Skip to main contentAccessibility feedback

Dear visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find helpful? Please make a gift today. SPECIAL PROMOTION FOR NEW MONTHLY DONATIONS! Thank you and God bless.

Dear visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find helpful? Please make a gift today. SPECIAL PROMOTION FOR NEW MONTHLY DONATIONS! Thank you and God bless.

Diocese of Verona

In Venetia (Northern Italy)

Click to enlarge

Verona, Diocese of (VERONENSIS), in Venetia (Northern Italy). The city, situated on both branches of the River Adige, is the center of extensive agricultural industry. In the days of the Venetian Republic it was already an important fortress, and was surrounded with walls and other defenses by the Veronese Fra Giocondo, and remained so under the Austrian domination and under the Kingdom of Italy. The headquarters of the Third Army Corps are in the Castel S. Pietro, on a hill formerly occupied by the Ostrogothic and Lombard kings and the Visconti.

CHURCHES AND PRINCIPAL BUILDINGS., The duomo (cathedral) is in the Romanesque style of the twelfth century, with additions of the fifteenth. It has an ambo by Sanmicheli; pictures by Liberale da Verona (Adoration of the Magi) and Titian (Assump-tion), and frescoes by Falconetto. Adjoining it is S. Giovanni in Fonte, with a baptismal font decorated with reliefs of the twelfth century; in the cloister are remains of ancient marbles and mosaics. In the palace of the canons is the capitular library, rich in precious manuscripts. S. Maria Antica is surrounded with the tombs (arche) of the Scaligeri, lords of Verona, in the form of Gothic shrines, or tempietti, enclosing their sarcophagi (Can Grande, with equestrian statue; Can Signorio, the finest work, by Bonino da Campione). S. Anastasia, the Dominican church (1261), is Gothic; the sculptures of the great door represent scenes from the life of St. Peter Martyr; inside is the gobbo (hunchback), bearing the holy-water font, also pictures by Niccolo Giolfino, Giunesello da Folgaria (Entombment of Christ), Liberale, and Girolamo dai Libri; frescoes by Antichiero, Vittore Pisano (St. George), and Michele da Verona. S. Bernardino, fifteenth century, is adorned with frescoes by Giolfine, Morone, and others; noteworthy is the Pellegrini chapel, by Sanmicheli (1557). Of S. Zeno Maggiore mention is made as early as the time of St. Gregory the Great; in its present form it dates back to the eleventh century, and was restored in 1870. Its doorway is decorated with Biblical sculptures by Nicolaus and Guilelmus, and the bronze doors themselves are sculptured with scenes from the life of St. Zeno. The ambo is crowned with marble statues (1200). The statue of St. Zeno is of the ninth century, and a Madonna enthroned in the midst of saints is by Mantegna. Adjoining the church was a Benedictine abbey, which was suppressed in 1770. S. Fenno Maggiore, a Gothic church (1313), belonged first to the Benedictines, then to the Franciscans; its facade is adorned with marbles and with the sarcophagus of the physician Aventino Fracastoro (1350); it contains pictures by Caroto, also by Giambattista del Moro, Liberale, and Torbido, frescoes of the fourteenth century; the marble pulpit dates from 1396. Santi Nazzaro e Celso, a very ancient church, restored in the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, contains pictures by Montagna and frescoes by Farinato and Falconetto. S. Maria in Organo was restored by Sanmicheli in 1481, and contains frescoes by Marone; in its choir and sacristy are intarsie (inlaid decorations) by Fra Giovanni (1499). Among the other churches are S. Giorgio in Braide, S. Stefano, and S. Eufemia (thirteenth century).

A very fine public piazza is that known as the Erbe, the ancient forum of the city, surrounded by imposing and historical residences—the Palazzo Maffei, the Mazzanti, once the residence of the Scaligeri, the Casa dei Mercanti (1210), the Casa della Fontana (tenth century)—and an ancient statue known as the Verona. In the middle of the piazza is the tribune where, in the Middle Ages, trials used to be held. The Piazza dei Signori is surrounded by the Palazzo dei Giurisconsulti [Lawyers (1263)] and the Palazzo delta Ragione (1193). The court house and the prefecture were formerly palaces of the Scaligeri; the Council Building, the old Municipio (1476), has a tower (the Civica) 272 feet high. Other buildings are: the Rocca (Keep) of Can Grande II; the Teatro Filarmonico, containing the lapidary museum; the Palazzo Lavezzola Pompeii, built by Sanmicheli in 1530, containing the civic museum, with its prehistoric discoveries, Roman and medieval sculpture, and a special collection of Veronese painters. The communal library contains 100,000 volumes and 3100 manuscripts. Noteworthy among the Roman antiquities are the arena, which is in better preservation than the Colosseum at Rome; the remains of a theatre, the greater axis of which is 502 feet in length; the Borsari Gates (265); the Arch of the Lions. The ancient Christian cemetery has not been found.

HISTORY.—Verona, or Veronia, was a city of the Euganei, who were obliged to cede it to the Cenomani (550 B.C.). With the conquest of the Valley of the Po the Veronese territory became Roman (about 300 B.C.); Verona had the franchise in 59. The city derived importance from being at the intersection of many roads. With the taking of Verona (A.D. 489) the Gothic domination of Italy began; Theodoric built his palace there, and in Germanic legend the name of Verona is linked with his. This city remained in the power of the Goths all through the Gothic War, with the exception of a single day in 541, when an Armenian officer effected an entrance. Dissensions which arose among the Byzantine generals in regard to booty enabled the Goths to regain possession. In 552 Valerian vainly endeavored to gain an entrance, and only the complete overthrow of the Goths brought about its surrender. In 569 it was taken by Alboin, King of the Lombards, in whose kingdom it was, in a sense, the second city in importance. There Alboin himself was killed by his own wife in 572. The dukes of Treviso often resided there. At Verona Adalgisus, son of Desiderius, in 774 made his last desperate resistance to Charlemagne, who had destroyed the Lombard kingdom. Verona was then the ordinary residence of the kings of Italy, the government of the city becoming hereditary in the family of Count Milo, progenitor of the counts of San Bonifacio. From 880 to 951 the two Berengarii resided there. Otto I ceded to Verona the marquisate dependent on the Duchy of Bavaria.

The splendor of the city in those days, dominated by its forty-eight towers, is described in a Latin ode of which we shall speak later on. The increasing wealth of the burgher families eclipsed the power of the counts, and in 1100 we find Verona organized as a commune. The San Bonifacio could at most hold the office of podesth of the city now and then. Verona, at first undecided, was forced by Vicenza to join the Lombard League. This, however, gave rise to the factions of Guelphs and Ghibellines in Verona. When Ezzelino IV was elected podesth, in 1226, he was able to convert the office into a permanent lordship, and in 1257 he caused the slaughter of 11,000 Paduans on the plain of Verona (Campi di Verona). Upon his death the Great Council elected as podesta Mastino della Scala, and he converted the “signoria” into a family possession, though leaving the burghers a share in the government. Failing to be reelected podesth in 1262, he effected a coup d’etat, and was acclaimed capitano del popolo, with the command of the communal troops. It was not without long internal discord that he succeeded in establishing this new office, to which was attached the function of confirming the podesth. In 1272 Mastino was killed by the faction of the nobles. The reign of his son Alberto as capitano (1277-1302) was one incessant war against the counts of San Bonifacio, who were aided by the House of Este. Of his sons, Bartolommeo, Alboino, and Can Grande I, only the last shared the government (1308); he was great as warrior, prince, and patron of the arts; he protected Dante, Petrarch, and Giotto. By war or treaty he brought under his control the cities of Padua (1328), Treviso (1308), and Vicenza.

Alberto was succeeded by Mastino II (1329-51) and Alberto, sons of Alboino. Mastino continued his uncle’s policy, conquering Brescia in 1332 and carrying his power beyond the Po. He purchased Parma (1335) and Lucca (1339). After the King of France, he was the richest prince of his time. But a powerful league was formed against him in 1337-Florence, Venice, the Visconti, the Este, and the Gon-zaga. After a three years war, the Scaliger dominions were reduced to Verona and Vicenza. His son Can Grande II (1351-59) was a cruel, dissolute, and suspicious tyrant; not trusting his own subjects, he surrounded himself with Brandenburg mercenaries. He was killed by his brother Cansignorio (1359-75), who beautified the city with palaces, provided it with aqueducts and bridges, and founded the state treasury. He also killed his other brother, Paolo Alboino. Fratricide seems to have become a family custom, for Antonio (1375-87), Cansignorio’s natural brother, slew his brother Bartolommeo, thereby arousing the indignation of the people, who deserted him when Gian Galeazzo Visconti of Milan made war on him. Having exhausted all his resources, he fled from Verona at midnight (October 19, 1387), thus putting an end to the Scaliger domination, which, however, survived in its monuments. His son Can Francesco in vain attempted to recover Verona (1390). Guglielmo (1404), natural son of Can Grande II, was more fortunate; with the support of the people, he drove out the Milanese, but he died ten days after, and Verona then submitted to Venice (1405). The last representatives of the Scaligeri lived at the imperial court and repeatedly attempted to recover Verona by the aid of popular risings. From 1490 to 1517 the city was in the power of the Emperor Maximilian I. It was occupied by Napoleon in 1797, but on Easter Monday the populace rose and drove out the French. It was then that Napoleon made an end of the Venetian Republic. In 1866, on the anniversary of the defeat of Konigratz, the Austrians evacuated Verona, their strongest fortress in Venetia, which thus became Italian.

For the origins of the Church in Verona the important document is the “Carmen Pipinianum” (ninth century), in which, besides a description of the city and an enumeration of its churches, there is a list of the first eight bishops, from St. Euprepius to St. Zeno, who died in 380. Less important is the famous pianeta (chasuble) of Classe, Ravenna, on which are represented not only the bishops of Verona, but also other saints and bishops of other dioceses venerated at Verona in the ninth century. St. Zeno having been the eighth bishop, the period of St. Euprepius, and therefore of the erection of the see, must be placed not before the peace given to the Church under Gallienus (260), but rather under the first period of the reign of Diocletian, when the Church enjoyed peace. In the same “Carmen” mention is made of Sts. Firmus and Rusticus, martyred at Verona, probably under Maximian. The list of the earliest bishops is as follows: Euprepius, Dimidrianus (Demetrianus), Simplicius, Proculus, Saturninus, Lucilius, present at the Council of Sardica in 343 (called Lucillus by St. Athanasius and Lucius in the signatures of the bishops at Sardica), Gricinus, Zeno. This St. Zeno is called a martyr in the “Carmen” and is placed in the time of Gallienus. At any rate the existence of a distinguished St. Zeno, Bishop of Verona, a contemporary of St. Ambrose, and author of a series of religious discourses, is historically attested, and as, on the other hand, the ancient documents know but one bishop of that name, it must be concluded that, as early as the ninth century, the legend had corrupted chronology. For the rest, we know from the sermons of St. Zeno how deeply paganism was still rooted in Verona in his time, particularly in the country districts. His successor was Syagrius. Other bishops were: St. Petronius (c. 410); Gaudentius (465); St. Valens (522-31); Solatius and Junior, who joined the schism of the Three Chapters; Hanno (about 758); Ratoldus, who imposed community life on the canons (806) and reorganized the education of the clergy. Among the masters of his school the deacon Pacificus was eminent for his knowledge of Greek and Hebrew. Nottingus (840) was the first to denounce the heretic Godescalcus. Adelardus (876) was excommunicated for invading the monastery of Nonnantula. Ratherius (930), a Benedictine and a distinguished author, was thrice driven from his see by usurpers, among whom was the notorious Manasses of Arles. He, too, fostered learning in the cathedral school. Joannes (1027) was distinguished for sanctity and learning. Bruno (1073), who wrote some interpretations of Scripture, was killed by one of his chaplains.

In the time of Bishop Ognibene (1157), a distinguished canonist, Pope Lucius III died at Verona, in 1183, after meeting Barbarossa and holding a synod there. There, too, was held the conclave which elected Urban III, who spent nearly all of his brief pontificate at Verona. Bishops Jacopo da Breganze (1225) and Gerardo Cossadocca (1254) were exiled by the tyrant Ezzelino. Manfredo Roberti (1259) suffered insult and imprisonment at the hands of the Ghibellines. Bonincontro (1295) died in the odor of sanctity. Bartolommeo della Scala (1336), a Benedictine, was calumniated to his nephew Mastino, Lord of Verona, who slew him with his own hand, and among the penalties for this crime inflicted by Benedict XII was the revocation of the privilege of nominating bishops. Pietro della Scala reformed the lives of the clergy and vainly endeavored to bring the canons under his own jurisdiction instead of that of the Patriarch of Aquileia. When the Visconti obtained possession of Verona, Pietro was banished. Francesco Condulmer (1439) founded the college of acolytes to add to the beauty of public worship and to form a learned and pious clergy; the school still exists. This institution was rendered necessary because, with the establishment of the University of Verona, the cathedral school had been suppressed, and the young clerics who attended the university were at that time dispensed from officiating in church functions: the acolytes of the new college were obliged both to study and to attend ecclesiastical functions. Ermolao Barbaro also did much for the reform of the diocese. Cardinal Giovanni Michele (1471) was a munificent restorer of the cathedral and the episcopal palace, as also was Cardinal Marco Cornaro (1502). For Gian Matteo Giberti (1524) and Pietro and Luigi Lippomano (1544, 1548) see articles under their respective names. Agostino Valier (1565) was a cardinal. Sebastiano Pisani (1650) was a zealous pastor. Giovanni Bragadino (1733) was a mirror of all the virtues; in his episcopate the Patriarchate of Aquileia was suppressed, and Benedict XIV brought the chapter under the bishop’s jurisdiction, at the same time laying down wise rules for the government of the diocese. Giovanni Andrea Avogadro (1790) abdicated the see to return to the Society of Jesus. Benedetto de Riccabona (1854), a Tyrolese, was a model pastor. The present bishop is Bartolommeo Cardinal Bacilieri (1900). Councils of Verona worthy of note are those of 1184, at which the pope presided, and 1276, against the Patarenes who were somewhat numerous in the Veronese territory, even among the clergy.

At Verona is the motherhouse of the Sons of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and their college for the Central African missions. The Congregation of the Stimmatini was also founded at Verona. Natives of this city were the architects Fra Giocondo, a Dominican, and Sanmichele; the painter Paolo Caliari (known also as Paolo Veronese), Falconetto, Liberali, Francesco and Girolamo dai Libri, Brusasorci, and others; among men of learning, Guarino, Lipomanno, Maffei, Bianchini, and others. The diocese was suffragan of Aquileia, then of Udine; since 1818 it has been suffragan of Venice. It has 262 parishes with 400,500 faithful; 786 secular priests; 132 regular priests; 17 houses of male religious; 45 of Sisters; 4 colleges for boys; 7 for girls. The Catholic Press consists of “Verona Fedele” (a daily paper), three weeklies, and the monthly “La Nigrizia”.


Did you like this content? Please help keep us ad-free
Enjoying this content?  Please support our mission!