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Archpriest of Santa Prassede, Laurentius was elected pope on 22 November 498, against Symmachus, by a dissenting faction with Byzantine sympathies. Laurentius was, in fact, supported by Emperor Anastasius.
Symmachus tried to recompose the fraction, by offering to Laurentius the Diocese of Nuceria, in Campania, but Laurentius' supporters, among whom was Senator Festus, sustained the schism. It was Theodoric, fearing a Byzantine influence on Laurentius, who withdrew his support from Laurence, removing him from Rome.
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