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The significance of Rome lies primarily in the fact that it is the city of the pope. The Bishop of Rome, as the successor of St. Peter, is the Vicar of Christ on earth and the visible head of the Catholic Church. Rome is consequently the centre of unity in belief, the source of ecclesiastical jurisdiction and the seat of the supreme authority which can bind by its enactments the faithful throughout the world. The Diocese of Rome is known as the "See of Peter", the "Apostolic See" , the "Holy Roman Church " the "Holy See" -- titles which indicate its unique position in Christendom and suggest the origin of its preeminence. Rome, more than any other city, bears witness both to the past splendour of the pagan world and to the triumph of Christianity. It is here that the history of the Church can be traced from the earliest days, from the humble beginnings in the Catacombs to the majestic ritual of St. Peter's. At every turn one comes upon places hallowed by the deaths of the martyrs, the lives of innumerable saints, the memories of wise and holy pontiffs. From Rome the bearers of the Gospel message went out to the peoples of Europe and eventually to the uttermost ends of the earth. To Rome, again, in every age countless pilgrims have thronged from all the nations, and especially from English-speaking countries. With religion the missionaries carried the best elements of ancient culture and civilization which Rome had preserved amid all the vicissitudes of barbaric invasion. To these treasures of antiquity have been added the productions of a nobler art inspired by higher ideals, that have filled Rome with masterpieces in architecture, painting, and sculpture. These appeal indeed to every mind endowed with artistic perception; but their full meaning only the Catholic believer can appreciate, because he alone, in his deepest thought and feeling, is at one with the spirit that pulsates here in the heart of the Christian world.

Many details concerning Rome have been set forth in other articles of THE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA. For the prerogatives of the papacy the reader is referred to POPE ; for the ecclesiastical government of the city and diocese, to CARDINAL VICAR ; for liturgical matters, to ROMAN RITE ; for education, to ROMAN COLLEGES ; for literary development, to ROMAN ACADEMIES ; for history, to the biographical articles on the various popes, and the articles CONSTANTINE THE GREAT, CHARLEMAGNE, etc. There is a special article on each of the religious orders, saints, and artists mentioned in this article, while the details of the papal administration, both spiritual and temporal, will be found treated under APOSTOLIC CAMERA ; PONTIFICAL AUDIENCES ; APOSTOLIC EXAMINERS ; HOLY SEE ; PAPAL RESCRIPTS ; ROMAN CONGREGATIONS ; ROMAN CURIA ; SACRA ROMANA ROTA ; STATES OF THE CHURCH, etc. Of the great Christian monuments of the Eternal City, special articles are devoted to BASILICA OF ST. PETER ; TOMB OF ST. PETER ; LATERAN BASILICA ; VATICAN ; CHAIR OF PETER .

The present article will be divided:

  • Topography and Existing Conditions;
  • General History of the City;
  • Churches and other Monuments.

I. TOPOGRAPHY AND EXISTING CONDITIONS

The City of Rome rises on the banks of the Tiber at a distance of from 16 to 19 miles from the mouth of that river, which makes a deep furrow in the plain which extends between the Alban hills, to the south; the hills of Palestrina and Tivoli, and the Sabine hills, to the east: and the Umbrian hills and Monte Tolfa, to the north. The city stands in latitude 41°54' N. and longitude 12°30' E. of Greenwich. It occupies, on the left bank, not only the plain, but also the adjacent heights, namely, portions of the Parioli hills, of the Pincian, the Quirinal, the Viminal, the Esquiline (which are only the extremities of a mountain-mass of tufa extending to the Alban hills), the Capitoline, the Cælian, the Palatine, and the Aventine -- hills which are now isolated. On the right bank is the valley lying beneath Monte Mario the Vatican, and the Janiculan, the last-named of which has now become covered with houses and gardens. The Tiber, traversing the city, forms two sharp bends and an island (S. Bartolomeo), and within the city its banks are protected by the strong and lofty walls which were begun in 1875. The river is crossed by fourteen bridges, one of them being only provisional, while ten have been built since 1870. There is also a railroad drawbridge near St. Paul's. Navigation on the river is practicable only for vessels of light draught, which anchor at Ripa Grande, taking cargoes of oil and other commodities.

For the cure of souls, the city is divided into 54 parishes (including 7 in the suburbs), administered partly by secular clergy, partly by regular. The boundaries of the parishes have been radically changed by Pius X, to meet new needs arising out of topographical changes. Each parish has, besides its parish priest, one or two assistant priests, a chief sacristan, and an indeterminate number of chaplains. The parish priests every year elect a chamberlain of the clergy, whose position is purely honorary; every month they assemble for a conference to discuss cases in moral theology and also the practical exigencies of the ministry. In each parish there is a parochial committee for Catholic works; each has its various confraternities, many of which have their own church and oratory. In the vast extent of country outside of Rome, along the main highways, there are chapels for the accommodation of the few settled inhabitants, and the labourers and shepherds who from October to July are engaged in the work of the open country. In former times most of these chapels had priests of their own, who also kept schools ; nowadays, through the exertions of the Society for the Religious Aid of the Agro Romano (i.e. the country districts around Rome), priests are taken thither from Rome every Sunday to say Mass, catechize, and preach on the Gospel. The houses of male religious number about 160; of female religious, 205, for the most part devoted to teaching, ministering to the sick in public and private hospitals, managing various houses of retreat etc. Besides the three patriarchal chapters ( see below, under "Churches"), there are at Rome eleven collegiate chapters.

In the patriarchal basilicas there are confessors for all the principal languages. Some nations have their national churches (Germans, Anima and Campo Santo; French, S. Luigi and S. Claudio; Croats, S. Girolamo dei Schiavoni; Belgians, S. Giuliano; Portuguese, S. Antonio; Spaniards, S. Maria in Monserrato; to all which may be added the churches of the Oriental rites ). Moreover, in the churches and chapels of many religious houses, particularly the generalates, as well as in the various national colleges, it is possible for foreigners to fulfil their religious obligations. For English-speaking persons the convents of the Irish Dominicans (S. Clemente) and of the Irish Franciscans (S. Isidoro), the English, Irish, and American Colleges, the new Church of S. Patrizio in the Via Ludovisi, that of S. Giorgio of the English Sisters in the Via S. Sebastianello, and particularly S. Silvestro in Capite (Pallottini) should be mentioned. In these churches, too, there are, regularly, sermons in English on feast-day afternoons, during Lent and Advent, and on other occasions. Sometimes there are sermons in English in other churches also, notice being given beforehand by bills posted outside the churches and by advertisements in the papers. First Communions are mostly made in the parish churches; many parents place their daughters in seclusion during the period of immediate preparation, in some educational institution. There are also two institutions for the preparation of boys for their First Communion, one of them without charge (Ponte Rotto). Christian doctrine is taught both in the day and night schools which are dependent either on the Holy See, or on religious congregations or Catholic associations. For those who attend the public elementary schools, parochial catechism is provided on Sunday and feast-day afternoons. For intermediate and university students suitable schools of religious instruction have been formed, connected with the language schools and the scholastic ripetizioni , so as to attract the young men. The confraternities, altogether 92 in number, are either professional (for members of certain professions or trades), or national, or for some charitable object (e.g., for charity to prisoners ; S. Lucia del Gonfalone and others like it, for giving dowries to poor young women of good character ; the Confraternità della Morte, for burying those who die in the country districts, and various confraternities for escorting funerals, of which the principal one is that of the Sacconi; that of S. Giovanni Decollato, to assist persons condemned to death ), or again they have some purely devotional aim, like the Confraternities of the Blessed Sacrament, of the Christian Doctrine, of the various mysteries of religion, and of certain saints.

For ecclesiastical instruction there are in the city, besides the various Italian and foreign colleges, three great ecclesiastical universities : the Gregorian, under the Jesuits ; the Schools of the Roman Seminary, at S. Apollinare; the Collegio Angelico of the Dominicans, formerly known as the Minerva. Several religious orders also have schools of their own -- the Benedictines at S. Anselmo, the Franciscans at S. Antonio, the Redemptorists at S. Alfonso, the Calced Carmelites at the College of S. Alberto, the. Capuchina the Minor Conventuals, the Augustinians, and others. ( See ROMAN COLLEGES .) For classical studies there are, besides the schools of S. Apollinare, the Collegio Massimo, under the Jesuits, comprising also elementary and technical schools ; the Collegio Nazareno (Piarists), the gymnasium and intermediate school of which take rank with those of the Government; the Instituto Angelo Mai (Barnabite). The Brothers of the Christian Schools have a flourishing technical institute (de Merode) with a boarding-house ( convitto ). There are eight colleges for youths under the direction of ecclesiastics or religious. The Holy See and the Society for the Protection of Catholic Interests also maintain forty-six elementary schools for the people mostly under the care of religious congregations. For the education of girls there are twenty-six institutions directed by Sisters, some of which also receive day-pupils. The orphanages are nine in number, and some of them are connected with technical and industrial schools. The Salesians, too, have a similar institution, and there are two agricultural institutions. Hospices are provided for converts from the Christian sects and for Hebrew neophytes. Thirty other houses of refuge, for infants, orphans, old people, etc., are directed by religious men or women.

As the capital of Italy, Rome is the residence of the reigning house, the ministers, the tribunals, and the other civil and military officials of both the national Government and the provincial. For public instruction there are the university, two technical institutes, a commercial high school, five gymnasium-lyceums, eight technical schools, a female institute for the preparation of secondary teachers, a national boarding school, and other lay institutions, besides a military college. There are also several private schools for languages etc. -- the Vaticana, the Nazionale (formed out of the libraries of the Roman College, of the Aracœli Convent and other monastic libraries partially ruined), the Corsiniana (now the School of the Accademia dei Lincei), the Casanatense (see CASANATTA), the Angelica (formerly belonging to the Augustinians), the Vallicellana (Oratorians, founded by Cardinal Baronius ), the Militare Centrale, the Chigiana, and others. (For the academies see ACADEMIES, ROMAN.) Foreign nations maintain institutions for artistic, historical, or archæological study (America, Great Britain, Austria-Hungary, Prussia, Holland, Belgium, France ). There are three astronomical and meteorological observatories: the Vatican, the Capitol (Campidoglio), and the Roman College ( Jesuit ), the last-named, situated on the Janiculan, has been suppressed. The museums and galleries worthy of mention are the Vatican (see VATICAN), those of Christian and of profane antiquities at the Lateran (famous for the "Dancing Satyr"; the "Sophocles", one of the finest of portrait statues in existence found at Terracina ; the "Neptune", the pagan and Christian sarcophagi with decorations in relief, and the statue of Hippolytus ). In the gallery at the Lateran there are paintings by Crivelli, Gozzoli, Lippi, Spagna, Francia, Palmezzano, Sassoferrato, and Seitz. The Capitoline Museum contains Roman prehistoric tombs and household furniture, reliefs from the Arch of Marcus Aurelius , a head of Amalasunta, a half-length figure of the Emperor Commodus, the epitaph of the infant prodigy Quintus Sulpicius Maximus, the Esquiline and the Capitoline Venuses, "Diana of the Ephesians", the Capitoline Wolf (Etruscan work of the fifth century B. C. ), Marforius, the Dying Gladiator, busts of the emperors and other famous men of antiquity, and Vespasian's "Lex regia"; the Gallery contains works by Spagna, Tintoretto, Caracci, Caravaggio, Guercino (St. Petronilla, the original of the mosaic in St. Peter's), Guido Reni, Titian, Van Dyke, Domenichino, Paolo Veronese, and other masters. There are important numismatic collections and collections of gold jewelry. The Villa Giulia has a collection of Etruscan terracotta; the Museo Romano, objects recently excavated; the Museo Kircheriano has been enlarged into an ethnographical museum. The Borghese Gallery is in the villa of the same name. The National Gallery, in the Exposition Building ( Palazzo dell' Esposizione ), is formed out of the Corsini, Sciarra, and Torlonia collections, together with modern acquisitions. There are also various private collections in different parts of the city.

The institutions of public charity are all consolidated in the Congregazione di Carità, under the Communal Administration. There are twenty-seven public hospitals, the most important of which are: the Polyclinic, which is destined to absorb all the others; S. Spirito, to which is annexed the lunatic asylum and the foundling hospital ; S. Salvatore, a hospital for women, in the Lateran; S. Giacomo; S. Antonio; the Consolazione; two military hospitals. There are also an institute for the blind, two clinics for diseases of the eye, twenty-five asylums for abandoned children, three lying-in hospitals, and numerous private clinics for paying patients. The great public promenades are the Pincian, adjoining the Villa Borghese and now known as the Umberto Primo, where a zoological garden has recently been installed, and the Janiculum. Several private parks or gardens, as the Villa Pamphili, are also accessible to the public every day.

The population of Rome in 1901 was 462,783. Of these 5000 were Protestants, 7000 Jews, 8200 of other religions and no religion. In the census now (1910) being made an increase of more than 100,000 is expected. Rome is now the most salubrious of all the large cities of Italy, its mortality for 1907 being 18.8 per thousand, against 19.9 at Milan and 19.6 at Turin. The Press is represented by five agencies: there are 17 daily papers, two of them Catholic ("Osservatore Romano" and "Corriere d'Italia"); 8 periodicals are issued once or oftener in the week (5 catholic, 4 in English -- "Rome", "Roman Herald", "Roman Messenger", "Roman World"); 88 are issued more than once a month (7 Catholic ); there are 101 monthlies (19 Catholic ); 55 periodicals appear less frequently than once a month.

II. GENERAL HISTORY OF THE CITY

Arms and implements of the Palæolithic Age, found in the near vicinity of Rome, testify to the presence of man here in those remote times. The most recent excavations have established that as early as the eighth century B. C. or, according to some, several centuries earlier, there was a group of human habitations on the Palatine Hill, a tufaceous ledge rising in the midst of marshy ground near the Tiber. (That river, it may be observed here, was known to the primitive peoples by the name of Rumo , "the River".) Thus is the traditional account of the origin of Rome substantially verified. At the same time, or very little later, a colony of Sabines was formed on the Quirinal, and on the Esquiline an Etruscan colony. Between the Palatine and the Quirinal rose the Capitoline, once covered by two sacred groves, afterwards occupied by the temple of Jupiter and the Rock. Within a small space, therefore, were established the advance guards of three distinct peoples of different characters; the Latins, shepherds; the Sabines, tillers of the soil; the Etruscans, already far advanced in civilization, and therefore in commerce and the industries. How these three villages became a city, with, first, the Latin influence preponderating, then the Sabine, then the Etruscan (the two Tarquins), is all enveloped in the obscurity of the history of the seven kings (753-509 B. C. ). The same uncertainty prevails as to the conquests made at the expense of the surrounding peoples. it is unquestionable that all those conquests had to be made afresh after the expulsion of the kings.

But the social organization of the new city during this period stands out clearly: There were three original tribes: the Ramnians (Latins), the Titians (Sabines), and the Luceres (Etruscans). Each tribe was divided into ten curiœ , each curia into ten gentes ; each gens into ten (or thirty) families. Those who belonged to these, the most ancient, tribes were Patricians, and the chiefs of the three hundred gentes formed the Senate. In the course of time and the wars with surrounding peoples, new inhabitants occupied the remaining hills; thus, under Tullus Hostilius, the Cælian was assigned to the population of the razed Alba Longa (Albano); the Sabines, conquered by Ancus Martius, had the Aventine. Later on, the Viminal was occupied. The new inhabitants formed the Plebeians ( Plebs ), and their civil rights were less than those of the older citizens. The internal history of Rome down to the Imperial Period is nothing but a struggle of plebeians against patricians for the acquisition of greater civil rights, and these struggles resulted in the civil, political, and juridical organization of Rome. The king was high-priest, judge, leader in war and head of the Government; the Senate and the Comitia of the People were convoked by him at his pleasure, and debated the measures proposed by him. Moreover, the kingly dignity was hereditary. Among the important public works in this earliest period were the drains, or sewers ( cloacœ ), for draining the marshes around the Palatine, the work of the Etruscan Tarquinius Priscus; the city wall was built by Servius Tullius, who also organized the Plebeians, dividing them into thirty tribes; the Sublician Bridge was constructed to unite the Rome of that time with the Janiculan.

During the splendid reign of Tarquinius Superbus, Rome was the mistress of Latium as far as Circeii and Signia. But, returning victorious from Ardea, the king found the gates of the city closed against him. Rome took to itself a republican form of government, with two consuls, who held office for only one year; only in times of difficulty was a dictator elected, to wield unlimited power. In the expulsion of Tarquinius Superbus some historians have seen a revolt of the Latin element against Etruscan domination. Besides wars and treaties with the Latins and other peoples, the principal events, down to the burning of Rome by the Gauls, were the institution of the tribunes of the people ( tribuni plebis ), the establishment of the laws of the Twelve Tables, and the destruction of Veii. In 390 the Romans were defeated by the Gauls near the River Allia; a few days later the city was taken and set on fire, and after the Gauls had departed it was rebuilt without plan or rule. Cumillus, the dictator, reorganized the army and, after long resistance to the change, at last consented that one of the consuls should be a plebeian. Southern Etruria became subject to Rome, with the capture of Nepi and Sutri in 386. The Appian Way and Aqueduct were constructed at this period. Very soon it was possible to think of conquering the whole peninsula. The principal stages of this conquest are formed by the three wars against the Samnites (victory of Suesaula 343); the victory of Bovianum, 304; those over the Etruscans and Umbrians, in 310 and 308; lastly the victory of Sentinum, in 295, over the combined Samnites, Etruscans, and Gauls. The Tarentine (282-272) and the First and Second Punic Wars (264-201) determined the conquest of the rest of Italy, with the adjacent islands, as well as the first invasion of Spain.

Soon after this, the Kingdom of Macedonia (Cynoscephalæ, 197; Pydna, 168) and Greece (capture of Corinth, 146) were subdued, while the war against Antiochus of Syria (192-89) and against the Galatians (189) brought Roman supremacy into Asia, In 146 Carthage was destroyed, and Africa reduced to subjection; between 149 and 133 the conquest of Spain was completed. Everywhere Roman colonies sprang up. With conquest, the luxurious vices of the conquered peoples also came to Rome, and thus the contrast between patricians and plebeians was accentuated. To champion the cause of the plebeians there arose the brothers Tiberius and Calus Gracchus. The Servile Wars (132-171) and the Jugurthine War (111-105) revealed the utter corruption of Roman society. Marius and Sulla, both of whom had won glory in foreign wars, rallied to them the two opposing parties, Democratic and Aristocratic, respectively. Sulla firmly established his dictatorship with the victory of the Colline Gate (83), reorganized the administration, and enacted some good laws to arrest the moral decay of the city. But the times were ripe for the oligarchy, which was to lead in the natural course of events to the monarchy. In the year 60, Cæsar, Pompey, and Crassus formed the first Triumvirate. While Cæsar conquered Gaul (58-50), and Crassus waged an unsuccessful war against the Parthians (54-53), Pompey succeeded in gaining supreme control of the capital. The war between Pompey to whom the nobles adhered, and Cæsar, who had the democracy with him, was inevitable. The battle of Pharsalia (48) decided the issue; in 45 Cæsar was already thinking of establishing monarchical government; his assassination (44) could do no more than delay the movement towards monarchy. Another triumvirate was soon formed by Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian; Antony and Octavian disagreed, and at Actium (32) the issue was decided in Octavian's favour. Roman power had meanwhile been consolidated and extended in Spain, in Gaul, and even as far as Pannonia, in Pontus, in Palestine, and in Egypt. Henceforward Roman history is no longer the history of the City of Rome, although it was only under Caracalla ( A. D. 211) that Roman citizenship was accorded to all free subjects of the empire.

In the midst of these political vicissitudes the city was growing and being beautified with temples and other buildings, public and private. On the Campus Martius and beyond the Tiber, at the foot of the Janiculan, new and populous quarters sprang up with theatres (those of Pompey and of Marcellus) and circuses (the Maximus and the Flaminius, 221 B. C. ). The centre of political life was the Forum, which had been the market before the centre of buying and selling was transferred, in 388, to the Campus Martius ( Forum Holitorium ), leaving the old Forum Romanum to the business of the State. Here were the temples of Concord (366), Saturn (497), the Dî Consentes, Castor and Pollux (484), the Basilica Æmilia (179), the Basilica Julia (45), the Curia Hostilia (S. Adriano), the Rostra, etc. Scarcely had the empire been consolidated when Augustus turned his attention to the embellishment of Rome, and succeeding emperors followed his example: brick-built Rome became marble Rome. After the sixth decade B.C. many Hebrews had settled at Rome, in the Trastevere quarter and that of the Porta Capena, and soon they became a financial power. They were incessantly making proselytes, especially among the women of the upper classes. The names of thirteen synagogues are known as existing (though not all at the same time ) at Rome during the Imperial Period. Thus was the way prepared for the Gospel, whereby Rome, already mistress of the world, was to be given a new sublimer and more lasting, title to that dominion -- the dominion over the souls of all mankind.

Even on the Day of Pentecost, "Roman strangers" ( advenœ Romani , Acts 2:10 ) were present at Jerusalem, and they surely must have carried the good news to their fellow-citizens at Rome. Ancient tradition assigns to the year 42 the first coming of St. Peter to Rome, though, according to the pseudo-Clementine Epistles, St. Barnabas was the first to preach the Gospel in the Eternal City. Under Claudius (c. A.D. 50), the name of Christ had become such an occasion of discord among the Hebrews of Rome that the emperor drove them all out of the city, though they were not long in returning. About ten years later Paul also arrived, a prisoner, and exercised a vigorous apostolate during his sojourn. The Christians were numerous at that time, even at the imperial Court. The burning of the city -- by order of Nero, who wished to effect a thorough renovation -- was the pretext for the first official persecution of the Christian name. Moreover, it was very natural that persecution, which had been occasional, should in course of time have become general and systematic; hence it is unnecessary to transfer the date of the Apostles' martyrdom from the year 67, assigned by tradition, to the year 64 (see PETER, SAINT; PAUL, SAINT). Domitian's reign took its victims both from among the opponents of absolutism and from the Christians ; among them some who were of very exalted rank -- Titus Flavius Clemens, Acilius Glabrio (Cemetery of Priscilla), and Flavia Domitilla, a relative of the emperor. It must have been then, too, that St. John, according to a very ancient legend ( Tertullian ), was brought to Rome.

The reign of Trajan and Adrian was the culminating point of the arts at Rome. The Roman martyrdoms attributed to this period are, with the exception of St. Ignatius's, somewhat doubtful. At the same time the heads of various Gnostic sects settled at Rome, notably Valentinus, Cerdon, and Marcion ; but it does not appear that they had any great following. Under Antoninus, Marcus Aurelius, and Commodus, several Roman martyrs are known -- Pope St. Telesphorus, Sts. Lucius, Ptolemæus, Justin and companions, and the Senator Apollonius. Under Commodus, thanks to Martia, his morganatic wife, the condition of the Christians improved. At the same time the schools of Rhodon, St. Justin, and others flourished. But three new heresies from the East brought serious trouble to the internal peace of the Church : that of Theodotus, the shoemaker of Byzantium; that of Noetus brought in by one Epigonus; and Montanism. In the struggle against these heresies, particularly the last-named, the priest Hippolytus, a disciple of St. Irenæus, bore a distinguished part but he, in his turn, incurred the censures of Popes Zephyrinus and Callistus and became the leader of a schismatical party. But the controversies between Hippolytus and Callistus were not confined to theological questions, but also bore upon discipline, the pope thinking proper to introduce certain restrictions. Another sect transplanted to Rome at this period was that of the Elcesaites.

The persecution of Septimius Severus does not appear to have been very acute at Rome, where, before this time, many persons of rank -- even of the imperial household -- had been Christians. The long period of tranquillity, hardly interrupted by Maximinus (235-38), fostered the growth of Roman church organization; so much so that, under Cornelius, after the first fury of the Decian persecution, the city numbered about 50,000 Christians. The last-named persecution produced many Roman martyrs -- Pope St. Fabian among the first -- and many apostates, and the problem of reconciling the latter resulted in the schism of Novatian. The persecution of Valerian, too, fell first upon the Church of Rome. Under Aurelian (271-76), the menace of an invasion of the Germans who had already advanced as far as Pesaro compelled the emperor to restore and extend the walls of Rome. The persecution of Diocletian also had its victims in the city, although there are no trustworthy records of them; it did not last long, however, in the West. Maxentius went so far as to restore to the Christians their cemeteries and other landed property, and, if we are to believe Eusebius, ended by showing them favour, as a means of winning popularity. At this period several pretentious buildings were erected -- baths, a circus, a basilica, etc. In the fourth and fifth centuries the city began to be embellished with Christian buildings, and the moribund art of antiquity thus received a new accession of vitality.

Of the heresies of this period, Arianism alone disturbed the religious peace for a brief space; even Pelagianiam failed to take root. The conflict between triumphant Christianity and dying Paganism was more bitter. Symmachus, Prætextatus, and Nicomachus were the most zealous and most powerful defenders of the ancient religion. At Milan, St. Ambrose kept watch. By the end of the fourth century the deserted temples were becoming filled with cobwebs; pontiffs and vestals were demanding baptism. The statues of the gods served as public ornaments; precious objects were seldom plundered, and until the year 526 not one temple was converted to the uses of Christian worship. In, 402 the necessity once more arose of fortifying Rome. The capital of the world, which had never beheld a hostile army since the days of Hannibal, in 408 withstood the double siege of Alaric. But the Senate, mainly at the instigation of a pagan minority, treated with Alaric, deposed Honorius, and enthroned a new emperor Attalus. Two years later, Alaric returned, succeeded in taking the city, and sacked it. It is false, however, that the destruction of Rome began then. Under Alaric, as in the Gothic war of the sixth century, only so much was destroyed as military exigencies rendered inevitable. The intervention of St. Leo the Great saved the Eternal City from the fury of Attila, but could not prevent the Vandals, in 456, from sacking it without mercy for fifteen days: statues, gold, silver, bronze, brass -- whether the property of the State, or of the Church, or of private persons -- were taken and shipped to Carthage.

Rome still called itself the capital of the empire, but since the second century it had seen the emperors only at rare and fleeting moments; even the kings of Italy preferred Ravenna as a residence. Theodoric, nevertheless, made provision for the outward magnificence of the city, preserving its monuments so far as was possible. Pope St. Agapetus and the learned Cassiodorus entertained the idea of creating at Rome a school of advanced Scripture studies, on the model of that which flourished at Edessa, but the Gothic invasion made shipwreck of this design. In that Titanic war Rome stood five sieges. In 536 Belisarius took it without striking a blow. Next year Vitiges besieged it, cutting the aqueducts, plundering the outlying villas, and even penetrating into the catacombs ; the city would have been taken had not the garrison of Hadrian's tomb defended themselves with fragments of the statues of heroes and gods which they found in that monument. Soon after the departure of Pope Vigilius from Rome (November, 545), King Totila invested it and captured a fleet bearing supplies sent by Vigilius, who by that time had passed over to Sicily. In December, 546, the city was captured, through the treachery of the Isaurian soldiery, and once more sacked. Totila, obliged to set out for the south, forced the whole population of Rome to leave the city, so that it was left uninhabited; but they returned with Belisarius in 547. Two years later, another Isaurian treachery made Totila once more master of the city, which then for the last time saw the games of the circus. After the battle of Taginæ (552), Rome opened its gates to Narces and became Byzantine. The ancient Senate and the Roman nobility were extinct. There was a breathing-space of sixteen years, and then the Lombards drew near to Rome, pillaging and destroying the neighbouring regions. St. Gregory the Great has described the lamentable condition of the city; the same saint did his best to remedy matters. The seventh century was disastrously marked by a violent assault on the Lateran made by Mauricius, the chartularius of the Exarch of Ravenna (640), by the exile of Pope St. Martin (653), and by the visit of the Emperor Constans I (663). The imprisonment of St. Sergius, which had been ordered by Justinian II, was prevented by the native troops of the Exarchate.

In the eighth century the Lombards, with Liutprand, were seized with the old idea of occupying all Italy, and Rome in particular. The popes, from Gregory II on, saved the city and Italy from Lombard domination by the power of their threats, until they were finally rescued by the aid of Pepin, when Rome and the peninsula came under Frankish domination. Provision was made for the material well-being of the city by repairs on the walls and the aqueducts, and by the establishment of agricultural colonies ( domus cultœ ) for the cultivation of the wide domains surrounding the city. But in Rome itself there were various factions -- favouring either the Franks or the Lombards, or, later on, Frankish or Nationalist -- and these factions often caused tumults, as, in particular, on the death of Paul I (767) and at the beginning of Leo III's pontificate (795). With the coronation of Charlemagne (799) Rome became finally detached from the Empire of the East. Though the pope was master of Rome, the power of the Sword was wielded by the imperial missi , and this arrangement came to be more clearly defined by the Constitution of Lothair (824). Thus the government was divided. In the ninth century the pope had to defend Rome and Central Italy against the Saracens. Gregoriopolis, the Leonine City, placed outside the walls for the defence of the Basilica of St. Peter, and sacked in 846, and Joannipolis, for the defence of St. Paul's were built by Gregory IV, Leo IV , and John VIII. The latter two and John X also gained splendid victories over these barbarians.

The decline of the Carlovingian dynasty was not without its effect upon the papacy and upon Rome, which became a mere lordship of the great feudal families, especially those of Theodora and Marozia. When Hugh of Provence wished to marry Marozia, so as to become master of Rome, his son Alberic rebelled against him and was elected their chief by the Romans, with the title of Patrician ( Patricius ) and Consul. The temporal power of the pope might then have come to an end, had not John, Alberic's son, reunited the two powers. But John's life and his conduct of the government necessitated the intervention of the Emperor Otto I (963), who instituted the office of prœfectus urbis , to represent the imperial authority. (This office became hereditary in the Vico family.) Order did not reign for long: Crescentius, leader of the anti-papal party, deposed and murdered popes. It was only for a few brief intervals that Otto II (980) and Otto III (996-998-1002) were able to re-establish the imperial and pontifical authority. At the beginning of the eleventh century three popes of the family of the counts of Tusculum immediately succeeded each other, and the last of the three, Benedict IX, led a life so scandalous as made it necessary for Henry III to intervene (1046). The schism of Honorius II and the struggle between Gregory VII and Henry IV exasperated party passions at Rome, and conspicuous in the struggle was another Crescentius, a member of the Imperialist Party. Robert Guiscard, called to the rescue by Gregory VII, sacked the city and burned a great part of it, with immense destruction of monuments and documents. The struggle was revived under Henry V, and Rome was repeatedly besieged by the imperial troops.

Then followed the schism of Pier Leone (Anacletus II), which had hardly been ended, in 1143, when Girolamo di Pierleone, counselled by Arnold of Brescia, made Rome into a republic, modelled after the Lombard communes, under the rule of fifty-six senators. In vain did Lucius II attack the Capitol, attempting to drive out the usurpers. The commune was in opposition no less to the imperial than to the papal authority. At first the popes thought to lean on the emperors, and thus Adrian IV induced Barbarossa to burn Arnold alive (1155). Still, just as in the preceding century, every coronation of an emperor was accompanied by quarrels and fights between the Romans and the imperial soldiery. In 1188 a modus vivendi was established between the commune and Clement III, the people recognizing the pope's sovereignty and conceding to him the right of coinage, the senators and military captains being obliged to swear fealty to him. But the friction did not cease. Innocent III (1203) was obliged to flee from Rome, but, on the other hand, the friendly disposition of the mercantile middle class facilitated his return and secured to him some influence in the affairs of the communes, in which he obtained the appointment of a chief of the Senate, known as "the senator" (1207). The Senate, therefore, was reduced to the status of the Communal Council of Rome; the senator was the syndic, or mayor, and remained so until 1870. In the conflicts between the popes, on the one hand, and, on the other Frederick II and his heirs, the Senate was mostly Imperialist, cherishing some sort of desire for the ancient independence; at times, however, it was divided against itself (as in 1262, for Richard, brother of the King of England, against Manfred, King of Naples ).

In 1263 Charles of Anjou, returning from the conquest of Naples, caused himself to be elected senator for life;. but Urban IV obliged him to be content with a term of ten years. Nicholas III forbade that any foreign prince should be elected senator, and in 1278 he himself held the office. The election was always to be subject to the pope's approval. However, these laws soon fell into desuetude. The absence of the popes from Rome had the most disastrous results for the city: anarchy prevailed; the powerful families of Colonna, Savelli, Orsini, Anguillara, and others lorded it with no one to gainsay them; the pope's vicars were either stupid or weak; the monuments crumbled of themselves or were destroyed; sheep and cows were penned in the Lateran Basilica ; no new buildings arose, except the innumerable towers, or keeps, of which Brancaleone degli Andalò, the senator (1252-56) caused more than a hundred to be pulled down; the revival of art, so promising in the thirteenth century was abruptly cut off. The mad enterprise of Cola di Rieuzo only added to the general confusion. The population was reduced to about 17,000. The Schism of the West, with the wars of King Ladislaus (1408 and 1460, siege and sack of Rome), kept the city from benefiting by the popes' return as quickly as it should. Noteworthy, however, is the understanding between Boniface IX and the Senate as to their respective rights (1393). This pope and Innocent VII also made provision for the restoration of the city.

With Martin V the renascence of Rome began. Eugene IV again was driven out by the Romans, and Nicholas V had to punish the conspiracy of Stefano Porcari; but the patronage of letters by the popes and the new spirit of humanism obliterated the memory of these longings for independence. Rome became the city of the arts and of letters, of luxury and of dissoluteness. The population, too, changed in character and dialect, which had before more nearly approached the Neapolitan, but now showed the influence of immigration from Tuscany, Umbria, and the Marches. The sack of 1527 was a judgment, and a salutary warning to begin that reformation of manners to which the Brothers of the Oratory of Divine Love (the nucleus of the Theatine Order ) and, later, the Jesuits and St. Philip Neri devoted themselves. In the war between Paul IV and Philip II (1556), the Colonna for the last time displayed their insubordination to the Pontific


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Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

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