Roman Catholic Diocese of Viterbo

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Diocese of Viterbo
Dioecesis Viterbiensis
Viterbo Cathedral
Country Italy
Ecclesiastical province Immediately subject to the Holy See
Area 2,161 km2 (834 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2010)
162,837 (96.9%)
Parishes 96
Denomination Catholic Church
Rite Roman Rite
Established 6th century
Cathedral Basilica Cattedrale di S. Lorenzo Martire (Viterbo)
Co-cathedral Basilica Cattedrale del S. Sepolcro (Acquapendente)
Basilica di S. Maria Maggiore (Tuscania)
Concattedrale di S. Nicola (Bagnoregio)
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Bishop Lino Fumagalli
Emeritus Bishops Lorenzo Chiarinelli

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Viterbo (Latin: Dioecesis Viterbiensis) is a Catholic ecclesiastical territory in central Italy. It was called historically (from the 12th century) the Diocese of Viterbo e Tuscania. Its name was changed to Diocese of Viterbo, Acquapendente, Bagnoregio, Montefiascone, Tuscania e San Martino al Monte Cimino in 1986, and shortened in 1991.[1] The diocese is immediately subject to the Holy See.


The name of Viterbo occurs for the first time in the 8th century, under Pope Zachary, when it was a village tributary to Toscanella, in Lombard Tuscany (Tuscia Langobardorum) on the Via Cassia. Charlemagne gave the pope all this Tuscan territory in feudal tenure, the imperial authority over it being still represented by a sculdascio and later by a count.

When Cardinal Albornoz came to effect the reconquest of the Papal States, Viterbo submitted and built a fortress (Rocca) for the governor of the Patrimony. In 1367, during the sojourn of Pope Urban V at Viterbo, a quarrel between the populace and the retinue of one of the cardinals developed into a general uprising, which the Viterban Cardinal Marco quickly put down. In 1375 Francesco di Vico took possession of the city, which joined in the general revolt against papal rule, but quickly submitted. When the Western Schism arose, Vico's tyranny recommenced; he took the side of Pope Clement VII and sustained a siege by Cardinal Orsini. The people rose and killed him (8 May 1387), and Viterbo returned to the obedience of Pope Urban VI. But in 1391 Gian Sciarra di Vico reentered the city and took possession of its government. In 1391 Cardinal Pileo, the legate of Pope Clement VII, would have given the city over to Pope Boniface IX, but his plan failed, and he fled: Vico came to an understanding with Boniface.

After a century of trouble, peace was not re-established until 1503, when the government of Viterbo was subsequently, instead of the governor of the Patrimony, to a cardinal legate; after 1628 it was the residence of a simple governor. One of its cardinal legates was Reginald Pole, around whom there grew up at Viterbo a coterie of friends, Vittoria Colonna among them, who aroused suspicions of heterodoxy.

The episcopal see of Viterbo was transferred from Toscanella, which venerates the martyrs Secundianus, Verianus, and companions (who, however, were Romans). They suffered not far from the city, to which their relics were translated in the seventh century by Bishop Maurus, the first bishop known (649). Among the successors of Maurus was Homobonus, to whom Pope Leo IV (850) addressed a letter determining the boundaries of the diocese. In 876 Joannes, in the name of Pope John VIII, carried the imperial insignia to Charles the Bald.

During the tenth century Toscanella was for some time under the Bishop of Centumcellae. The succession of its bishops recommences with Joannes (1027); another Joannes distinguished himself in the reform of Benedict (1049) and brought back the clergy of Tuscania to the common life. Gilbert (1059) and Giselbert (1080) were also promoters of reform, while Richard (1086) adhered to the antipope Clement III, who united with Toscanella Centumcellae and the see of Blera.

In 1192 Pope Celestine III formed Viterbo into a diocese, combining it with that of Toscanella. Among other bishops were Ranieri (c. 1200), in whose episcopate the Paterini came to Viterbo, still active in 1304. After him Cardinal Raniero Capocci was for a long time the administrator.

In the fourteenth century the clergy of Toscanella repeatedly refused to recognize the bishop elected by the chapter of Viterbo, so that Pope Clement V (1312) reserved to the Holy See the right of appointment.[2] In 1435 the Diocese of Corneto was separated and joined with the then recently erected Diocese of Montefiascone.

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 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Diocese of Viterbo and Toscanella". Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.