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In Spain, comprises the civil Provinces of Valencia, Alicante, and Castellon

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Valencia, Archdiocese of (VALENTINA), in Spain, comprises the civil Provinces of Valencia, Alicante, and Castellon. The city of Valencia is in the region known in ancient days as Edetania, and has 173,000 inhabitants. Florus says that Junius Brutus, the conqueror of Viriathus, transferred thither (140 s. c.) the soldiers who had fought under the latter. Later it was a Roman military colony. In punishment for its adherence to Sertorius it was destroyed by Pompey, but was later rebuilt, and Pomponius Mela says that it was one of the principal cities of Hispania Tarraconensis.

Nothing positive is known about the introduction of Christianity into Valencia, but at the beginning of the fourth century when Dacianus brought the martyrs St. Valerius, Bishop of Saragossa, and his deacon, St. Vincent of Huesca, to Valencia, the Christians seem to have been numerous. St. Vincent suffered martyrdom at Valencia; the faithful obtained possession of his remains, built a temple over the spot on which he died, and there invoked his intercession. It is said that at the time of the Moorish invasion the people of Valencia placed the saint’s body in a boat and that the boat landed on the cape which is now called San Vincente. The King of Portugal, Alfonso Enriquez, found the body and transferred it to Lisbon. The first historically known Bishop of Valencia is Justinianus (531-46), mentioned by St. Isidore in his “Viri illustres”. Justinianus wrote “Responsiones”, a series of replies to a certain Rusticus. Bishops of Valencia assisted at the various councils of Toledo. Witisclus, present at the fourteenth Council of Toledo, was the last bishop before the Mohammedan invasion. Abdelazid, son of Muzza, took the city and, breaking the terms of surrender, pillaged it; he turned the churches into mosques, leaving only one to the Christians. This was without doubt the present Church of San Bartolome or that of San Vincente de la Roqueta.

Valencia was in the power of the Moors for more than five centuries. The Cid (Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar) reconquered it for the first time on June 15, 1094, turned nine mosques into churches, and installed as bishop the French monk Jerome. On the death of the Cid (July, 1099), his wife, Dona Ximena. retained power for two years, when Valencia was besieged by the Almoravids; although the Emperor Alfonso drove them from the city, he was not strong enough to hold it. The Christians set fire to it, abandoned it, and the Almoravid Masdali took possession of it on May 5, 1109. Jaime the Conqueror, with an army composed of French, English, Germans, and Italians, laid siege to Valencia in 1238, and on September 28 of that year forced a surrender. 50,000 Moors left the city and on October 9 the king, followed by his retinue and army, took possession. The principal mosque was purified, Mass was celebrated, and the “Te Deum” sung. The see was reestablished, ten parishes being formed in the city; the Knights Templar and Hospitallers who had helped in the conquest, also Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians, Mercederians, and Cistercians, opened houses. The Church of San Vincente outside the walls was rebuilt and beside it a hospital.

The consecration of the Dominican Berenguer de Castellbisbal, bishop-elect of the See of Valencia after the reconquest, was prevented because of the dispute between the Archbishops of Toledo and Tarragona for jurisdiction over the new see. Gregory IX decided in favor of Tarragona, and, as Berenguer had been appointed Bishop of Gerona in the meantime, Ferrer de San Martin, provost of Tarragona (1239-43), was appointed Bishop of Valencia. He was succeeded by the Aragonese Arnau de Peralta (1243-48) who drove the Bishop of Segovia, Pedro Garces, from his see. The third Bishop of Valencia, the Dominican Andres Albalat (1248-76), founder of the Carthusian monastery, began the construction of the cathedral; this was continued and finished by his successors: Gasperto de Botonach, Abbot of San Felin (1276-88); the Aragonese Dominican, Raimundo de Pont (1288-1312); the Catalonian Raimundo Gaston (1312-48); Hugo de Fenolet, formerly Bishop of Vich (1348-56); and Vidal de Blanes (1356-69). Jaime de Aragon, Bishop of Tortosa and first cousin of Pedro succeeded to the see in 1369. Hitherto the chapter had elected the bishops, but owing to the dissensions at the death of Bishop Blanes, Urban IV reserved the right to name the bishops until 1523, when the right of presentation was granted to the Spanish kings. At the death of Jaime (1396), the antipope Benedict XIII kept the see vacant for more than two years, and then appointed Hugo de Lupia, Bishop of Tortosa (1398-1427). He was succeeded by Alfonso de Borja (Calixtus III). The latter appointed Rodrigo de Borja (Alexander VI) to the See of Valencia; Rodrigo obtained from Innocent VIII the rank of metropolitan for his see (1492) and, after he was raised to the papacy, confirmed this decree. He also raised the studium generale of Valencia to the rank of a university, conferring upon it all the privileges possessed by other universities. Caesar Borgia bore the title of Archbishop of Valencia, and was succeeded by Juan de Borja y Llansol, Pedro Luis de Borja, and Alfonso de Aragon, illegitimate son of Ferdinand the Catholic and also Archbishop of Saragossa (1512-20).

The episcopate of the Augustinian St. Thomas of Villanova (1544-55), founder of the Colegio de la Presentacien de Ntra. Senora, called also de Santo Tomas, was one of the most notable in the history of Valencia. St. Thomas was beatified (1619) by Paul and canonized (1658) by Alexander VII. His successors, Francisco de Navarra and Martin de Ayala, who attended the Council of Trent, were also men of distinction. Perhaps the most noted of all the archbishops of Valencia was the Patriarch Juan de Ribera (1569-1611). He decided to expel the Moors from the city, after having exhausted all possible means to bring them to submission. He founded the Colegio de Corpus Christi and furthered the work of monastic reform, especially among the Capuchins, whom he had brought to Valencia. Many holy men shed lustre upon this era, including St. Louis Bertram, the Franciscan Nicolas Factor, the Carmelite Francisco de Nino Jesus, and the Minim Gaspar Bono. The archbishop and inquisitor general, Juan Tomas Rocaberti, publicly punished the Governor of Valencia for interfering in ecclesiastical jurisdiction: Andres Mayoral (1738-69) improved the system of charities and public instruction, founded the Colegio de las Escuelas Pias, and the Casa de Ensefianza for girls. He collected a library of 12,000 volumes; this was burnt in the war of independence. The See of Valencia has had two cardinals, Barrio y Fernandez and Monescillo y Sancho.

The cathedral in the early days of the reconquest was called Iglesia Mayor, then Seo (Sedes), and at the present time, in virtue of the papal concession of October 16, 1866, it is called the Basilica metro politana. It is situated in the center of the ancient Roman city where some believe the temple of Diana stood. In Gothic times it seems to have been dedicated to the most Holy Savior; the Cid dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin; Jaime the Conqueror did likewise, leaving in the main chapel the image of the Blessed Virgin which he carried with him and which is believed to be the one which is now preserved in the sacristy. The Moorish mosque, which had been converted into a Christian church by the conqueror, appeared unworthy of the title of the cathedral of Valencia, and in 1262 Bishop Andres de Albalat laid the cornerstone of the new Gothic building, with three naves; these reach only to the choir of the present building. Bishop Vidal de Blanes built the magnificent chapter hall, and Jaime de Aragon added the tower, called “Miguelete” because it was blessed on St. Michael’s day (1418), which is about 166 feet high and finished at the top with a belfry. In the fifteenth century the dome was added and the naves extended back of the choir, uniting the building to the tower and forming a main entrance. Archbishop Luis Alfonso de los Cameros began the building of the main chapel in 1674; the walls were decorated with marbles and bronzes in the over-ornate style of that decadent period. At the beginning of the eighteenth century the German Conrad Rudolphus built the facade of the main entrance. The other two doors lead into the transept; one, that of the Apostles in pure pointed Gothic, dates from the fourteenth century, the other is that of the Palau. The additions made to the back of the cathedral detract from its height. The eighteenth-century restoration rounded the pointed arches, covered the Gothic columns with Corinthian pillars, and redecorated the walls. The dome has no lantern, its plain ceiling being pierced by two large side windows. There are four chapels on either side, besides that at the end and those that open into the choir, the transept, and the presbyterium. It contains many paintings by eminent artists. A magnificent silver reredos, which was behind the altar, was carried away in the war of 1808, and converted into coin to meet the expenses of the campaign. Behind the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament is a very beautiful little Renaissance chapel built by Calixtus III. Beside the cathedral is the chapel dedicated to the “Virgen de los desamparados”.

In 1409 a hospital was founded and placed under the patronage of Santa Maria de los Inocentes; to this was attached a confraternity devoted to recovering the bodies of the un-friended dead in the city and within a radius of three miles around it. At the end of the fifteenth century this confraternity separated from the hospital, and continued its work under the name of “Cofradfa para el amparo de los desamparados”. Philip IV and the Duke de Arcos suggested the building of the new chapel, and in 1647 the Viceroy Conde de Orpesa, who had been preserved from the bubonic plague, insisted on carrying out their project. The Blessed Virgin under the title of “Virgen de los desamparados” was proclaimed patroness of the city, and Archbishop Pedro de Urbina, on June 31, 1652, laid the cornerstone of the new chapel of this name. The archiepiscopal palace, a grain market in the time of the Moors, is simple in design, with an inside cloister and a handsome chapel. In 1357 the arch which connects it with the cathedral was built. In the council chamber are preserved the portraits of all the prelates of Valencia.

Among the parish churches those deserving special mention are: Sts. John (Baptist and Evangelist), rebuilt in 1368, whose dome, decorated by Palonino, contains some of the best frescoes in Spain; The Temple (El Templo), the ancient church of the Knights Templar, which passed into the hands of the Order of Montesa and which was rebuilt in the reigns of Ferdinand VI and Charles III; the former convent of the Dominicans, at present the headquarters of the “capitan general”, the cloister of which has a beautiful Gothic wing and the chapter room, large columns imitating palm trees; the Colegio del Corpus Christi, which is devoted to the exclusive worship of the Blessed Sacrament, and in which perpetual adoration is carried on; the Jesuit college, which was destroyed (1868) by the revolutionary Committee, but rebuilt on the same site; the Colegio de San Juan (also of the Society), the former college of the nobles, now a provincial institute for secondary instruction.

The seminary was built in 1831: from 1790 it was situated at the former house of studies of the Jesuits. Since the Concordat (1851) it ranks as a central semi-nary with the faculty of conferring academic degrees. There have been in Valencia, since very remote times, schools founded by the bishops and directed by ecclesiastics. In 1412 a studium generate with special statutes was established. Alexander VI raised it to the rank of a university on January 23, 1500. Ferdinand the Catholic confirmed this two years later. In 1830 the building was reconstructed; a statue of Luis Vives adorns the corridor. Among the hospitals and charitable institutions may be mentioned: the Casa de Misericordia; the Provincial hospital; the orphan asylum of San Vicente; and the Infant Asylum of the Marques de Campo. In Gandia there was a university, and the palace of St. Francis Borgia, now the novitiate of the Society of Jesus, is preserved.


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