March of Ancona

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The march in a map of 1564 by Vincenzo Luchino.
The papal standard of Ancona.

The March of Ancona or marca Anconitana (also Anconetana) was a frontier march centred on the city of Ancona and, then, Macerata in the Middle Ages.[1] Its name is preserved as an Italian region today, the Marche, and it corresponds to almost the entire modern region and not just the Province of Ancona.

The march was created as a political division of the Papal States during the pontificate of Innocent III in the year 1198. It was initially governed by a papal nominee called a rector. The rector of Ancona, like the rectors of the other papal provinces, was under the authority of a general rector reporting directly to the pope. The province was confirmed by the Constitutiones Sanctæ Matris Ecclesiæ in 1357. The march followed the Adriatic as far north as Urbino and contained the cities of Loreto, Camerino, Fermo, Macerata, Osimo, San Severino, and Tolentino

The March and the Spiritual Franciscans

According to Paul Sabatier's biography of St. Francis of Assisi, "The Road to Assisi", the March of Ancona became the home of the spiritual Franciscans after Francis' death. These included some of Francis' original disciples, most notably Brother Bernard of Quintavalle, who was Francis' first convert and companion, and Brother Thomas of Celano, who wrote the official hagiographies that brought Francis to canonization.

These "spirituals" were unhappy with the Rules of 1221 and 1223 adopted by the Order of Friars Minor after Francis abdicated leadership of the Order. The Marches provided room for the solitude and poverty they sought. The region also offered protection from the authorities (Papal, Franciscan, and secular) who dubbed them 'heretics'.

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