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Dioceses of Valva and Sulmona
(VALVEN. ET SULMONEN.)
Located in Italy; united aeque principaliter. Valva, a medieval castle belonging to the Bishop of Sulmona, Baron of Valva, is situated near the ancient Corfinium, chief town of the Peligni, A Samnite tribe. In the Social War it was the capital of the Italici, who called it Italia, a name found on some coins. Of the ancient city there remains the Church of S. Pelino, which recalls the race of the Peligni rather than a saint. The ruins contained a great number of inscriptions. Corfinium, like Valva, had apparently its own bishop; S. Pelino was the cathedral. In the vicinity of Valva is the sanctuary of S. Michele, near which is a large natural grotto. Sulmona, formerly Sulmo, is situated in a fertile plain, watered by the Gizzio, a tributary of the Pescara, at the base of the Maiella and Monte Morrone. The inhabitants are engaged in agriculture, the manufacture of liquors, confetti, and musical strings, and tanning. Among the churches are S. Maria della Tomba, the Annuziata, S. Francesco. Near the city is the monastery of the Spirito Santo, erected by Celestine V for his monks; it is noted for its architecture. The town hall dates from the fifteenth century. Sulmona was a Pelignian city, and is first mentioned in the wars of Hannibal, during which is remained faithful to the Romans. In the Social War it was destroyed by Sulla. Ovid, who celebrates the salubrity of its climate, was born there. There are ruins of temples and ancient buildings in the vicinity. In the Lombard period the city was subject to the Duchy of Spoleto; later it belonged to the counts of the Marsi. When the Normans conquered the Abruzzi, Sulmona increased in importance. Frederick II made it the capital of the "Gran Giustizierato" of the Abruzzi. In 1451 Alfonso of Aragon defeated there Count Ruggierone, an ally of Rene of Anjou; the city was regained by Piccinino, who was later defeated and slain by Ferdinand I.
Legend associates the evangelizing of the district with the name of St. Britius, Bishop of Spoleto, in the second century. The first known Bishop of Sulmona is Palladius (499); in 503 a Fortunatus Valvensis is mentioned. St Pamphilus, Bishop of Valva, renowned for his sanctity and miracles, died about 706; as he was buried in the cathedral of Sulmona, the sees had possibly been united then. Four or five other bishops of Valva are known, but none of Sulmona until 1054, when Leo IX named as Bishop of Valva, the Benedictine Domenico, and determined the limits of the Dioceses of S. Pelino (Valva) and S. Pamphilus (Sulmona), which were to have only one bishop, elected by the two chapters. Under Bishop Giacomo di Penne, a monk of Casa Nova (1252), it was arranged that the two chapters should unite in making the election, as frequent disputes had arisen when they acted separately. Other bishops were: Bartolomeo of Tocco (1402), highly esteemed for his learning by Innocent VII, who gave him his own mitre; Donato Bottini (1448), an Augustinian, who enriched the cathedral; Pompeo Zambeccari (1547), nuncio in Poland, who restored the episcopal residence; Francesco Bonapaduli (1638), who founded the seminary; Pietro Antonio Corsignani (17380, the historian of the Abruzzi. During the dispute between the Holy See and the Kingdom of Naples the see remained vacant from 1800 till 1818. The See of Sulmona is immediately subject to the Holy See. It contains; 58 parishes; 150,000 inhabitants, 200 secular, and 48 regular, priests; 3 houses of monks; 3 convents of nuns; 2 educational institutes for boys, and 1 for girls.
CAPPELLETTI, Le chiese d'Italia, XXI; DI PIETRO, Memorie storiche della citta di Sulmona (Naples, 1804); CORSIGNNI, Regia marsicana (Naples, 1738).