Oapua, Archdiocese of (CAPUANA).—The City of Capua is situated in the province of Caserta, Southern Italy. Of Etruscan foundation, it was formerly known as Volturnum and was capital of Campania Felix. About 424 B.C. it was captured by the Samnites and in 343 B.C. implored Roman help against its conquerors. During the Second Punic War, after Hannibal’s victory at Cannae (216 B.C.), he and his army were voluntarily received by Capua, where the Carthaginians became demoralized by luxurious living. The city was recaptured by the Romans (211 B.C.), its inhabitants were killed or enslaved, and the territory declared common land (ager publicus). Julius Caesar made Capua a Roman colony under the name of Julia Felix. In A.D. 456 the Vandals under Genseric sacked the city. During the Gothic war Capua suffered greatly, and similarly a little later from the Lombards. About 840 it was burned to the ground by the Saracens, after which it was rebuilt, but at some distance from the former site, where, however, another city was built and called Santa Maria in Capua Vetere. In 1058, the Norman, Richard, Prince of Aversa, conquered it; thenceforth its history is linked with that of the Two Sicilies.
Christianity, it is said, was first preached at Capua by St. Priscus, a disciple of St. Peter. In the martyrology mention is made of many Capuan martyrs, and it is probable that, owing to its position and importance, Capua received the Christian doctrine at a very early period. The first bishop of whom there is positive record is Protasius, present at the Roman Council under Pope Melchiades (313); he was succeeded by Protus Vincentius, a Roman deacon and legate of Pope Sylvester I at Nicaea, who took a prominent part in the Arian controversies, and was present at the Council of Sardica (343). At the conciliabulum of Arles (353) he was led astray by Constantius and consented to the deposition of St. Athanasius, an error for which he made amends at Rimini. Bishop Memorius, who held a council to deal with the Schism of Antioch and the heresy of Bonosus, is often mentioned in the letters of St. Augustine and St. Paulinus, and was the father of that ardent Pelagian, Julian of Eclanum. In 443, Priscus, an exile from North Africa and a man of great sanctity, was elected bishop; possibly it is his name that popular tradition carried back to the head of the list of Capuan bishops. Another incumbent of this see was Germanus, whom Pope Hormisdas sent twice to Constantinople to restore unity with the Roman Church. In 541, Bishop Benedictus died and was ever afterwards held in repute of sanctity. His successor, Victor, was a learned exegete. In 968 John XIII took refuge in Capua, and in gratitude raised the see to archiepiscopal rank. In 1087, under Victor III, and in 1118, under Gelasius II, councils were held in Capua; at the latter Henry V and the antipope, Gregory VIII (Burdinus), were excommunicated. Among other bishops, nearly all famous for their learning, are: M. Marino (1252), a disciple of St. Thomas Aquinas; Filippo de Berilli (1506), who suffered for justice’ sake; Fra Nicola Schomberg (1520), a distinguished theologian; Cesare Costa (1573), active as a reformer of the clergy, and a learned canonist; Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1602); and Cardinal Capecelatro, Librarian of the Holy Roman Church and author of many learned works. The suffragan dioceses of Capua are: Caiazzo, Calvi and Teano, Caserta, Isernia and Venafro, Sessa Aurunca. The archdiocese contains a population of 96,800, with 57 parishes, 90 churches and chapels, 255 secular and 18 regular priests, 16 religious houses of women.