Nepi and Sutri
United sees of the province of Rome, central Italy, in the Ciminian region
Nepi and Sutri (NEPESIN ET SUTRIN), united sees of the province of Rome, central Italy, in the Ciminian region. Nepi is situated on a hill of tufa, and is surrounded by great walls; its cathedral, which occupies the site of an ancient temple of Jupiter, contains paintings by Titian, Perugino, and Zuccari; the communal palace was begun by Vignola, and the fort was built by Peter Louis Farnese. There still exist at Nepi the ruins of an amphitheatre and of ancient baths, from which several statues in the Vatican museum were taken, among these the one in basalt of King Nectanabis I, with an Egyptian inscription. Nepete and Sutrium, as these cities were called, belonged to the Faliscans, who called the Romans to their assistance when the Etruscans invaded them; the invaders (389, 311, 310), after twice defeating the Romans, went beyond the Ciminian forest to attack the Etruscans in Etruscan territory; wherefore, Livy calls these towns “claustra Etruriae”; in 382, they became Latin colonies. In the Gothic War Nepi was one of the last strongholds of the Goths. The town was sacked by the Lombards in 569, and then fell into decadence. In the eighth century, however, it became the seat of Tuto, a Lombard dux, known for his interference in the papal election of 768. In the struggle between the emperors and the popes, Nepi was imperialist during the reigns of Alexander II, Nicholas II, Gregory VII, and Innocent II; on the other hand in 1160, it fought against the commune of Rome, and in 1244, was besieged by Frederick II, A feudal pos-session, first of the prefects of Vico, and then of the Orsinis, of the Colonnas, and of Caesar Borgia, from 1537 to 1545, it was erected into a duchy in favor of Peter Louis Farnese; and when the latter was transferred to Parma, Nepi returned to immediate dependence on the Holy See. In 1798 the French set fire to the cathedral and to the episcopal palace, in which last edifice valuable archives were lost. The existence of an early Christian cemetery witnesses the great antiquity of the Church of Nepi, which venerates, as its evangelizer, St. Ptolemaeus, who, it is claimed, was a disciple of the Apostles. In 419, Eulalius, competitor of Pope St. Boniface I, was made Bishop of Nepi; Bishop Paulus was sent as visitor to Naples by St. Gregory the Great; Bishop Stephanus, in 868, was one of the presidents and papal legates of the Council of Constantinople against Photius. The sees of Nepi and Sutri were united in 1435. Sutri is placed, like a hanging garden, upon a steep hill on the Cassian Way; the ancient town occupied two hills connected by a bridge, and its walls, built of great tufa rocks, are yet to be seen. In the neighborhood, there are many Etruscan tombs; the ancient amphitheatre, hewn out of the solid rock, is a remarkable work. The cathedral is of the thirteenth century, modernized by frequent alterations. Santa Maria della Grotta is an interesting church. The history of Sutri in antiquity resembles that of Nepi, for Sutri also was taken by the Lombards in 569, but was retaken by the exarch Romanus; Luitprand likewise took the town in 726, but in the following year restored it to “St. Peter”. As the city is on the Cassian Way not far from Rome, it was, as a rule, the last halting-place of the German emperors on their way to the city, and sometimes they received there the papal legate. Two famous synods were held at Sutri, one in 1046, at which Sylvester II was deposed, and resigned the tiara; the other in 1059, was held against Benedict IX. Here also the agreement of 1111 between Paschal II and the emperor Henry V was concluded. In 1120, the antipope Gregory VIII withdrew to Sutri, and was besieged there by Calixtus II; he was finally delivered up to the pope by the Sutrians (1121). After this, the possession of the city was frequently contested by the Guelph counts of Anguillara and the Ghibelline prefects of Vico, especially in 1264. Sutri was contained in the Duchy of Nepi. This town also has an ancient Christian cemetery where the body of St. Romanus was found, who is the patron of the city; the cathedral possesses a statue of him by Bernini. Among the martyrs of Sutri is St. Felix (about 275). The first bishop of known date was Eusebius (465); other bishops were Martinus, or Marinus, who was sent as ambassador to Otho I in 963; Benedictus, who, in 975, became Pope Benedict VII; the famous Bishop Bonitho (Bonizo), historian of the Gregorian epoch, who was driven from his diocese by the anti-papal faction and later, was made Bishop of Piacenza. The diocese was united to Nepi under Bishop Luke de Tartaris (1345); under Pomponius Cesi (1519), who became a cardinal, the cemetery of St. Savinilla was discovered; Michael Ghislieri (1556) became Pope St. Pius V; Joseph Chianti (1701) founded the seminary; Camillus Simeoni (1782) was exiled by the French and became a cardinal. In the territory, of this diocese is the city of Braciano on the lake of the same name (lacus Sabazius); it is believed by some to be the ancient Forum Claudii, the bishop of which was at the council of Pope Melchiades in 303; others identify the Forum Claudii with Oriolo, which is in the Diocese of Viterbo. The united sees of Nepi and Sutri are immediately dependent upon Rome; they have 31 parishes, with 42,000 inhabitants, 13 religious houses of men, and 13 of women, 10 of which maintain schools.