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St. Symmachus

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Feastday: July 19
Death: 514

A native of Sardinia, Symmachus was serving as archdeacon of Rome when he was chosen to become pope in 498. His election was immediately opposed by a segment of the Roman clergy who went so far as to elect an antipope on the very same day that Symmachus had been elected. The antipope and his followers embittered the early years of Symmachus' pontificate. When at length the schism ended, Symmachus expressed his gratitude in an inscription on a church monument: "The biting of the wolves has ceased." Symmachus sent material assistance to the bishops of North Africa living in exile on his native island of Sardinia, who had been banished from their sees by the heretical king Thrasimund. The pontiff also sent the bishops relics of the martyrs to give them spiritual solace. His charity was likewise expended upon ransoming captives, founding three hospices for the needy, and relieving the victims of barbarian raids in northern Italy. It was Pope Symmachus who first expanded the use of the Gloria at Mass beyond its original utilization as a hymn heard only once a year at the Christmas Midnight Mass.


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