Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Diocese of Teramo

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 14
Diocese of Teramo

by Umberto Benigni

Diocese in southern Italy. In the past the city was injured by earthquakes. It is situated at the confluence of the Tordino and the Vessola in a very fertile district, and was formerly noted for its manufacture of delf; ore is found in the vicinity. The cathedral is far from being uniform in style, the façade being like a fortress wall in which a Gothic gate had been constructed; it contains, however, several works of art, among them the tomb of Bishop Nicola Arcioni (1317). The Churches of S. Domenico and of S. Francesco are also worth visiting. In ancient days it was called Interamnia and was the seat of government of the Præcutii, a Samnite people; in 315 B.C. a Roman colony, Interamnia Præcutiana, was settled there; from them is derived the name of the entire region, Abruzzi, a name already adopted in the sixth century. Among the ruins of the Roman period are an amphitheatre, a theatre, and an aqueduct. After the Longobard invasion it became the residence of a gastaldo, depending on the Duke of Spoleto; under the Franks it was annexed by the Normans; in 1155 Count Loretello rebelled against King Roger and destroyed the city, soon rebuilt through the efforts of Bishop Guido (1122), for which he and his successors were granted the investiture of the principality. Probably at this time arose the custom of the bishops of Teramo of pontificating armed and having arms also on the altar. Hardly had the town risen again when it began a series of quarrels with Ascoli, which more than once threatened to become sanguinary. Teramo resisted till the end of 1270 during the Angevin invasion. A little later the bishops abandoned their temporal sovereignty and a royal captain was installed. In the beginning of the fifteenth century the Melatino, di Janni, and Acquaviva began to struggle for possession of the town. In 1416 it was sacked by Lordino, a Frenchman, exasperated by being deprived of the title of high constable of the kingdom; during the pillage the treasures of the cathedral, including a precious silver altar frontal, disappeared.

The city which at that time contained 70,000 inhabitants began to decay. From 1438 till 1443 it belonged to the principality which Francesco Sforza had formed in the Marches. Alfonso made it the capital of the Abruzzi, and in 1459 Giosia Acquaviva was made Duke of Teramo, against the will of the citizens. The following year it was taken by Piccinino for Rene of Anjou; in 1461 it was retaken by Matteo di Capua. In 1519 Andrea Acquaviva assumed anew the lordship of Teramo and besieged the town; but he was forced to resign. About 600 A.D., according to St. Gregory the Great, the Abruzzian church having been long without a bishop, the election of Opportunus was procured; hence the origin of the see dates back to the fifth century at least, and the bishop's title was taken not from the town but from the district. It may be even more ancient. Among its other prelates were: St. Berardus (1115), descended from the family of the Counts dei Marsi; Matteo de Balato (1251), captured during the inroad of the Ascolani and liberated through the intervention of Innocent IV; Blessed Antonio Fatati (1450), counsellor of King Alfonso I; Gian Ant. Campano (1463), a littérateur and poet; Giacomo Silveri-Piccolomini (1553), distinguished at the Council of Trent; Leonardo Cassiani (1693), who improved the state of the clergy; Michele Milella (1859), incarcerated by the new government in 1861. In 1818 the Diocese of Ortona, which is now only an archipresbyteral church, was incorporated with the See of Teramo. The latter is immediately subject to the Holy See and contains 121 parishes, 220 secular and 13 regular priests, 3 houses of religious and 1 of monks, 2 institutes for boys and 4 for girls.

CAPPELLETTI, Le chiese d'Italia, XXI; PALMA, Storia ecclesiastica e civile . . . di Teramo (Teramo, 1852-6).

U. BENIGNI