+ Symmachus was born in Sardinia and was later baptized in Rome.
+ He served as the archdeacon under Pope Anastasius II and was chosen to succeed him as pope in 498.
+ The pontificate of Symmachus was marked by a struggle to hold the papacy against Laurentius, an anti-pope who had been elected on the same day as Symmachus.
+ The followers of Laurentius accused Symmachus of various crimes, but Symmachus refused to answer the charges, claiming that secular authorities had no jurisdiction over the pope.
+ Although a synod in Palmaris affirmed Symmachus as pope, the dispute with Laurentius and his followers continued until Symmachus’ death on July 19, 514.
+ Despite these political distractions, Symmachus worked to support the bishops of North Africa, who were being persecuted by the Arians, as well as the Christian of northern Italy, who were suffering at the hands of invading Germanic tribes.
For prayer and reflection
“The Roman Pontiff, as the successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity of both the bishops and of the faithful.”—Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium
On July 19 we also remember Saint Elisabeth Qin Bianshi Elisabeth and her son, Saint Simon Qin Chunfu. They were martyred together in Liucun, Renqui, Hebei, China, on July 19, 1900, during the anti-Christian and anticolonial violence of the Boxer Rebellion; Saint Simon was fourteen years-old at the time of their deaths. They were beatified with other Chinese martyrs in 2000.
O God, who made blessed Symmachus the Vicar of Peter and committed to him the care of the universal Church, by his intercession keep your beloved flock ever safe, so that with integrity of faith and perfect charity your Church may journey to her heavenly homeland. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Pastors—For a Pope)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.