Help support New Advent and get the full contents of this website as an instant download or CD-ROM. Includes the Catholic Encyclopedia, Church Fathers, Summa, Bible and more all for only $19.99...
ARCHDIOCESE OF SPOLETO (SPOLETANO).
Archdiocese in the province of Umbria, Italy. The city is situated on a spur of Monteluco, which belongs to the Sibylline Mountains. In the neighbourhood are marble quarries and coal mines; mineral earths are also found, and in the forests of Monteluco, truffles. The situation of the city upon a steep rock, protected by the mountain, has made it in all times an important fortress. The cathedral is an interesting Lombard building, begun in 617 by Duke Theudelapius; the campanile belongs to the tenth century, and the façade of 1207 is adorned with a large mosaic by Solsernus; the ornaments of the portal are by Gregorius Meloriantius (twelfth century). The interior, restored in 1640 by Bernini, contains frescoes by Pinturicchio and by Fra Filippo Lippi, who is buried here. Without the city, beyond the Porta della Torre (604?), is the ancient Church of San Pietro (fifth century), with interesting sculptures of the twelfth century. Not far away, on the crest of the mountain is the Church of San Giuliano, where the monastery of Sant' Isacco (sixth century) arose. Other churches are: Il Crocifisso, built on the site and from the materials of an ancient temple; Sant' Ansano, beneath which the foundations of another temple may be visited; San Pietro Martire, with frescoes by Spagna; San Filippo, with four columns of green porphyry taken from the temple of Clitumnus. Among the civic edifices are: Palazzo Comunale, with a collection of paintings; the castle of Cardinal Albornoz; and near the cathedral Palazzo Arroni, which is believed to have been the palace of the dukes of Spoleto. The relics of antiquity include: Porta della Fuga; the ruins of an amphitheatre, and of the Ponte Sanguinario (the bloody bridge); the arch of Drusus and Germanicus.
Spoletium, a city of the Umbrians, received a Roman colony 241 B.C. In 217 Hannibal, after his victory at Lake Trasimenus, was repulsed from the walls of Spoleto. Here, in the Civil Wars, Pompey and Crassus (82 B. C.) conquered the troops of Marius, who, however, found refuge in the city, and were thus the cause of its punishment. Here Æmilianus was proclaimed emperor (249), and killed three months later. In the Gothic war (537) the city surrendered to the Byzantine general, Constantine; but in 546 it was recovered by Totila, and it was not retaken by the Byzantines until 552, when Narses restored the fortifications. In 572 Spoleto became the seat of a Lombard duke, Faroald. He was succeeded by Ariulf, who made frequent expeditions against the Byzantine dominions (579-92 against Ravenna; 592 against Rome). Ariulf was succeeded by Theudelapius, son of Faroald, then came Atto (653), Transemund I (663), Faroald II (703), who ruled conjointly with his brother Wachilap. Faroald II had already captured Classe (the port of Ravenna), when he was obliged by Luitprand to restore it. He was deposed by his son Transemund II (724), who also rebelled against King Luitprand and formed an alliance with Gregory III, with whom he found refuge in 738. Ilderic, who had replaced him as duke, was slain by Transemund in 740, but in 742 the latter was obliged to become a cleric by King Luitprand, and the duchy was conferred upon Agiprand (742), who was succeeded by Theodicus. Under Hildebrand the Duchy of Spoleto was promised to the Holy See by the King of the Franks, and the duke himself was named by Pope Adrian (773), but the succeeding dukes were named by the Frankish emperors. Winigisus aided Pope Leo III against his enemies. Among the dukes of this epoch are the following: Sicco, who was expelled because of his hostility to the Franks, but was received and made duke at Beneventum; Guido I, who divided the duchy between his two sons Lambert and Guido II, the latter receiving the Duchy of Camerino. Lambert distinguished himself in the wars against the Saracens, but disgraced himself by massacres at Rome in 867; he was afterwards deposed (871), then restored (876), but was a second time excommunicated by Pope John VIII. In 883 Guido II united under his sway the entire dukedom, which from this time was called the Duchy of Spoleto and Camerino. After the death of Charles III the Bald (888), Guido had himself crowned Roman Emperor and King of Italy under Pope Stephen V (891); Pope Formosus in 892 also crowned his son Lambert II, who succeeded his father in the dukedom, kingdom, and empire.
Alberico I, Duke of Camerino (897), and afterwards of Spoleto, married the notorious Marozia; he was killed by the Romans in 924. His son Alberico II made himself also master of Rome and remained there until the election to the papacy of his son John XII. At this time the Emperor Otto I detached from the Duchy of Spoleto the so-called Sabina Langobardica, which was bestowed upon the Holy See. In 967 Otto II united the duchy with that of Capua and Benevento, which was then ruled by Pandolfo Testa di Ferro; but after the death of the latter he detached Spoleto, which was in 989 granted to Hugo, Duke of Tuscany. The duchy was united with Tuscany a second time in 1057, when Godfrey of Lorraine espoused Beatrice, the widow of Boniface, Duke of Spoleto, and it remained so until the death of the Countess Matilda. During the conflict between the papacy and the Emperor Henry IV, the latter named other dukes of Spoleto. After this the dukedom was in the family of the Werners (Guarnieri) of Urslingen, Margraves of Ancona. In 1155 Frederick Barbarossa destroyed the city for having made of prisoner of his ambassador to Apulia. In 1158 the emperor gave the duchy to Guelf VI of Este; Henry VI invested Conrad of Urslingen with it, upon whose death in 1198 it was ceded to Pope Innocent III, the cession being confirmed by Otto of Brunswick. The latter, however, in 1209 occupied the duchy for himself, making Dipold von Vohburg duke. In like manner Frederick II in his different treaties with the Holy See acknowledged its sovereignty over the duchy, but when at war with the papacy he occupied it for the empire, and was always joyfully received by the populace (1240). His son, Manfred, on the other hand, did not succeed in winning the people. The popes maintained at Spoleto a governor, who was often a cardinal. As early as the thirteenth century, and more frequently in the fourteenth, Spoleto was involved in wars with Perugia, Terni, and other cities; in 1324 it was almost destroyed by the Perugians. In 1319 the struggle between the Guelphs and Ghibellines tore the city. Cardinal Albornoz favoured the city for the services which it rendered in the restoration of the papal power, and made it independent of Perugia. At the beginning of the Great Schism, Pietro di Prato succeeded in occupying Spoleto for the antipope Clement VII, but was expelled by Boniface IX. Ladislaus II, King of Naples, in 1414 endeavoured in vain to make himself master of the city. Pope Eugenius IV named as governor the Abbot of Monte Cassino, Piero Tomacelli, who was tyrannical to such an extent that the people besieged him in his castle, and in 1438 summoned the bands of Piccinino to free them. In 1480 Cardinal Vitelleschi ended the tyranny of Piero and of the Trinci of Foligno. The former perished in the Castle of Sant'Angelo. During the fifteenth century the city was often at war and in rebellion against the papal power. In the campaign of 1860 in Umbria, Spoleto was heroically defended by Colonel O'Reilly.
Spoleto venerates as its apostle St. Brictius, who is also venerated in other cities of Umbria and Tuscany. It is difficult to discuss the epoch in which he lived because the legend of his life is so full of anachronisms. The names of other martyrs are also recorded at Spoleto, like St. Gregory the Priest; indeed, the name Ponte Sanguinario is said to record a great massacre of Christians. Another martyred bishop was St. Saturnius (270), and during the persecution of Diocletian the martyrdom of St. Savinus, Bishop of Assisi, took place at Spoleto. The first bishop of certain date is Cæcilianus, to whom Pope Liberius wrote a letter in 354. There is record of Bishop Achilles, who during the conflict between Pope St. Boniface and the antipope Eulalius was a visitor of the Church of Rome (418); Bishop Spes (fifth century), who collected the relics of the martyrs and erected many churches; St. Amasius (d. 489); St. Johannes, killed by Totila (546). At the time of Bishop Petrus (573) Spoleto was under Arian rule. It is related that an Arian bishop in Spoleto wished to enter the Church of San Pietro, then the cathedral, by force, but was stricken with blindness. To Bishop Chrysanthus (591) St. Gregory the Great wrote four letters, in one of which he admonished him not to discipline fugitive monks so lightly. Other bishops were: Adeodatus (about 777); Siguald (827), formerly Abbot of Echternach; Adalbert (1015), who built the new cathedral and the episcopal residence within the city. After he had destroyed the city, Barbarossa presented to the cathedral the so-called Madonna of St. Luke, a Byantine work with inscriptions of a dialogue between Mary and Jesus. Bishop Nicolò Porta, who became bishop in 1228, was transferred in 1236 to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Bartolommeo de Bardi, O.Min. (1320), rendered excellent services as Governor of Terni. In 1417, on the death of Bishop Jacopo, who was a partisan of Pope John XXIII, the clergy wished to proceed to the election of a new pastor but the people prevented them, proclaiming as bishop Nicolò Vivari, the nominee of Gregory XII. Again in 1433 the clergy wished to revive their right of electing a bishop, but the intervention of Eugenius IV prevented them. Other bishops were: Berardo Erubi (1448), afterwards cardinal, who played an important part in the government of the church; Alessandro Farnese (1555); Alfonso Visconti (1601), founder of the seminary, which was enlarged by his successor Maffeo Barberini (1603), afterwards Pope Urban VIII, who ordered the restoration of the cathedral. After the death of Cardinal Locatelli (1812), Napoleon nominated Bishop Antonio de Longo, whom the canons were unwilling to obey, and were therefore nearly all exiled. In 1820 Spoleto became a metropolitan see and the ancient Diocese of Norcia was taken from its territory. Of the archbishops we should record: Mastai Ferretti (1827-32), afterwards Pius IX, whose episcopal rule was noteworthy for the manner in which (1837) he persuaded four thousand rebels to lay down their arms.
To the Diocese of Spoleto has been united that of Bevagna (Mevania), an ancient city, which venerates as first bishop St. Vincent the Martyr; the first bishop of certain date is Innocentius (487). In the time of St. Gregory the Great it was very difficult to provide a bishop for this see, but in 649 and in 844 bishops are again recorded. Bevagna (Mævania, where, in ancient days the white bulls destined for the sacrificial altars were pastured) is situated twenty-two miles south-east of Perugia, at the confluence of the Clitunno and Topino, and contains 6000 inhabitants. The ancient cathedral was dedicated to St. Michael. The body of Blessed James Bianconi is preserved at Bevagna. Blessed James was born there in 1220. At sixteen he was received into the Dominican order at Spoleto. After his ordination, he devoted his energies especially to the work of extirpating the heresy of the Nicolaites from Umbria, and finally succeeded in converting its chief propagator, Ortinellus. After a life of extraordinary austerity James died on 15 August, 1301. In later times his remains were exposed on three occasions and were found to be incorrupt. Numerous miracles were attributed to his intercession and even today they are of not rare occurrence. Pope Boniface IX has granted indulgences to all those who visit his relics during the first three days of May; Pope Clement X extended the celebration of his feast (23 August) to the whole Dominican Order (cf. Jacobilli, "Vita del beato Giacomo da Bevagna", Foligno, 1644; Piergi, "Vita del beato Giacomo Bianconi da Bevagna", Rome, 1729). Another Blessed James, a Franciscan martyr, who died on 2 September, 1377, is honoured at Bevagna (see "Acta SS.", 1 Sept., 595-6; "Année dominicaine", VIII, 1898, pp. 779-94).
Another ancient diocese united with Spoleto is Trevi. The town of Trevi (in ancient days Trebia), about four leagues from Spoleto, is situated on the right bank of the River Clitunno, on a rugged slope at the extremity of Monte Petino. It is in Umbria and so is to be distinguished from the Latin town Trebia. It was founded probably as early as the fifth century B.C. Pliny speaks of it as flourishing and calls its inhabitants "Trebiates Umbriæ populi". There is evidence to show that the Faith was preached there before the end of the second century. In A.D. 296 Pope Marcellinus consecrated, as first bishop of Trevi, Æmilianus, an Armenian, who, with his companions Hilarian, a monk, and Hermippus and Denis, was martyred on 28 January, 302, under Diocletian. The body of Æmilianus was brought to Spoleto and interred there. During the troubles caused by the barbarian and internal wars the relics were concealed, but in 1660 they were discovered in the cathedral. Up to the year 1050 nine other bishops of Trevi are known from the lists of prelates present at synods in Rome; they include: Constantine, in 487; Laurentius, in 499; Propinquus, in 501; Grisus or Priscus, in 743; Valerimus, in 769; Paulus in 826; and Crescentius, in 853. About the middle of the eighth century Trevi came under the temporal dominion of the Church. In 840 and 881 the city suffered from the Saracen inroads, and in 915 and 924 from an Hungarian invasion. The Trevians sided with the Guelph party in their struggles with the Ghibellines. Among the natives of Trevi the following may be mentioned: Saints Vincent, Bishop of Bevagna, and Benignus, deacon, martyrs; St. Constantinus, Bishop and patron of Perugia (feast 29 January); Blessed Thomas of Naples, hermit of the Institute of Celestine V; Benedetto Valenti, the learned jurisconsult; and Virgilio Lucarini, canon of St. George's Velabro, who founded the college of Trevi, which was opened in 1674. Giotta da Vespignano painted a beautiful fresco in the Church of the Holy Cross. In the Church of San Martino was a very valuable painting, representing "The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin in Heaven", attributed by some to Giovanni Spagna, but more likely a work of Pietro Vannucci (Perugino); it is now in the Pinacoteca Vannucci, Perugia.
In the valley below the town is the celebrated church and shrine of Santa Maria delle Lagrime (Our Lady of the Tears). The story of the miraculous image is briefly this: Diotallevio d'Antonio, who lived near the road leading from Spoleto to Trevi, had painted an image of the Madonna and Child on the outside wall of his house. One day tears were noticed falling from the eyes of the Madonna. The report of this extraordinary phenomenon, which continued for some time, spread far and wide. Official records of the occurrence were made by the municipal authorities. Many graces and favours were obtained through prayer before the picture. A small chapel was erected in August, 1485, and Mass was daily offered therein. On 26 July, 1486, Santa Maria delle Lagrime was chosen patroness of the town. On 27 March, 1487, the large basilica was begun, which on its completion, 8 March, 1489, was confided to the Olivetans. A contemporary account of the miraculous origin of the shrine by Father Francesco Mugnoni, an Olivetan, who resided within a short distance of d'Antonio's house, is preserved. The basilica contains Perugino's "The Adoration of the Magi", and Giovanni Spagna's "Deposition from the Cross". The shrine has been enriched with many beautiful offerings in commemoration of the numerous benefits conferred upon the people of the neighbourhood and visiting pilgrims through the intercession of Our Lady of Tears. Notable among these is a representation, in silver relief, of the city of Ferni, given by its inhabitants and neighbouring towns in remembrance of their deliverance from the plague.
The archbishop, Mgr. Domenico Serafini, a Benedictine of the Congregation of Monte Cassino, was born at Rome on 3 August, 1852; professed at Subiaco on 16 June, 1874; ordained priest on 21 October, 1877; appointed procurator-general of the congregation five years later; in June, 1892, he was elected abbot-general; on 19 April, 1900, he was named archbishop and on 6 May, 1900, consecrated, in succession to Mgr. Mariano Elzeviro Pagliari (born at Camerino, in the Marches, on 11 September, 1834, and named to the see on 28 February, 1879). Spoleto has no suffragan see; it has 172 parishes, with 170 secular and 60 regular clergy, 92,000 souls, 14 monasteries for men, and 11 convents for women, 3 colleges for boys, and 2 for girls. Its seminary serves for southern Umbria. A Catholic weekly and a religious periodical are published here.
CAPPELLETTI, Le Chiese d'Italia, IV (Venice, 1857); CAMPELLO, Delle Historie di Spoleto (Spoleto, 1672); BARBANTI, Ristretto dell'antico e moderno stato di Spoleto (Foligno, 1731), SANSI, Degli edifizi e dei frammenti storici di Spoleto; FATTESCHI, Memorie istorico-diplomatiche riguardanti la serie dei duchi ecc. di Spoleto (Spoleto, 1801); ANGELI-ROTA, Spoleto e dintorni (Spoleto, 1905); JENNY, Geschichte des langobardischen Herzogtums Spoleto (Bâle, 1890); MANASSEI, Alcuni documenti per la storia delle città di Terni et Spoleto trascritti ed annotati in Archiv. stor. ital., XXII (1875), 367-415; SANSI, Storia del comune di Spoleto dal secolo XII, al XVII in Accad. spolet. (1879); PILA CAROCCI, Della zecca e delle monete di Spoleto (Camerino, 1886); PRAMPOLINI, La rocca di Spoleto in Rev. Europea, XII (1879), 92-7; HARDOUIN, Concilia, VII, 239; MANSI, Concilia, XXIII, 344; UGHELLI, Italia sacra, X, 114; LODI, Breve storia delle cose memorabili di Trevi (Milan, 1647); BARIZZA, Istoria della Vergine delle Lagrime di Trevi (Milan, 1721); ALBERTI, Notizie antiche e moderne risguardanti Bevagna città dell'Umbria, raccolte in compendio; GIORGETTI, Breve istorico compendio dell'imagine miracolosa di Maria detta delle Lacrime, venerato alla falda di Trevi nell'Umbria (Todi, 1782).
APA citation. (1912). Spoleto. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14232b.htm
MLA citation. "Spoleto." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14232b.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Richard Hemphill.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
Contact information. The editor of New Advent is Kevin Knight. My email address is webmaster at newadvent.org. Regrettably, I can't reply to every letter, but I greatly appreciate your feedback — especially notifications about typographical errors and inappropriate ads.