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Diocese of Pozzuoli

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The city of Pozzuoli in the province of Naples, southern Italy, on the gulf of the same name, was founded by the Cumæans, whose port it became, under the name of Dicæarchia. It was used by the Carthaginians in the Second Punic War. The Romans took possession of it, fortified it, and gave it the name of Puteoli. Hannibal sought in vain to take this place, which became a Roman colony in 194 B.C. and was thereafter the most important port of Italy, enjoying exceptional municipal liberties. The harbour was set off from the sea by a line of pilasters supporting a long arcade, which was restored later by Antonius Pius. Caligula connected the ports of Pozzuoli and of Baiæ with a pontoon bridge. In the third century Pozzuoli fell into decadence. In 410, it was besieged and sacked by Alaric, in 545 by Totila, and in 715 by Grimoaldo II, Duke of Benevento, who, however, did not succeed in taking it from its Byzantine masters; in the tenth century, it was several times the object of Saracen incursions. In 1014 Pozzuoli was taken by the Neapolitans, and later passed, with Naples, into the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. In 1448 and 1538, it suffered from severe earthquakes; in 1550 the Turks landed and wrought frightful havoc in the town. Abundant ruins of villas and temples attest its ancient splendour. Among the temple ruins, the most important are those of the Temple of Serapis, which was at once a temple and an establishment of therapeutic baths; there remain the cella and many of its columns, also sixteen bath-rooms for baths in the mineral water that flows near by. The work of excavation (1838) exposed the ruins of an amphitheatre that had a capacity of 30,000; there are also the ruins of a theatre, and of thermæ or hot baths, where was found, among other objects, the Venus Anadyomene of the Naples Museum. The object of greatest interest at Pozzuoli, however, are the sulphur caves, the "forum Vulcani" of the ancients, which, through crevices in the earth exude sulphuretted hydrogen and sulphurous acid. in 1190 there was a severe volcanic eruption from these caves. There are also four mineral springs, and two caverns, known as the "Grotta del Cane", which exudes carbonic acid and the "Grotta dell' Ammoniaca"

On his voyage to Rome, St. Paul landed at Pozzuoli, where he met some "brothers" (Acts 28:13-14), and among these Jews there may have been Christians; no doubt the Apostle took advantage of the opportunity to preach to his countrymen the mystery of the Messiah already come. That St. Patrobas, a disciple of St. Paul, was first Bishop of Pozzuoli is a fabrication of the notorious Dositheos; on the other hand, the Bishops St. Celsus and St. Joannes governed the diocese before the fourth century. Proculus, Acutius, Eutyches, and St. Artemas were martyrs of Pozzuoli, and St. Januarius of Benevento and his companions suffered martyrdom here. In the fourth century the bishop of this see was Florentius, against whom Pope Damasus was compelled to seek the assistance of the emperors. Bishop St. Theodorus died in 435; Julianus was pontifical legate to the Robber Council of Ephesus in 449; the Bishop Stephanus, whom Cappelletti names at this period, should be referred to the seventh century, or later. Other bishops were Gaudiosus (680); St. Leo (about 1030), later a hermit; Ludovico di Costanzo, who, with the assistance of Alfonso of Aragon, was at first a usurper of this see, but was later recognized by Nicholas V; Carlo Borromeo (1537), a relative of the saint of the same name; Gian Matteo Castaldi (1542), who rebuilt the cathedral; Lorenzo Mongevio (1617), a good orator, formerly Auxiliary Bishop of Salzburg and of Valencia (he was a Franciscan), unjustly accused, and held prisoner in Castel Sant' Angelo; Martin Leon y Cardenas (1619), to whom a public monument was erected, in recognition of his many merits. The cathedral rises on the ruins of the Temple of Augustus; it contains some good pictures, among them the Martirio di San Gennaro by Guido Reni. The churches of Santa Maria delle Grazie and of Santa Croce are worthy of note. The diocese is a suffragan of Naples; has 10 parishes, with 57,100 inhabitants, 1 religious house of men, and 3 of women, and 1 educational establishment for girls.


CAPPELLETTI, Le Chiese d'Itala, XX.

About this page

APA citation. Benigni, U. (1911). Diocese of Pozzuoli. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Benigni, Umberto. "Diocese of Pozzuoli." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Douglas J. Potter. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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