and thus the synod should assume guilt, hear the evidence, then pass sentence. More momentous was an attack by a mob on Pope Symmachus' party as he set out to make his appearance at the Synod: many of his supporters were injured and several—including the priests Gordianus and Dignissimus—killed. Symmachus retreated to St. Peter's and refused to come out, despite the urgings of deputations from the synod. The "Life of Symmachus", however, presents these killings as part of the street-fighting between the supporters of Senators Festus and Probinus on the one side, and Senator Faustus on the other. The attacks were directed particularly against clerics, including Dignissimus, a priest of San Pietro in Vincoli , and Gordianus, a priest of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, though the rhetoric of the passage extends the violence to anyone who was a supporter of Symmachus, man or woman, cleric or layperson. It was unsafe for a cleric to walk about in Rome at night.
At this point, the synod petitioned king Theodoric once again, asking permission to dissolve the meeting and return home. Theodoric replied, in a letter dated 1 October, that they must see the matter to a conclusion. So the bishops assembled once again on 23 October 502 at a place known as Palma,and after reviewing the events of the previous two sessions decided that since the pope was the successor of Saint Peter, they could not pass judgment on him, and left the matter to God to decide. All who had abandoned communion with him were urged to reconcile with him, and that any clergy who celebrated mass in Rome without his consent in the future should be punished as a schismatic. The resolutions were signed by 76 bishops, led by Laurentius of Milan and Peter of Ravenna.
Despite the outcome of the synod, Laurentius returned to Rome, and for the next four years, according to the "Laurentian Fragment", he held its churches and ruled as pope with the support of the senator Festus.The struggle between the two factions was carried out on two fronts. One was through mob violence committed by supporters of each religious camp, and it is vividly described in the Liber Pontificalis. The other was through diplomacy, which produced a sheaf of forged documents, the so-called "Symmachian forgeries", of judgments in ecclesiastical law to support Symmachus' claim that as pope he could not be called to account. A more productive achievement on the diplomatic front was to convince king Theodoric to intervene, conducted chiefly by two non-Roman supporters, the Milanese deacon Ennodius and the exiled deacon Dioscorus. At last Theodoric withdrew his support of Laurentius in 506, instructing Festus to hand over the Roman churches to Symmachus.
In 513, Caesarius, bishop of Arles, visited Symmachus while being detained in Italy. This meeting led to Caesarius' receiving a pallium . Based on this introduction, Caesarius later wrote to Symmachus for help with establishing his authority, which Symmachus eagerly gave, according to William Klingshirn, "to gather outside support for his primacy."
Pope Symmachus provided money and clothing to the Catholic bishops of Africa and Sardinia who had been exiled by the rulers of the Arian Vandals. He also ransomed prisoners from upper Italy, and gave them gifts of aid.
Symmachus died on 19 July 514,and was buried in St. Peter's Basilica. He had ruled for fifteen years, seven months, and twenty-seven days.
Pope Agapetus I was the bishop of Rome from 13 May 535 to his death.
Pope Hormisdas was the bishop of Rome from 20 July 514 to his death. His papacy was dominated by the Acacian schism, started in 484 by Acacius of Constantinople's efforts to placate the Monophysites. His efforts to resolve this schism were successful, and on 28 March 519, the reunion between Constantinople and Rome was ratified in the cathedral of Constantinople before a large crowd.
In the history of Christianity and later of the Roman Catholic Church, there have been several Councils of Aquileia. The Roman city of Aquileia at the head of the Adriatic is the seat of an ancient episcopal see, seat of the Patriarch of Aquileia.
Dioscorus was a deacon of the Alexandrian and the Roman church from 506. In a disputed election following the death of Pope Felix IV, the majority of electors picked him to be pope, in spite of Pope Felix's wishes that Boniface II should succeed him. However, Dioscorus died less than a month after the election, allowing Boniface to be consecrated pope and Dioscorus to be branded an antipope.
Magnus Felix Ennodius was Bishop of Pavia in 514, and a Latin rhetorician and poet.
Atella was an ancient Oscan city of Campania, located 20km directly north of Naples.
Caesarius of Arles, sometimes called "of Chalon" from his birthplace Chalon-sur-Saône, was the foremost ecclesiastic of his generation in Merovingian Gaul. Caesarius is considered to be of the last generation of church leaders of Gaul that worked to promote large-scale ascetic elements into the Western Christian tradition. William E. Klingshirn's study of Caesarius depicts Caesarius as having the reputation of a "popular preacher of great fervour and enduring influence". Among those who exercised the greatest influence on Caesarius were Augustine of Hippo, Julianus Pomerius, and John Cassian.
Laurentius was Archpriest of Santa Prassede and later antipope of the Roman Catholic Church. Elected in 498 at the Basilica Saint Mariae with the support of a dissenting faction with Byzantine sympathies, who were supported by Eastern Roman Emperor Anastasius I Dicorus, in opposition to Pope Symmachus, the division between the two opposing factions split not only the church, but the senate and the people of Rome. However, Laurentius remained in Rome as pope until 506.
The Councils of Carthage were church synods held during the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries in the city of Carthage in Africa. The most important of these are described below.
The Council of Agde was a regional synod held in September 506 at Agatha or Agde, on the Mediterranean coast east of Narbonne, in the Septimania region of the Visigothic Kingdom, with the permission of the Visigothic King Alaric II.
The Ostrogothic Papacy was a period from 493 to 537 where the papacy was strongly influenced by the Ostrogothic Kingdom, if the pope was not outright appointed by the Ostrogothic King. The selection and administration of popes during this period was strongly influenced by Theodoric the Great and his successors Athalaric and Theodahad. This period terminated with Justinian I's (re)conquest of Rome during the Gothic War (535–554), inaugurating the Byzantine Papacy (537-752).
The Symmachian forgeries are a sheaf of forged documents produced in the papal curia of Pope Symmachus (498–514) in the beginning of the sixth century, in the same cycle that produced the Liber Pontificalis. In the context of the conflict between partisans of Symmachus and Antipope Laurentius the purpose of these libelli was to further papal pretensions of the independence of the Bishops of Rome from criticisms and judgment of any ecclesiastical tribunal, putting them above law clerical and secular by supplying spurious documents supposedly of an earlier age. "During the dispute between Pope St. Symmachus and the anti-pope Laurentius," the Catholic Encyclopedia reports, "the adherents of Symmachus drew up four apocryphal writings called the 'Symmachian Forgeries'. ... The object of these forgeries was to produce alleged instances from earlier times to support the whole procedure of the adherents of Symmachus, and, in particular, the position that the Roman bishop could not be judged by any court composed of other bishops."
Flavius Avienus Iunior was a Roman politician during the reign of Theodoric the Great. He held the consulship with Pompeius as colleague in 501.
Lawrence I was Archbishop of Milan from 490 to c. 511. He is honoured as a saint in the Catholic Church and his feast day is July 25.
Rufius Magnus Faustus Avienus was a politician of the Western Roman Empire. He was appointed consul for 502 with Flavius Probus as his colleague.
Flavius Ennodius Messala was an Italian senator in Ostrogothic Italy. He was appointed consul for 506 with Areobindus Dagalaiphus Areobindus as his colleague.
The Second Council of Orange was held in 529 at Orange, which was then part of the Ostrogothic Kingdom. It affirmed much of the theology of Augustine of Hippo, and made numerous proclamations against what later would come to be known as semi-Pelagian doctrine.
The Collectiones canonum Dionysianae are the several collections of ancient canons prepared by the Scythian monk Dionysius 'the humble' (exiguus). They include the Collectio conciliorum Dionysiana I, the Collectio conciliorum Dionysiana II, and the Collectio decretalium Dionysiana. They are of the utmost importance for the development of the canon law tradition in the West.
Rufius Postumius Festus was a Roman aristocrat who lived during the Late Roman Empire. Festus was the last consul appointed by an Emperor in the West. The next consul appointed in the West was Caecina Decius Maximus Basilius, whom king Odoacer appointed in 480, eight years after Festus.
The pseudo-Council of Sinuessa was a purported gathering of bishops in 303 at Sinuessa, Italy, the purpose being a trial of Marcellinus on charges of apostasy. It is generally accepted that the gathering never took place and that the purported council documents were forged for political purposes in the 6th century during the schism between Symmachus and Laurentius, who both claimed the Holy See. The collection of forgeries, including the Council of Sinuessa, is collectively known as the Symmachian forgeries.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Symmachus .|
|Catholic Church titles|
| Pope |