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Reggio di Calabria

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Archdiocese in Calabria, southern Italy. The city is situated on the slope of the Aspromonte, at the extreme end of the peninsula, communicating with Messina by a line of ferries. Grain, olives, wine, fruit, fishing, the silk trade, and the manufacture of furniture have rendered Reggio an important trading port. The earthquakes of 1783 and 28 Dec., 1908, completely destroyed all the buildings, ancient and modern, and a town of wooden and corrugated iron huts now rises among the ruins.

The city was founded by the Calchidians in the eighth century B.C.; in 723 it received from Messina fugitives who rose to supreme power. Inscriptions and coins show that it was a flourishing republic, and was governed by the laws given by Charondas to Catania (640). About the close of the sixth century B.C., Alcidamas became tyrant of the city, and his son Anaxilas planned to obtain control of all Graecia Magna, but was unsuccessful. He was more fortunate in his attack on Zancle in Sicily, which he named Messana (Messina). His sons were expelled (461) from the city, which again became a republic. Dionysius of Syracuse captured it in 389 after a siege of eleven months.

On his fall, it became subject to Agathocles and later joined Pyrrhus against the Romans. When Pyrrhus abandoned Italy, a mercenary Campanian fleet captured the town, and established a military republic (270). This was overthrown and severely punished by the Romans, who incorporated it, with all Bruttium, under their rule as a federated city. It still preserved its Grecian character in the days of Augustus. Julius Caesar sent a colony thither and embellished the city, calling it Rhegium Julii. In the Gothic War it was attacked by the fleet of Belisarius, and despite the aid of Totila (549) was destroyed. It remained thenceforward in the hands of the Byzantines, though Authari claimed it as the furthest boundary of the Lombard Kingdom. In 918 it was captured by the Saracens, who were defeated and massacred by the Pisans (1005). It was again captured in 1080 by Robert Guiscard, and united to his Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. In 1313 it was taken by Frederick II of Sicily, who was soon forced to abandon it. It was frequently sacked by the Turks and corsairs in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and especially in 1554 and 1595 by the Calabrian renegade Sina Pasha Cicala. In Aug., 1860, the treason of General Vial enabled Garibaldi to occupy the city without resistance, thus beginning the downfall of the Kingdom of Naples.

Through a misinterpretation of Acts 27:13, St. Paul was said to have preached the Gospel there, and to have consecrated his companion, St. Stephen, bishop; it is probable, however, that it was evangelized at an early period. The first bishop known is Mark, legate of Pope Sylvester at the Council of Nicaea (325). Other bishops: St. Sisinnius (536), mentioned in the Acts of St. Placidus; John, legate of Pope Agathus at the Sixth Council (680); St. Cyrillus (749); Leontius, follower of Photius (869); St. Eusebius (d. 916). When all Southern Italy was united to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Reggio became a metropolitan see with thirteen suffragans, and followed the Greek Rite, which was changed to the Gallican after the Norman Conquest; Archbishop Ricciulli adopted the Roman Rite in 1580. The Greek Rite, however, remained in force in the church of Santissima Maria della Cattolica, built by King Roger, and governed by a protopope with a numerous Greek clergy. Questions of jurisdiction caused frequent controversies with the archbishop. About 1600 Archbishop Annibale degli Afflitti suppressed the Greek Rite in that church, and the entire diocese now follows the Roman Rite. Other bishops: Rangerio (1192); Fra Gentile (1279), Franciscan; Pietro Filomarino (1404); Antonio Ricci (1453), restorer of the cathedral; Gerolamo Centelles (1529), reformer of ecclesiastical discipline; Gaspare Ricciulli (1560), a distinguished theologian at the Council of Trent, rebuilt the cathedral which had been destroyed by the Turks, and established the seminary; Mariano Ricciardi (1855-71), exiled after the annexation of the Kingdom of Naples; Cardinal Gennaro Portanova (1888). The sees suffragan to Reggio are: Bova, Cassiano (in the Ionian islands), Cantanzaro, Cotrone, Gerace, Nicastro, Nicotera and Tropea, Opido, Squillace. The archdiocese contains 80 parishes, 200,000 inhabitants, 200 secular priests, 4 religious houses with 20 priests; 5 convents of nuns; 2 boys' and 5 girls' educational institutions.


CAPPELLETTI, Le chiese d'Italia, XXI; SPANO'-BOLANI, Storia di Reggio di Calabria (Naples, 1827); DE LORENZO, Cronache e documenti inediti da servire alla storia sacra e civile di Reggio di Calabria (Reggio, 1873-77); IDEM, Monografia di Storia Reggina (Reggio, 1888); MINASI, Le chiese di Calabria dal quinto al duodecimo secolo (Naples, 1896); GAY, Les dioceses de la Calabre a l'epoque byzantine (Macon, 1900); DUCHESNE, Les eveques de Calabre (Paris, 1902).

About this page

APA citation. Benigni, U. (1911). Reggio di Calabria. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Benigni, Umberto. "Reggio di Calabria." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Thomas M. Barrett. Dedicated to the Christian Community of Reggio di Calabria.

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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