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Diocese of Novara
A diocese and the capital of the province of Novara, Piedmont, Italy, noted for the manufacture of wool, cotton, and silk textiles, and machinery. The cathedral originally Romanesque has been modified. The high altar is the work of Thorwaldsen, Marchesi, and Finelli; the baldachin is by Tenarini, and there are paintings by Bordine, Crespi, and other artists, besides some ancient mosaics; the baptistery dates from the fifth century. The cathedral archives contain codices and other documents from the eighth century. The church of St. Gaudentius, a work of Pellegrino Pellegrini, was begun in 1553 to replace the ancient basilica built by St. Gaudentius and torn down to make room for the fortifications; Renaissance in style, although the cupola does not harmonize, it contains valuable paintings and frescoes by Lombard, Caccia, Procaccini, Crespi, Gilardini, Sogni, Saletta, and Fiamminghino. The city has an institute of arts and trades, a museum of antiquities, and several private galleries, among them the Leonardi. Novara was the birthplace of the ancient jurist, C. Albucius Silo, Peter Lombard, the philologist Cattaneo, the painter Caccia, and the Jesuit Tornielli. Novara, formerly Novaria, was inhabited by Ligurians and Salassians. Under the Carolingians, it was the seat of a count, but the power of the counts passed gradually to the bishops, confirmed by Otho I (969), in the person of Bishop Aupaldus. From the time of Henry III, Novara was a commune, governed by two consuls and by a consul, called Maggiore. Frequently at war with Vercelli and Milan, it joined Frederick Barbarossa against the latter city, but in 1168 was compelled to join the Lombard League. After the peace of Constance it contended with the Counts of Biandrate, Vercelli, and its own bishops, unwilling to be deprived of their sovereign rights in which they had been again confirmed by Frederick Barbarossa. Upon the expulsion of the bishop in 1210, Innocent III threatened to suppress the diocese. Later, when Martin della Torre became lord of Milan, Novara gave its allegiance to him, then to the Visconti, from which time it formed part of the Duchy of Milan, with rare intervals; in 1536-38 it belonged to Monferrato, 1556-1602 to the Farnese of Parma, 1734 to the Savoy. Because of its position, Novara has been the scene of important battles: in April, 1500, Louis the Moor, Duke of Milan, intended to besiege here Trivulzi, appointed governor by the King of France, but abandoned by his Swiss troops, he was taken prisoner. On 6 June, 1513, the Swiss in the pay of the King of Spain, drove out the French; on 10 April, 1812, the troops that had rebelled against King Charles Felix were dispersed there; on 23 March, 1849, Radetzky inflicted upon the Piedmontese a defeat that compelled King Charles Albert to abdicate.
In the fourth century, Novara was in the Diocese of Vercelli; its first bishop, St. Gaudentius, was consecrated by St. Simplicianus, Bishop of Milan (397-400). St. Lawrence is said to have introduced the Faith into Novara. St. Julius and St. Julian assisted Gaudentius in the conversion of the diocese. The list of bishops has been preserved on two ivory diptychs, one in the cathedral dates from 1168; the other in the church of St. Gaudentius from 1343. Among the bishops were St. Agabius (417); St. Victor (489); St. Honoratus (c. 500); St. Leo (c. 700), biographer of St. Gaudentius; Adalgisus (c. 840), called Gemma Sacerdotum; Albertus, killed by the Counts of Biandrate in 1081; Litifredus (1122) and Papiniano della Rovere (1296); Guglielmo Amidano (1343), a learned theologian and former general of the Augustinians; Pietro Filargo (1388), later the Antipope Alexander V; Bartolomeo Visconti (1429), deposed by Eugene IV, who suspected him of treachery, but finally reinstated; Cardinal Gian Angelo Arcimboldi (1525); Gian Antonio Serbelloni (1560), founder of the seminary; Francisco Rossi (1579), founder of a second seminary; Carlo Bescapé (1593), a Barnabite historian of the diocese; Benedetto Odescalchi (1650), later Innocent XI. Suffragan of Vercelli, it has 372 parishes; 408,000 inhabitants; 11 religious houses of men and 14 of women; 2 schools for boys, and 6 for girls; and 3 Catholic weekly publications.
SAVIO, Gli antichi vescovi d'Italia, I, Piemonte; CAPPELLETTI, Le Chiese d'Italia, XIV; MORBIO, Storia di Norara (Milan, 1833).
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