Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Diocese of Forli

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(FOROLIVIENSIS)

Diocese in the province of Romagna (Central Italy); suffragan of Ravenna. The city of Forli, the ancient Forum Livii, is situated between the rivers Ronco and Montone, and was founded in 206 B. C. by the consul M. Livius Salinator; destroyed 88 B. C. during the civil war of Marius and Sulla; and rebuilt by the prætor Livius Clodius. During the seventh and eighth centuries it was often seized by the Lombards (665, 728, 742), until its incorporation with the Papal States in 757. In the medieval struggle between the papacy and the empire it was Ghibelline. On the downfall of the Hohenstaufen, Simone Mestaguerra had himself proclaimed Lord of Forli (1257). He was succeeded by Maghinardo Pagano, Uguccione della Faggiuola (1297), and others, until in 1302 the Ordelaffi came into power. More than once this family sought to escape from the overlordship of the Holy See, and was therefore several times expelled, e. g. in 1327-29 and again in 1359-1375 (Gil d'Albornoz). Forli was seized in 1488 by Visconti and in 1499 by Cæsar Borgia, after whose death it was again directly subject to the pope. In 1708 it was sacked by the Austrians.

St. Mercurialis is venerated as the first bishop, and is said to belong to the Apostolic Age; it is certain, however, that he is identical with the Mercurialis present at the Council of Rimini in 359. The Christian religion, however, must have been introduced, and a see established, much earlier. Among the illustrious bishops the following may be enumerated: Alessandro (1160), who built the episcopal palace; Fra Bartolomeo da Sanzetto (1351), compelled to flee by Francesco degli Ordelaffi; Giovanni Capparelli (1427), banished by Antonio degli Ordelaffi; Luigi Pirano (1437), who took an active part in the Council of Ferrara. The following were natives of Forli: Blessed Jacopo Salomonio (died 1314), a Dominican; Blessed Pellegrino Laziosi (died 1345), a Servite; Blessed Marcolino Amanni (died 1397), a Dominican. The Cathedral of Santa Croce existed as early as 562; in 1419 Martin V ordered restorations that were completed in 1475; and it was again enlarged in 1841. A noteworthy part of the cathedral is the chapel of the Madonna del Fuoco; the sacred image contained there was formerly in a private house, where it remained unharmed during a fire. Also worthy of mention are: the church of San Mercuriale, with its celebrated belltower, the work of Francesco Deddi (1428); San Biagio, with frescoes by Melozzo da Poril and Palmegiani, and an "Immaculate Conception" by Guido Reni; Santa Maria dei servi (built by Blessed Pellegrino, buried there), with frescoes of the school of Giotto. The seminary has a rich collection of 500 Aldine first editions and of pictures. Near Forli is the shrine of Santa Maria delle Grazie of Forno. The diocese has 61 parishes, 60,000 inhabitants, 3 male and 6 female educational institutions, 4 religious houses of men, and 7 of women, and a weekly Catholic paper.

CAPPELLETTI, Le Chiese d' Italia (Venice, 1844), II, 307-67; MARCHESI, Compendium histor. celeberrimœ civitalis Forliviensis (Forli, 1678); ROSETTI, Vite degli uomini illustri Forlivesi (Forli, 1858-61).

U. BENIGNI.