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Diocese of Rieti
Diocese in Central Italy, immediately subject to the Holy See. The city is situated in the valley of the River Velino, which, on account of the calcareous deposits that accumulate in it, grows shallower and imperils the city, so that even in ancient days it was necessary to construct canals and outlets, like that of Marius Curius Dentatus (272 B.C.) which, repaired and enlarged by Clement VIII, has produced the magnificent waterfall of the Velino, near Terni. The city, which was founded by the Pelasgians, was the chief town of the Sabines, and became later a Roman municipium and prefecture. After the Longobard invasion it was the seat of a "gastaldo", dependent on the Duchy of Spoleto. It was presented to the Holy See by Otto I in 962; in 1143, after a long siege, it was destroyed by King Roger of Naples. It was besieged again in 1210 by Otto of Brunswick when forcing his way into the Kingdom of Naples. In the thirteenth century the popes took refuge there on several occasions, and in 1288 it witnessed the coronation of Charles II of Naples; later an Apostolic delegate resided at Rieti. In 1860, by the disloyalty of a delegate, it was occupied by the Italian troops without resistance. Rieti was the birthplace of Blessed Colomba (1501); in the sixth century it contained an Abbey of St. Stephen; the body of St. Baldovino, Cistercian, founder of the monastery of Sts. Matthew and Pastor (twelfth century) is venerated in the cathedral. Near Rieti is Greccio, where St. Francis set up the first Christmas crib. The cathedral is in Lombard style, with a crypt dating from the fourth or fifth century. It should be remarked that in medieval documents there is frequent confusion between Reatinus (Rieti), Aretinus (Arezzo), and Teatinus (Chieti). The first known Bishop of Rieti is Ursus (499); St. Gregory mentions Probus and Albinus (sixth century). The names of many bishops in the Longobard period are known. Later we meet with Dodonus (1137), who repaired the damage done by King Roger; Benedict, who in 1184 officiated at the marriage of Queen Constance of Naples and Henry VI; Rainaldo, a Franciscan (1249), restorer of discipline, which work was continued by Tommaso (1252); Pietro Guerra (1278), who had Andrea Pisano erect the episcopal palace with materials taken from the ancient amphitheatre of Vespasian; Lodovico Teodonari (1380), murdered while engaged in Divine service, on account of his severity, which deed was cruelly punished by Boniface IX; Angelo Capranica (1450), later a cardinal; Cardinal Pompeo Colonna (1508), who for rebellion against Julius II and Clement VII was twice deprived of his cardinalitial dignity; Scipione Colonna (1520), his nephew, took part in the revolt against Clement VII in 1528, and was killed in an encounter with Amico of Ascoli, Abbot of Farfa; Marianus Victorius (1572, for a few days), a distinguished writer and petrologist; Giorgio Bolognetti (1639), restored the episcopal palace and was distinguished for his charity; Gabrielle Ferretti (1827), later a cardinal, a man of great charity. At present the diocese contains 60 parishes, 142,100 inhabitants, 250 secular priests, 7 religious houses with 63 priests, 15 houses of nuns; 2 educational establishments for boys, and 4 for girls.
CAPPELLETTI, Le chiese d'Italia, V; DE SANCTIS, Notizie stor iche di Rieti (Rieti, 1887); MARONI, Commentarii de Ecclesia Reatina (Rome, 1753).