Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Laurentius, an antipope
Laurentius (10), antipope, elected on the same day as Symmachus, four days after the decease of Anastasius II., which, according to Pagi (Critic. in. Baron.), occurred on Nov. 22, 498, Laurentius being brought forward in the interests of concession, Symmachus in the interests of unbending orthodoxy. Fierce conflicts ensued. The members of the senate as well as the clergy were arrayed in two parties. At length it was agreed to refer the settlement to Theodoric the Ostrogoth, now reigning at Ravenna as king of Italy, and he pronounced Symmachus the lawful pope (Anastas.). Laurentius at first acquiesced, and accepted the see of Nucerina, but his partisans at Rome recalled him, and for three years after his election Rome was divided into two parties, headed by Festus and Probinus on the side of Laurentius, and by Faustus on the side of Symmachus. Anastasius states that "those who communicated with Symmachus were slain with the sword; holy women and virgins were dragged from their houses or convents, denuded and scourged; there were daily fights against the church in the midst of the city; many priests were killed; there was no security for walking in the city by day or night. The ex-consul Faustus alone fought for the church." His account implies that more influential laymen were on the side of Laurentius, but that the
clergy generally adhered to Symmachus. The matter was finally settled in the "synodus palmaris," the proceedings of which are supposed to be given under Synod. Romana III. sub Symmacho, the date of which is x. Kal. Novembris. Laurentius is said, in a fragment of a catalogue of the popes printed from a remarkably ancient MS. by Joseph Blanchinus in his ed. of Anastasius, to have retired to a farm of the patrician Festus, and to have died there, "sub ingenti abstinentia." This account evidently emanated from the party of Laurentius, if not from Festus himself (cf. Pagi's note on Baronius, ann. 502 i.).
Authorities.—Anastasius (in Vat. Symmachi); Frag. Cat. Pontif. in Anastas. Bibl. ed. 1718–1835, Rome, t. iv. Prolegom. p. lxix.; Theodorus Lector (lib. ii.), Theophanes (Chron. p. 123, ed. Paris), and Nicephorus (lib. 16, c. 35); Acts of Councils under Symmachus; Libellus Apologeticus of Ennodius written in justification of Symmachus after his final triumph.