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Diocese of Belluno-Feltre

Diocese in Venetia, Italy

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Belluno-Feltre, Diocese of.—Belluno, which was anciently called Bellunum, the metropolis of the province of that name in Venetia, Italy, is situated on a hill between the torrent of Ardo and the River Piave, and has a population of 10,000. At the end of the tenth century Belluno was affected by the political disturbances then agitating the Venetian provinces. Bishop Joannes II (959) obtained from Emperor Otto I for himself and his successors the title of count and temporal sovereignty over this city and the surrounding territory. He also fortified the city. In the course of time there were many disputes over the civil mastery of Belluno, but in 1420 the inhabitants of their own accord acknowledged the authority of Venice. Belluno is the seat of a bishopric suffragan to the Patriarchate of Venice, and is united with the See of Feltre. Christianity is said to have been first preached there by St. Hermagoras, a disciple of St. Mark and first Bishop of Aquileia, and next by Prosdocimus, first Bishop of Padua. Ughelli places the first bishop, Theodorus, in the reign of Emperor Commodus and the second, St. Salvator, as succeeding under Pertinax. About 300 another Theodorus is thought to have brought from Egypt the remains of St. Giovata, patron of the city. The first bishop known to history is a certain Laurentius, who, in 587, attended the schismatic assembly convened by Severus, Patriarch of Aquileia, in connection with the dispute of the Three Chapters. The twelfth century was a stormy period for Belluno, in both civil and ecclesiastical respects. In 1197 Bishop Gerardo de Taccoli was murdered by the inhabitants of Treviso, after which Innocent III united the Diocese of Belluno with that of Feltre.

Feltre, the ancient Feltria, is situated in the province of Belluno in Venetia, on the River Colmeda, and contains 13,000 inhabitants. From the year 80 B.C. it enjoyed the rights of Roman citizenship. It was besieged during the invasion of Attila. Emperor Henry III created the Bishops of Feltre counts of the city and vicinity, but their authority was almost constantly assailed by the Counts of Camino, by Ezzelino da Romano, the Scaligeri, the Carrara, and finally by the Visconti themselves. At last, in 1404, the city fell into the power of the Venetians. Feltre also claims to have received the Gospel from St. Prosdocimus. St. Victor, a martyr, is said to have lived there about A.D. 170. The first Bishop of Feltre whose date can be fixed is Fonteius, who in 579 took part in a council in Aquileia and in 591 dedicated a book to Emperor Mauritius. Drudo of Camino (1174) was the first bishop of the united sees of Belluno and Feltre, the latter being the residence of the bishop. The twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries were filled with civil strife.

In 1462, at the request of the Venetian Republic, the two dioceses were separated. The first Bishop of Belluno was Ludovico Donato. Bishops Pietro Barozzi, Mose Buffarello, and Bernardo Rossi (1499) rebuilt the cathedral. One of the most illustrious bishops was Luigi Lollin (1595) who did much to promote the love of learning among the clergy and left large bequests to perpetually provide for a number of priests at the University of Padua. Giulio Berlendis (1655) completed the work of enforcing the Tridentine reforms, and Gianfrancesco Bembo, a member of the Somaschi (1695), was very zealous in the cause of popular education. In 1818 the diocese was reunited with that of Feltre. Among the Bishops of Feltre after the separation mention should be made of Angelo Faseolo (1464), who was appointed on many legations in connection with the Crusade against the Turks; Lorenzo Campeggio (1512), famous as the nuncio to England during the time of Henry VIII, later made cardinal and transferred (1520) to Bologna. He was succeeded by his nephew Tommaso Campeggio, who was nuncio several times. Agostino Gradenigo (1610) restored the cathedral; Zerbino Lugo (1640) built the seminary; Giovanni Bortoli (1748) was a distinguished professor of canon law at Padua.

The most remarkable sacred edifices in Belluno are, in addition to the cathedral, the church of San Pietro, and that of San Stephano, the latter in Gothic style; all three contain paintings by the most distinguished Venetian artists. In Feltre there are the eathedral, dedicated to St, Laurence, the oratory of San Giacomo, the churches of San Giorgio in Villabruna, and San Rocco; in the last named the painting over the high altar is the work of Palma it Vecchio. Outside the city, on the slopes of Mount Iblisnea is the church of SS. Vittore e Corona, erected by the Crusaders of Feltre after the First Crusade.

The Diocese of Belluno contains 72 parishes, 280 churches, chapels, and oratories, 137 secular priests, 22 regulars, 22 seminarists, 5 lay brothers, 29 sisters, and a population of 127,500. Feltre has 17 parishes, 100 churches, chapels, and oratories, 48 secular priests, 25 regulars, 56 seminarists, 2 schools for boys and 2 for girls, and a population of 48,000.


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