Antipope Laurentius
Laurentius was an antipope
An antipope is a person who opposes a legitimately elected or sitting Pope and makes a significantly accepted competing claim to be the Pope, the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Roman Catholic Church. At times between the 3rd and mid-15th century, antipopes were typically those supported by a...

 of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, from 498 to 506.


Archpriest of Santa Prassede
Santa Prassede
The Basilica of Saint Praxedes , commonly known in Italian as Santa Prassede, is an ancient titular church and minor basilica in Rome, Italy, located near the papal basilica of Saint Mary Major...

, Laurentius was elected pope on 22 November 498, in opposition to Symmachus
Pope Symmachus
Saint Symmachus was pope from 498 to 514. His tenure was marked by a serious schism over who was legitimately elected pope by the citizens of Rome....

, by a dissenting faction. If Theodore Lector can be trusted, he was picked by the ex-consul Rufius Postumius Festus as a candidate, after Festus had secretly promised the Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 Emperor Zeno
Zeno (emperor)
Zeno , originally named Tarasis, was Byzantine Emperor from 474 to 475 and again from 476 to 491. Domestic revolts and religious dissension plagued his reign, which nevertheless succeeded to some extent in foreign issues...

 that Pope Anastasius
Pope Anastasius I
Pope Saint Anastasius I, born in Rome the son of Maximus, was pope from November 27, 399 to 401.He condemned the writings of the Alexandrian theologian Origen shortly after their translation into Latin. He fought against these writings throughout his papacy and in 400 he called a council to discuss...

 would approve the Henotikon
The Henotikon was issued by Byzantine emperor Zeno in 482, in an unsuccessful attempt to reconcile the differences between the supporters of the Council of Chalcedon and the miaphysites...

, but upon returning from Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 he found Pope Anastasius
Pope Anastasius
Pope Anastasius may refer to:*Pope Anastasius I, Pope from 399–401*Pope Anastasius II, Pope from 496–498*Pope Anastasius III, Pope from 911–913*Pope Anastasius IV, Pope from 1153–1154*Antipope Anastasius...

 had died.

The groups supporting Laurentius and Symmachus split the clergy, Senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

, and common people, leading to violent clashes between rival groups of supporters. It was clear that some form of arbitration was needed, and both groups proceeded to Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

 to present their arguments to king Theodoric
Theodoric is a widespread Germanic given name. First attested in the 5th century, it became widespread in the Germanic-speaking world, not least due to its most famous bearer, Theoderic the Great, king of the Ostrogoths....

 of the Ostrogoths. Jeffrey Richards observes that "it is a a remarkable state of affairs when an Arian
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

 king has for whatever reason to choose a Catholic
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

 pope." Theodoric reviewed the facts, and found that Symmachus fulfilled his criteria for being duly consecrated pope. However, a document known as the "Laurentian Fragment" claims that Symmachus obtained the decision by paying bribes, while deacon Magnus Felix Ennodius
Magnus Felix Ennodius
Magnus Felix Ennodius was Bishop of Pavia in 514, and a Latin rhetorician and poet.He was one of four fifth to sixth-century Gallo-Roman aristocrats whose letters survive in quantity: the others are Sidonius Apollinaris, prefect of Rome in 468 and bishop of Clermont , Ruricius bishop of Limoges ...

 of Milan later wrote that 400 solidi were distributed amongst influential personages, whom it would be indiscreet to name.

Finding himself victorious, Symmachus proceeded to call a synod held at Rome on March 1, 499, which was attended by 72 bishops and all of the Roman clergy, with the aim of confirming that his congregation accepted the king's judgment, as well as ensuring in the future there would be no rioting or illegal canvassing at election time. He also tried to appease his opposition by offering Laurentius the Diocese of Nuceria, in Campania
Campania is a region in southern Italy. The region has a population of around 5.8 million people, making it the second-most-populous region of Italy; its total area of 13,590 km² makes it the most densely populated region in the country...

. According to the account in the Liber Pontificalis
Liber Pontificalis
The Liber Pontificalis is a book of biographies of popes from Saint Peter until the 15th century. The original publication of the Liber Pontificalis stopped with Pope Adrian II or Pope Stephen V , but it was later supplemented in a different style until Pope Eugene IV and then Pope Pius II...

, 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. In either case, the subscription of Aprilis, bishop of Nuceria, to the acta of the synod of 502 suggests Laurentius either never took up the see, or was deposed from it soon after.

However, Laurentius' supporters sustained the schism. Led by Festus, a group of clerics and senators laid charges against Symmachus in an attempt to secure his deposition; king Theodoric summoned Symmachus to Ariminum answer these charges. But having gone to Ariminum, Symmachus fled the city in the middle of the night, returning to Rome where he took refuge in St. Peter's. His flight proved to be a major mistake, for it was widely seen as an admission of guilt. Many of the clergy withdrew from communion
Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend or limit membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group...

 with Symmachus, and entered into communion
Communion (Christian)
The term communion is derived from Latin communio . The corresponding term in Greek is κοινωνία, which is often translated as "fellowship". In Christianity, the basic meaning of the term communion is an especially close relationship of Christians, as individuals or as a Church, with God and with...

 with Laurentius.

A contentious synod held in 502 failed to resolve schism. Laurentius returned to Rome later that year, and for the following four years, according to the "Laurentian Fragment", he held its churches and ruled as pope, with the support of Festus. Laurentius was only forced from his position when a diplomatic effort to convince king Theodoric to intervene succeeded. Conducted chiefly by two non-Roman supporters, the Milanese deacon Ennodius and the exiled deacon Dioscorus
Antipope Dioscorus
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 succeed him...

, they convinced the king's personal physician, the deacon Helpidius, at last they convinced Theodoric to instruct Festus to hand over the Roman churches to Symmachus.

Once news of Theodoric's decision reached Rome, Laurentius retired from the city to one of Festus's estates, according to the "Laurentian Fragment", because "he did not want the city to be troubled by daily strife", where he fasted constantly until his death.
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