Skip to content

Diocese of Parma

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

Located in central Italy. The city is situated on the river of the same name, an affluent of the Po, flowing through a fertile plain, where grain and vines are cultivated; it also contains many fine pastures; the silk culture is highly developed, as also the cheese, tobacco, and leather industries.

The cathedral was begun in 1060, to replace the ancient one destroyed by fire two years earlier; finished in 1074, it was dedicated in 1106 by Paschal II. It is a fine example of the Lombard style, in the shape of a Latin cross, with three naves ; three tiers of galleries, supported by small columns, give a bright aspect to the façade ; the cupola, of the sixteenth century, is adorned with frescoes by Correggio, Parmigianino (Girolamo Mazzuola), and other masters; the inlaid work and the carvings of the choir and of the sacristy are by Lendinara and the Consorzialis; there are four statues by Giacomo and Damiano da Gonzate; the ciborium of the high altar, with its beautiful sculptures, is of the fifteenth century; in the crypt is the tomb of the Bishop St. Bernardo, with sculptures by Prospero Clementi. The baptistery is separate, in the shape of an irregular octagon, and was begun in 1196 by the architect and sculptor Benedetto Antelami.

Other churches of note are: San Giovanni Evangelista, formerly of the Benedictines, founded in 981, restored in 1510, façade by Simone Moschino (1604), contains the best paintings of Correggio and Mazzuola ; the Steccata (1521), by Zaccagni, on the plan of a Greek cross, with a majestic cupola, containing pictures by Parmigianino and other masters; the Annunziata, in which there are frescoes by Correggio; Santa Maria del Quartiere, the cupola of which was painted by Barnabei; S. Rocco; S. Antonio; S. Sepolcro contains works by Baglioni, Cignaroli, and Mazzola ; and the Oratorio di S. Lodovico, formerly the ducal chapel. Among the palaces are: del Giardino (1564), with frescoes by Carracci ; della Pilotta (1597), with a museum of antiquities, and a gallery of paintings especially rich in works by Correggio; and the Biblioteca Palatina, containing 303,836 volumes, 4770 manuscripts and 60,000 copper engravings. There are monuments in honour of Correggio and Parmigianino. The university, which dates from 1025, was instituted with pontifical privileges only in 1392, and was developed, more especially, by Duke Ferdinando di Borbone; there are several intermediary schools, besides the episcopal seminary, a seminary for foreign missions, an Accademia of the fine arts, and State archives.

Parma was a city of the Boian Gauls, to which a Roman colony was sent in 183 B. C. In 377, the town suffered so greatly from the barbarians that St. Ambrose numbers it among the ruined cities. The Lombards took the city in 569 or 570, but their chief in 590 placed himself under the exarch Callinicus, who in 601 took possession of Parma, and imprisoned the Duke Godiscalc; the city however soon returned to the Lombards (603). According to the "Vita Hadriani", Parma was comprised in the donation of Pepin to the Holy See ; but in reality, it appears to have belonged to the kings of Italy, who, in the tenth century, gave over the government to its bishops, in whose hands it remained until St. Bernardo resigned it in 1106; from which time the city governed itself as a free commune, first under a consul, and then under a podestà. In 1167 it was obliged to join the Lombard League. In the thirteenth century (1199, 1200, 1204), Parma was at war with its neighbour Piacenza ; later it aroused the indignation of Innocent III by the robbery of a pontifical legate. In 1218 a peace was established. In the struggle between the popes and Frederick II, Parma was at first on the side of the emperor; but in 1247, the Guelphs obtained possession of the town, which Frederick attempted in vain to take. Uberto Pallavicino, a native of Parma and a Ghibelline, stood out against Ezzelino, and succeeded in becoming podestà of Parma. In the fourteenth century (1303-16) Gilberto da Correggio became lord; after him, Gianquirico Sanvitale and the brothers de' Rossi contended for the lordship; then came John of Bohemia (1331), Mastino della Scala (1335-41), the sons of da Correggio, Obizzo d'Este.

Finally, through purchase, Parma was annexed to the Duchy of Milan, and so remained, except for a time when it was governed by the de' Rossi and by the Terzi (1404-20), until 1499, when Louis XII of France took possession. In 1512 Julius II united Parma to the Pontifical States ; it should be said that John of Bohemia had previously held it as a fief of the Holy See ; but from 1515 to 1521, the city was again in the hands of the King of France. In 1545, Paul III erected Parma and Piacenza into a duchy, in favour of his son Pierluigi Farnese; then began for Parma an era of splendour, during which Correggio (Allegri), Mazzola, and other famous masters showered treasures of art upon it. Pierluigi, loved by the people and hated by the nobles, fell at Piacenza, 10 Sept., 1547, the victim of a conspiracy directed by Ferrante Gonsaga, imperial Governor of Milan. The garrison of Parma prevented the city from falling into the power of Ferrante, as Piacenza fell; and after long negotiations with the emperor, the son of Pierluigi, Ottavio, was confirmed in the duchy by Julius III in 1550. That prince governed wisely, and a conspiracy against him by Count Landi was happily frustrated.

He was succeeded in 1585 by Alessandro Farnese, who became famous in the wars of Flanders and of France, and who died of a wound at Arras, in 1592. Ranuccio enlarged the state and protected study, founding a college of nobles; his son Odoardo, in 1622, succeeded to the duchy, which was governed during his minority by his mother Margherita and his uncle Cardinal Odoardo, as regents. During this reign there arose the contention with the Barberini for possession of the Duchy of Castro, an ancient fief of the Farnese, and that strife ended in the destruction of Castro, in 1649 under the son of Ranuccio II (1646-94). Duke Francesco, having died without children, was succeded by his brother Antonio (1727-31), who also died without issue; and the succession to the duchy complicated the War of the Spanish Succession. By the treaty of Seville, the duchy was given to Charles of Bourbon, son of Philip V of Spain and Isabella Farnese (daughter of Francesco); and when Charles ascended the throne of Naples, the Peace of Vienna gave Parma to Austria (1736; the battle of Parma, 1734); but the intrigues of Isabella did not cease until the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle had given the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza, enlarged with that of Guastalla, to her other son Philip (1749). This prince inaugurated a French absolutism in the duchy, especially at the expense of the Church. In 1765 he fell from his horse, was trampled upon, and dogs tore him to pieces. Under Ferdinando (1765-1802) relations with the Holy See grew still more strained in imitation of the French court, he first concentrated, and then suppressed the religious houses, and was supported against Rome by the other Bourbon courts. In 1802 the duchy was annexed to the French republic, In 1814 it was given to Marie Louise, wife of Napoleon, against whom a revolution broke out in 1831, but was quickly suppressed by Austrian troops. Marie Louise was succeeded by Carlo Lodovico, Duke of Lucca, against whom a new revolution broke out in 1848, and the city was occupied by the Piedmontese. On the other hand, Carlo II abdicated in favour of his son Carlo III (1849). After the Piedmontese defeat at Novara, the Austrians placed Carlo III on the throne of Parma, but he was stabbed to death in 1854, and in 1859 his son Robert was dethroned, while the annexation of his state to Piedmont was decreed.

The first known Bishop of Parma is Urbanus, a partisan of the antipope Ursicinus, and deposed by Pope Damasus in 378. Other bishops were: Gratiosus (680); Lantpertus (827); Wihbodus (860-77), who bore important charges from Louis II and his successors; Aicardus in 920 restored the cathedral, which had been destroyed by fire; Sigefredus, a former chancellor of King Hugo, accompanied in 937 Hugo's daughter Berta, the promised bride of Constantine Porphyrogenitus; Hucbertus (961), to whom Ratherius di Verona dedicated his "De contemptu canonum"; Cadalous obtained his see through simony, and became the antipope Honorius II, while remaining Bishop of Parma; his successor, Everardo (1073), was a partisan of the antipope Clement III, in whose interest Everardo even resorted to arms, but was defeated by the Countess Matilda, near Sorbara (1084); he was succeeded by another schismatic, Wido (1085), in whose place was put (1091) St. Bernardodegli Uberti, Abbot of Vallombrosa and a cardinal. St. Bernardo, however, in 1104, was dragged violently from the altar, and driven from his see, to which he was not able to return peacefully until 1106; he resigned the temporal power held by the bishops of this diocese and, having opposed the coronation of Conrad (1127) was again obliged to flee from Parma, and died in 1133; Aicardo, a partisan of Barbarossa, and therefore deposed (1167); Obizzo Fieschi, an uncle of Innocent IV ; Gratian (1224), professor of law at Bologna; Alberto Sanvitale (1243), and his brother Obizzo (1259), nephews of Innocent IV ; Obizzo exerted himself greatly for the reform of morals, favoured the "Milizia di Gesù Cristo", and exposed the sect of the Apostolici, founded by the Parmesan Gherardo Segarelli; Ugolino Rossi (1322) was obliged to flee from Parma, with his father Guglielmo, on account of the latter's political reverses (1334); Gian Antonio da S. Giorgio (1500) a learned cardinal ; Alessandro Farnese (1509), became Pope Paul III , he resigned the See of Parma in favour of his nephew, Cardinal Alessandro; Alessandro Sforza (1560), who distinguished himself at the Council of Trent ; Ferrante Farnese, (1573) active in the cause of ecclesiastical reform; Camillo Marazzani (1711), who governed the diocese during forty-eight years; Adeodato Turchi (1788), a Capuchin who wrote beautiful pastorals and homilies ; Cardinal Francesco Caselli (1804), a former superior of the Servites and a companion of Consalvi during the negotiation of the Concordat with Napoleon ; at the national council of Paris in 1811, he defended the rights of the Holy See.

The diocese, a suffragan of Milan, and later of Ravenna and of Bologna (1582), depends immediately on the Holy See since 1815; it has 306 parishes, 232,913 inhabitants, 9 religious houses of men, 18 of women, 3 educational establishments for male students, 5 for girls, 1 bi-weekly periodical ( Ol Giornale del popolo ) and 2 monthly magazines ( L'Eco; Lede e Civiltà ).

Join the Movement
When you sign up below, you don't just join an email list - you're joining an entire movement for Free world class Catholic education.

Saint of the Day logo
Prayer of the Day logo

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2024 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2024 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.