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Diocese of Vicenza

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The city is the capital of a province in Venetia (Northern Italy). The surrounding country is agricultural, but there are also quarries of marble, sulphur, copper, and silver mines, and beds of lignite and kaolin; mineral springs also abound, the most famous being those of Recoaro. Among the industries worthy of mention are the woollen and silk, pottery, and musical instruments. The cathedral, dating from early in the eleventh century, and restored in the thirteenth, sixteenth, and nineteenth, possesses numerous pictures and sculptures, nearly all of them by Vicentine artists (Cittadello, Celestia, Liberi, Ruschi). The Church of the Ara Coeli (1244), formerly belonging to the Clarisses, contains statues by Marinali and Cassetti, and paintings by Tiepolo. The Churches of the Carmine (1372) and S. Caterina (1292), formerly belonging to the Humiliati, possess notable pictures. S. Corona (1260) was built by the Dominicans after the death of Ezzelino, and is pictures by Montagna ("The Magdelene") and Relline ("Baptism of Christ"). Other churches are: S. Croce (1179), SS. Felice e Fortunato (eighth century), SS. Filippo e Giacomo (twelfth century), S. Lorenzo of the Friars Minor (1280), in the Gothic style, contains the tombs of many illustrious Vicentines. In the cloister of S. Maria of the Servites (1319) took place the miracles of St. Philip Benizi de Damiani. The most remarkable secular buildings are the theatre, built by Palladio in 15890 for the Accademia degli Olimpici, and the Basilica--the building itself Gothic of 1444, though Palladio built the outer portico in two orders. Near the latter are the clock tower (1224-1446), 268 feet in height, and the Rotondo, another work of Palladio's (1570), with four porticoes. There are numerous private palaces which were transformed by Palladio and his pupils. A special feature is the multitude of towers which still remain. The Communal Library was founded by Count Giovanni M. Bertolo. The Museum contains a picture-gallery exclusively devoted to Vicentine painters. Of the philanthropic institutions many, like the hospital, date back to the fourteenth century, others to the fifteenth.

Vicentia was a city of the Veneti, from whom it was taken by the Gauls. In Roman times it was of little importance, though it had the franchise in 45 B.C. It suffered by the incursions of the Goths and the Huns, but is not mentioned in connection with the Gothic War. In the eighth century we find a Lombard Duke of Vicenza. When the Othos handed over the government of the city to the bishop, its communal organization had an opportunity to develop, and separated itself from the episcopal authority. It took an active part in the Lombard League, compelling Padua and Treviso to join, and its podesta, Ezzelino III, il Balbo, was captain of the league. When peace was restored, however, the old rivalry with Padua, Bassano, and other cities was renewed, besides which there were the internal factions of the Vivaresi (Ghibellines) and the Maltraversi (Guelphs). The tyrannical Ezzelino IV drove the Guelphs out of Vicenza, and caused his brother, Alberico, to be elected podesta (1230). The city joined the Second Lombard League against Frederick II, and was sacked by that monarch (1237), after which it formed part of Ezzelino's dominions. On his death the old government was restored--a consiglio maggiore of four hundred members and a consiglio minore of forty members--and formed a league with Padua, Treviso, and Verona. Three years later the Vicentines entrusted the protection of the city to Padua, so as to safeguard republican liberty; but this protectorate (custodia) quickly became dominion, and for that reason Vicenza in 1311 voluntarily submitted to the Scaligeri of Verona. In 1404 it submitted to Venice, and thenceforward shared the history of that republic. It was beseiged by the Emperor Sigismund, and Maximilian I held possession of it in 1509 and 1516. In 1848 it rose against Austria, but was recovered after a stubborn resistance. Vicenza was the native city of the historian Ferreto dei Ferreti (fourteenth century), the poet Trissino (1478-1553), the traveller Pigafetta, companion of Magalhaes, the architects Palladio and Scamazzi, and the engraver Valerio Belli.

Among its patron saints the city venerates St. Lontius, bishop and martyr, and Sts. Theodore and Apollonius, bishops and confessors in the fourth century. The Christian cemetery discovered recently near the Church of Sts. Felix and Fortunatus, dates from the earlier half of the fourth century, and these two saints were probably martyred under Diocletian. The first bishop of whom there is any certain record is Horontius (590), a partisan of the Schism of the Three Chapters. Other bishops were: Vitalis (901), high chancellor of King Berengarius: Girolano (1000), deposed by Henry II for political sedition; Torengo, in whose episcopate a number of bishops rebelled against the episcopal authority; Blessed Giovanni Ccciafronte (1179-85), a Benedictine, slain by one of his own vassals. Uberto was deposed by Innocent III as a despoiler of church property, but the canons put off until 1219 the election of his successor, Gilberto, who was forced by the tyranny of Ezzelino to live in exile. Blessed Bartolommeo da Breganze (1256), a Dominican, had previously been Bishop of Nicosia, in Cyprus, and legate in Syria. Under Bishop Emiliani (1409) took place the apparition of the Blessed Virgin on Monte Berico which led to the foundation of the famous sanctuary, 3280 feet above the sea level. Pietro Barbo (1451) was afterwards Pope Paul II. Cardinal Giovanni Battista Zeno (1468) was distinguished for his sanctity and learning. Matteo Priuli (1563) founded the seminary and made efforts for reform. Alvise M. Ganrielli (1779) restored many churches and the seminary. The See of Vicenza was suffragan of Aquilcia, then of Udine, and since 1818 of Venice. The diocese contains: 219 parishes, with 477,000 souls; 699 secular and 39 regular priests; 10 houses of male religious and 52 sisters; 4 schools for boys, and 52 for girls. The Catholic Press comprises "Il Berico" (tri-weekly, Vicenza), "La Riscossa" (tri-weekly, Breganze), and six other periodicals.


CAPPELLETTI, Le chiese d'Italia, X; CASTELLINI, Storia della citta di Vicenza (14 vols., Vicenza, 1782-1822); RICCARDO, Storia dei Vescovi Vicentini (Vicenza, 1786); GIAROLO, La necropoli cristiana di Vicenza (Vicenza, 1909).

About this page

APA citation. Benigni, U. (1912). Diocese of Vicenza. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Benigni, Umberto. "Diocese of Vicenza." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Michael T. Barrett. Dedicated to the Catholics of the Diocese of Vicenza.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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