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DIOCESE OF FOLIGNO (FULGINATENSIS).

Diocese in the province of Perugia, Italy, immediately subject to the Holy See. The city, situated on the river Topino, was founded on the site of the ancient Christian cemetery surrounding the basilica of San Feliciano, outside the ancient city of Fulginium, which, after the battle on the Esinus (295 B.C.), was annexed to Rome. The splendour of the ancient city is attested by numerous ruins of temples, aqueducts, circuses, etc. In the municipal museum of Foligno is a large collection of household utensils of the Roman and Umbrian periods. Mention must also be made of the Foligno "Hercules", a famous statue now in the Louvre at Paris. After the Lombard invasion (565) the city formed part of the Duchy of Spoleto, with which, in the eighth century, it came into the possession of the Holy See . During the thirteenth century it was Ghibelline, but in 1305 the Guelphs under Nello Trinci expelled the Ghibellines with their leader Corrado Anastasi; thenceforth until 1439 the Trinci governed the city as the pope's vicars. In 1420 their rule was extended to Assisi, Spello, Bevagna, Nocera, Trevi, Giano, and Montefalco.

Art and literature flourished vigorously at Foligno. Evidence of this may still be seen in the Trinci palace, with its magnificent halls decorated by Ottaviano Nelli, Gentile da Fabriano, and others. Better preserved is the chapel, on the ceiling of which is pictured the life of the Blessed Virgin; in the adjoining room the story of Romulus and Remus is depicted. Another room is called "The Hall of Astronomy "; the largest is "The Hall of the Giants", so called from its immense portraits of personages of Biblical and Roman history. This splendid edifice has unfortunately been disgracefully neglected and now serves as a court of justice, prison, etc. At the court of the Trinci, especially Nicolò, were many distinguished poets, e.g. Mastro Paolo da Foligno. Fra Tommasuccio da Nocera, Candido Bontempi, and others; the most illustrious was the Dominican Federigo Frezzi, Bishop of Foligno (1403), whose "Quadriregio" is a kind of commentary on the "Hall of the Giants". After the murder of Nicolò Trinci in 1437, his brother Corrado began to rule in a tyrannical way; Eugene IV, therefore, in 1439 sent Cardinal Vitelleschi to demand his submission. Henceforth Foligno enjoyed a large communal liberty under a papal governor.

There is reason to believe that Christianity was introduced at Foligno in the first half of the second century. St. Felicianus, the patron of the city, though certainly not the first bishop, was consecrated by Pope Victor and martyred under Decius (24 January); the exact dates of his history are uncertain (Acta SS., Jan., II, 582-88; Analecta Boll., 1890, 381). Until 471 no other bishop is known. St. Vincentius of Laodicea in Syria was made bishop by Pope Hormisdas in 523. Of subsequent bishops the following may be mentioned: Eusebius, who persuaded King Luitprand to spare the city (740); Azzo degli Azzi, who distinguished himself at the Council of Rome in 1059 against Berengarius ; Bonfiglio de' Bonfigli, who took part in the First Crusade ; Blessed Antonio Bettini (1461), a Jesuit ; Isidoro Clario (1547), a theologian at the Council of Trent. In 1146 a council was held at Foligno. The cathedral, of very early date, and possessing a beautiful crypt, was rebuilt in 1133; in 1201 a wing, with a façade, was added, famous for its sculptures by Binello and Rodolfo (statues of Frederick Barbarossa and of Bishop Anselm), restored in 1903. Other churches are: Santa Maria infra Portas, of the Lombard period, with Byzantine frescoes; San Claudio (1232); San Domenico (1251); San Giovanni Profiamma (1231), whose name recalls the ancient city of Forum Flaminii. The monastery of Sassovivo (1229), with a remarkable cloister of 120 columns, and the Palazzo Communale are also noteworthy.

The diocese has 55 parishes, 31,000 inhabitants, 3 male and 3 female educational institutions, 4 religious houses of men, and 12 of women ; it has also a weekly Catholic paper.


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