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DIOCESE OF MELFI AND RAPOLLA (MELPHIENSIS ET RAPOLLENSIS)

Diocese in the province of Potenza, in Basilicata, southern Italy. Melfi is situated on a pleasant hill, on the slopes of Mt. Volture. The origin of the city is not well known; but the town became famous in 1043, when it was chosen capital of the new military state created in southern Italy by the twelve Norman counts, founders of the Kingdom of Naples. Nicholas II made it a diocese immediately dependent on the Holy See, its first bishop was Baldwin. Its beautiful cathedral, a work of Bishop Roger, son of Robert Guiscard (1155), was destroyed by the earthquake of 1851. Among its other bishops, mention should be made of Fra Alessandro de San Elpidio, a former general of the Augustinians (1328), and a learned theologian. In 1528, Clement VII, in view of the scarcity of its revenues, united the Diocese of Rapolla to that of Melfi, "aeque principaliter". Rapolla is a city founded by the Lombards, on the banks of the Olivento River. The Normans took it from the Greeks in 1042, and fortified it with works still to be seen. The town, which has a beautiful cathedral, was an episcopal see, suffragan of Siponto, in the time of Gregory VII. Other bishops were Cardinal Giovanni Vincenzo Acquaviva (1537), who gave a noble organ to the cathedral, and Lazzro Caraffini (1622), founder of the seminary. Several councils were held at Melfi; one in 1048; another 1059, under Nicholas II, important on account of the prohibition of the marriage of priests, the deposition of the Bishop of Trani, promoter of the schism of Cerularius, and the investiture of Robert Guiscard of the Ducy of Apulia and Calabria; the council of 1067, the one of 1089, against simony and the concubinage of priests, and for the freedom of the Church ; lastly, the council of 1100. The united sees have 14 parishes, with 40,000 inhabitants, 66 priests, 5 religious houses of women, and 1 school for boys and 1 for girls.


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