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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Symmachus

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pope from A.D. 498 to 514, is noted because of his conflicts with the civil power, and his endeavors to heighten the importance of the Roman see. At the time of his election by the Roman party, the imperial party had elected the archpresbyter Laurentius, who was pledged to sign the Henoticon (q.v.). The determination of the election was left with Theodoric, king of the Goths, and resulted in favor of Symmachus, because he was the: first to be anointed or was supported by a majority of votes. At a synod held at Rome in 499 it was thereupon enacted that no vote should be cast for the election of a new pope before the reigning pope had actually died, and that that candidate should be regarded as elected who was supported by all or a majority of the votes of the Roman clergy. At a synod at Rome in 502 Symmachus revoked the enactment of king Odoacer which prohibited the incumbent of the papal chair from selling any portion of the property of the Church, and at the same time he ordained that all interference in the affairs of the Church of Rome should be forbidden to the laity. This provision contributed greatly to the development of the papal power, and has always remained a cardinal principle in the administration of the Romish Church. The party of Laurentius, after a time, brought heavy charges against Symmachus, and Theodoric deputed bishop Peter of Altinum to investigate the case; but, as he became a partisan of Laurentius, the king convoked a new synod at Rome, the Synodus Palmaris, in 503.

The life of Symmachus was endangered by the machinations of the Laurentines, and he submitted unconditionally to the decisions of the synod, in direct contradiction of his recently promulgated ordinance against the interference of laymen in ecclesiastical matters. He was acquitted without a trial. Bishop Ennodius of Ticinum, in his written defense of this synod, was the first to declare that God has reserved the judgment of the incumbent of the Roman see to himself, while other men must, according to his will, be judged by their fellows. At a synod held at Rome in 504, Symmachus promulgated detailed ordinances against all who should appropriate to themselves any of the possessions of the Church. It is worthy of note that the synods held under his pontificate addressed to him, by way of eminence, the title Papa. He appointed bishop Caesarius of Arles his vicar in Gaul. He banished the remaining Manichaeans from Rome and caused their books to be burned, but was himself branded as a Manichbean by the emperor Anastasius. Tradition attributes to him the introduction of the Gloria in Excelsis into the Sunday and feast-day services of the Church. He died, as is reported, July 19, 514. See Schrö ckh, Christl. Kirchengesch. 17:180, 195-211; Gieseler, Kirchengesch. I, 2, 398-405. Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Symmachus'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/s/symmachus.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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