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Diocese of Terracina, Sezze, and Piperno

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Located in the Province of Rome. The city of Terracina is near the estuary of the Amaseno, on a promontory (the old town), and beside the Via Appia (the new town, founded by Pius VI ). The harbour, one of the safest in the Mediterranean, is frequented mostly by coasting-vessels engaged in exporting grain from the Pontine marshes, and wine, oil, and vegetables from the Lepinian hills; hunting in the neighbouring woods and the fishing industry are also carried on with profit by the inhabitants. There are ruins of the temple of Rome and Augustus, at the place now occupied by the cathedral of St. Cæsareus, containing the pillars of the temple and an ambo with mosaics. On one of the promontories are ruins of the great temple of Venus; also traces of the fortifications and of the palace of Theodoric. Terracina, called by the Romans Tarracina, the ancient Auxur, was a Latin city, and was subject to Rome under the kings. Later it was captured by the Volscians, who in 406 B. C. ceded it to the Romans. Hannibal, after capturing Capua, failed to take it. Under Antoninus Pius the harbour was enlarged. It was included in Pepin's donation to the Holy See, but about 780 was captured by the Byzantines, who, however, were expelled by Charlemagne. The Saracens landed there on several occasions during the ninth century. Later it was a fief of the Frangipani, but Gregory IX included it among the places which were always to be immediately subject to the Holy See. In 1798, the French commander having been slain during a revolt, the city was sacked. According to tradition, the first Bishop of Terracina was St. Epaphroditus. The most ancient Christian record of the city is that of the martyrdom of St. Julianus, priest, and St. Cæsareus, deacon, who were cast into the sea under Trajan ; in the third century St. Quartus ( bishop ?) suffered. The first bishop whose date is known with certainty is Sabinus (313). Among his successors were: an African priest, St. Silvianus, a fugitive during the Vandal persecution (about 443); Petrus (590), during whose episcopate the Jews were persecuted so severely in Terracina that St. Gregory the Great had to intervene; under Agnellus, former Bishop of Fundi, which city had been destroyed, the two dioceses were united; the last three letters only of the name of another Bishop of Terracina, . . . vsa, are preserved in an inscription (Corp. Inscr. Lat., X, I, 6419); other bishops were: Joannes (969), who made the vow that the inhabitants of the city should offer each year 6,000 eels to the monastery of Monte Cassino ; Ambrosius (1066), a Benedictine and ecclesiastical reformer; Gregorius (1106), a Benedictine surnamed Columna Ecclesiœ . About this time, if not earlier, the sees of Piperno (Privernum) and Sezze (Setia), situated on the side of the Lepinian hills, were united to Terracina. The earliest of the seven known bishops of Piperno is Bonifacius (769). There is moreover an ancient Christian cemetery at Piperno. The first mention of a Bishop of Sezze is a reference to Stephanus (1036) in the time of Pollidius (1046), St. Ligdanus founded the Monastery of St. Cecilia near Sezze: among the others was Lando, who in 1178, under the name of Innocent III, usurped the papal tiara. The union of the three dioceses was confirmed by Honorius III (1217) during the episcopate of Simeone. Among his successors were: the Franciscan Fra Giovanni (1362), who consecrated the cathedral ; Zaccaria Mori (1510), present at the Fifth Lateran Council ; Ottaviano Rovera (1545), nuncio in Switzerland and Spain ; Bernardo M. Conti (1710), brother of Innocent XIII, cardinal. In 1725 Benedict XIII restored the See of Piperno and Sezze, declaring them united œque principaliter . Bishop Francesco Antonio Mondelli (1805) was exiled in 1809, for refusing to take the oath of loyalty to Napoleon. The famous Cistercian Abbey of Fossa Nuova is within the territory of this see. The diocese, which is immediately subject to the Holy See, contains 22 parishes, 45,000 inhabitants, 94 secular and 15 regular priests, 3 religious houses for men, 10 for nuns, 1 institute for boys and 3 for girls.

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