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Archdiocese of Sorrento
Archdiocese in the Province of Naples, with one suffragan, Castellamare. The city is situated on the southern arm of the Gulf of Naples and is protected towards the south by Mount Sant' Angelo, which makes Sorrento a popular summer resort. The peninsula is bounded on the one side by the Gulf of Naples, on the other side by the Gulf of Amalfi, and was in Roman antiquity dotted with villas. Sorrento is situated at a considerable altitude above the sea, as it were on a peak. The churches are more ornate than beautiful. There are also ruins of certain temples: of Ceres, described by Vitruvius (a few columns and mosaics); of Venus, near the Marina grande; of Sirena; and of Minerva, the latter said to have been built by Ulysses, the reputed founder of the city, which in ancient times had its own coins and was autonomous. In 312 B.C. it became the ally of Rome; but Hannibal captured it in the Second Punic War. Augustus sent a colony thither. In A.D. 645 Radolfo, Duke of Beneventum, besieged it in vain; it remained Byzantine, and as late as the eighth century had probably a dux (chief magistrate) of its own, and was almost completely independent of Constantinople. In 890 the Sorrentines won a naval victory over the inhabitants of Amalfi. In 1035 it was conquered by Guaimario IV, Duke of Salerno, who made his brother Guido Duke of Sorrento; but forty years afterwards it fell with Salerno under Norman domination. Sorrento is the birthplace of Torquato Tasso. The Gospel was preached at Sorrento probably as early as the first century; the martyrs Quartus, Quartillus, and their companions are venerated there. Among the known bishops the first is St. Renatus, a native of Angers, at the beginning of the fifth century. His successor was St. Valerius, who died in 453; Rosarius was present at Rome in 499. The Sorrentines venerate other bishops of the see: St. Athanasius, St. Johannes (about 594), St. Amandus (d. 617), St. Baculus (seventy century), St. Hyacinthus (679). In the tenth century it became a metropolitan see, the first archbishop being Leo Parus. Among its bishops were Francesco Remolino (1501), who was made a prisoner by the Turks and ransomed with the treasures of the church (in part his own donations), and Filippo Strozzi (1525), said to have been three times rescued from prison in the sack of Rome in 1527. In 1558 the Turks under Pialy Pasha effected a landing at Salerno, and plundered and burned the city, on which occasion the archives perished. The new bishop, Giulio Pavesi, sought to repair the damages. Diego Pietra (1680) founded the seminary, afterwards enlarged by Filippo Anastasi (1699); the latter defended the immunities of the Church and was forcibly exiled to Terracina. In 1861 Francesco Apuzzo was, by order of the new Government, exiled to France. In 1818 the Dioceses of Massa Lubrense, Vico Equense, a suffragan of Amalfi, and Capri were united with Sorrento. Massa is an ancient city, the fame of whose celebrated temple (delubrum) of Juno Argiva is still preserved in the title of the church known as the Madonna della Lobra. It became an episcopal see probably when Sorrento was made metropolitan; the first known bishop was Pietro Orsi, in 1289 delivered from prison in Sicily. Vico Equense, the ancient AEqua, destroyed in the Social War, probably had a bishop at the same time as Massa Lubrense; the first known was Bartolomeo (1294). Paolo Regi (1582), a renowned legist, compiled the lives of the Neapolitan saints, and was a prolific writer. The last bishop was Michele Natali (1797), condemned to death in 1799 for having taken part in the revolution of that year.
The Island of Capri was even in antiquity celebrated for its climate. Augustus acquired it from the Neapolitans, and Tiberius built there his famous villa. Commodus banished thither his wife Crispina. Justinian gave the island to the Benedictines. In 868 it was captured by the inhabitants of Amalfi; from 1806-1808 it was in possession of the English. The Archbishop of Amalfi named its first bishop (987), a certain Johannes. Sorrento has thirty-six parishes, 267 secular and 34 regular clergy, and 59,600 souls; 8 monasteries for men and 21 convents for women, 3 institutes for boys and 10 for girls.
CAPPELLETTI, Le chiese d'Italia, XX; ANASTASIO, Lucubrationes in Sorrentinorum ecclesiasticas civilesque antiquitates (Rome, 1731); CAPASSO, Topografia storico-archeologica della penisola sorrentina (Naples, 1846); FASULO, La penisola sorrentina (Naples, 1900).