Roman Catholic Diocese of San Severo

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The Italian Catholic Diocese of San Severo (Latin: Dioecesis Sancti Severi) is in Apulia. It is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Foggia-Bovino.


The diocese of San Severo was established on 9 March 1580 by Pope Gregory XIII, with the bull "In Eminenti". The bull specifically states that the city of Civitas (Città),a town now called San Paolo di Civitate, was practically uninhabited and levelled to the ground, and that there were scarcely any traces of a cathedral. The See of Civitas was vacant, since its bishop, Cardinal Francesco Alciati, had just resigned. Therefore, the seat of the vacant bishopric and the name and title of cathedral was transferred to the town (oppidum) of San Severo, which was fortified by walls and towers, and had a moderate population and several nobles, as well as four parishes. The parish church of S. Mary the Virgin was promoted to the status of a cathedral, and the seat of the bishop erected there. The diocese of San Severo was made a suffragan (subordinate) of the Archbishop of Benevento.To this diocese was later added the territory of the ancient Dragonara, a city built in 1005 by the Byzantine Governor of Apulia. Cappelletti gives the names of twenty-eight bishops of Dragonara between 1061 and 1657.On 30 July 1627, a major earthquake struck San Severo, with a loss of life of some 800 persons. Churches and buildings were ruined. "Sansevero città è disfatta in tutto," wrote one witness. Tremors continued for a year, causing many inhabitants to give up and migrate elsewhere.Between November 1656 and May 1657, the province of Capitanata and the city of San Severo were visited by the plague, causing the deaths of 3,000 people in the city, including Bishop Giovanni Battista Monti.In 1703 the population was only around 3,000 persons.Other earthquakes caused serious damage in February 1828 and on 14 August 1851.

Cathedral and Chapter

The cathedral of San Severo, dedicated to the taking up (assumption) of the body of the Virgin Mary into heaven, was consecrated by Cardinal Vincenzo Maria Orsini, O.P., Archbishop of Manfredonia (Siponto). The church of S. Antonio was united to the cathedral, along with its hospice, at which travellers would be received for three nights' sleeping accommodation; it also received the sick. The Prior of the hospice was elected annually by the cathedral Chapter.The cathedral was administered by a Chapter, composed of three dignities (the Archdeacon, the Archpriest and the Primicerius) and twelve Canons. One of the Canons was designated the Canon Penitentiarius and another the Canon Theologus, according to a decree of Bishop Malaspina.


A diocesan synod was an irregularly held, but important, meeting of the bishop of a diocese and his clergy. Its purpose was (1) to proclaim generally the various decrees already issued by the bishop; (2) to discuss and ratify measures on which the bishop chose to consult with his clergy; (3) to publish statutes and decrees of the diocesan synod, of the provincial synod, and of the Holy See.Synods were held by: Bishops Malaspina (1583–1604) in 1598; Densa (1658-1670), and Fortunato (1670-1678). Bishop Francesco Antonio Sacchetti (1635-1648) held two synods. Bishop Carlo Felice de Matta (1678-1701) held his third diocesan synod on 15 August 1681; it was the ninth synod in the diocese's history. A diocesan synod was held by Bishop Adeodato Summantico, O.E.S.A. (1717- 1735) on 30–31 October 1720; he held a second synod on 15 August 1726. Bishop Giovanni Camillo Rossi held a diocesan synod on 18 May 1823, and published its decrees. Bishop Francesco Orlando (1942-1960) held a diocesan synod in San Severo in 1949.

A different metropolitan

A major administrative reorganization of the dioceses of Apulia took place in 1979. Following the Second Vatican Council, and in accordance with the norms laid out in the council's decree, Christus Dominus chapter 40, the Episcopal Conference of Apulia petitioned the Holy See (Pope) that Foggio be made a metropolitan and that a new ecclesiastical province be organized; Foggia was, at the time, directly dependent upon the Holy See, even though it was the capital of a civil province of Italy. After wide consultations among all affected parties, Pope John Paul II issued the bull "Sacrorum Antistites" on 30 April 1979, in which he, first of all, dissolved the ecclesiastical province of Siponto (Manfredonia), and elevated Foggia to the status of metropolitan see. He then created the new ecclesiastical province of Foggia, whose constituent bishoprics (suffragans) were to be: Manfredonia (no longer a metropolitanate, though the archbishop was allowed to retain the title of archbishop); Troiana (which had previously been directly subject to the Holy See); Ascoli e Cerinola, Bovino, Lucera and San Severo (all of which had been suffragans of the metropolitanate of Benevento); and Vestana (which had been a suffragan of Manfredonia).

Bishops of Civitas (Civitate, Città)

Bishops of San Severo

1581 to 1804

1804 to present

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