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Sitifis

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(Sitifensis).

Titular see in Mauretania Sitifensis. Sitifis, situated in Mauretania Caesarensis, on the road from Carthage to Cirta, was of no importance under the Numidian kings and became prominent only when Nerva established a colony of veterans there. When Mauretania Sitifensis was created, at the close of the third century, Sitifis became its capital. Under the Vandals it was the chief town of a district called Zaba. It was still the capital of a province under Byzantine rule and was then a place of strategic importance. Captured by the Arabs in the seventh century, it was almost ruined at the time of the French occupation (1838). It is now Setif, the chief town of an arrondissement in the Department of Constantine, Algeria. It contains 15,000 inhabitants, of whom 3700 are Europeans and 1,600 Jews ; it has a trade in cattle, cereals, leather, and cloths. Interesting Christian inscriptions are to be found there, one of 452 mentioning the relics of St. Lawrence , another naming two martyrs of Sitifis, Justus and Decurius; there are a museum and the ruins of a Byzantine fortress. St. Augustine, who had frequent relations with Sitifis, informs us that in his time it contained a monastery and an episcopal school, and that it suffered from a violent earthquake, on which occasion 2000 persons, through fear of death, received baptism (Ep., lxxxiv; Serm., xix). Five bishops of this see are known: Servus, in 409, mentioned in a letter of St. Augustine; Novatus present at the Council of Carthage (484), and exiled by Huneric; Optatus, at the Council of Carthage (525).

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