Pope Saint Symmachus

mural of Pope saint Symmachus, Basilica of Sant'Agnese fuori le mura, Rome, Italy; swiped from WikipediaAlso known as

  • Simmaco



The son of Fortunatus. Baptized in Rome, Italy. Archdeacon under Pope Anastasius II. Chosen 51st pope in 498.

An anti-pope, Laurentius, was elected the same day by a minority with Byzantine sympathies and with the support of Emperor Anastasius; King Theodoric the Great supported Symmachus who ascended to the throne. Any sort of campaigning for the papacy during the life of a sitting pope was outlawed by canon law. In 501, Senator Festus, a supporter of Laurentius, accused Symmachus of assorted crimes; the pope refused to answer the charges, claimed that secular rulers had no jurisdiction over a pope, and the Synodus Palmaris of 23 October 502 confirmed this decision. The schism with Laurentius continued for years, and at one point Theodoric installed the anti-pope in the Lateran Palace and proclaimed him the legal pontiff; Theodoric later decided that Laurentius was too Byzantine, and had him removed.

During all the turmoil, Symmachus spent largely to support bishops of Africa who were persecuted by the Arian Vandals. He also gave aid to northern Italians who suffered from the invasions of barbarians.


  • in Sardinia, Kingdom of Odoacer (part of modern Italy)

Papal Ascension



Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Pope Saint Symmachus“. CatholicSaints.Info. 16 July 2015. Web. 9 October 2015. <>