DIOCESE OF MAZZARA DEL VALLO (MAZARIENSIS).
The city is situated in the province of Trepani, Sicily, on the Mediterranean, at the mouth of the Mazzara River. It carries on a large lemon trade, has several mineral springs in the vicinity, and occupies the site of the emporium of ancient Silinus. The port very early attracted a Megarian colony (630 B.C.); in 409 B.C. it was taken by the Carthaginians; and in 249 was completely destroyed and its inhabitants deported to Lilybaeum (Marsala). Gradually there arose around the port a new city, captured by Sarcarens in 827. It was later made the capital of one of the three great valli into which the Saracens divided Sicily. In the struggle of the Saracens against the Normans for the possession of the island, Mazzara was hotly contested, especially in 1075 when the Saracens were completely routed by Count Roger. The episcopal See of Lilybaeum was then transferred to Mazzara. Of the bishops of Lilybaeum the best known is Paschasinus, legate of Leo I at the Council of Chalcedon (451). The first Bishop of Mazzara was Stefano de Ferro, a relative of Count Roger (1093). The cathedral was then founded, and later embellished by Bishop Tristiano (1157). Other noteworthy bishops were Cardinal Bessarion (1449); Giovanni de Monteaperto( 1470), who restored the cathedral and founded a library ; Bernardo Gasco (1579), of Toledo, founder of the seminary ; Cardinal Gian Domenico Spinola (1637); the Franciscan Francesco M. Graffeo (1685). In 1844 the newly erected diocese of Marsala was separated from Mazzara. Mazzara is a suffragan of Palermo, has 23 parishes, 430 priests, 5 religious houses of men and 29 of women, 3 schools for boys and 25 for girls, and a population of 276,000.
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