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Utica

A titular see in Africa Proconsularis

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Utica, a titular see in Africa Proconsularis. The city was founded by Tyrian colonists at the mouth of the Bagradas River in the vicinity of rich mines, 1110 B.C. or 287 years before Carthage. It had two harbors, and during the Punic wars was the ally rather than the vassal of Carthage. In 212 B.C., it was seized and plundered by the Roman, Ottacilius. After the fall of Carthage, 146 B.C., Utica became the capital of the Roman province of Africa, and was a civitas libera (free city), perhaps even immunis (exempt from taxes). It was here that Cato the Younger, called Cato of Utica, killed himself after his defeat at Thapsus, 46 B.C. Augustus granted the right of citizenship to the inhabitants of Utica, which under Adrian became a colony, under the name of Colonia Julia Aelia Hadriana Augusta Utica, and under Septimius Severus and Caracalla, a colonia juris italici. When Carthage again became the capital of Roman Africa, Utica passed to the second rank. On August 24, 258 A.D., more than 153 martyrs, according to Saint Augustine, and according to Prudentius about 300, suffered for the Faith at Utica; they are known under the name of Massa candida, and later a basilica was built there in their honor (Monceaux, “Histoire litteraire de l’Afrique Chretienne”, II, 141-147). A number of bishops are mentioned by historians (Morcelli, “Africa Christiana”, I, 362, II, 150; Gams, “Series Episeoporum”, I, 470; Toulotte, “Geographie de l’Afrique Chretienne, Proconsulaire”, 318-323). The oldest-known bishop, Aurelius, was present at the Council of Carthage, 256; the last, Potentinus, in 684, at the Council of Toledo in Spain, where he had taken refuge after the Arab invasion. This invasion and the choking up of its harbors with sand washed in by the Bagradas, hastened the down-fall of Utica. Its ruins are at Bou-Chateur, not far from Porto-Farina, with which it is sometimes wrongly confounded. One may see here large reservoirs, an amphitheatre, and some remains of a wall.

S. VAILHE


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