Roman Catholic Diocese of Biella

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Diocese of Biella
Dioecesis Bugellensis
Biella Cathedral
Country  Italy
Ecclesiastical province Vercelli
Area 900 km2 (350 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2012)
176,500 (est.)
164,000 (est.) (92.9%)
Parishes 114
Denomination Catholic Church
Rite Roman Rite
Established 1 June 1772
Cathedral Cattedrale di S. Stefano
Secular priests 125 (diocesan)
41 (religious Orders)
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Bishop Gabriele Mana
Roman Catholic Diocese of Biella in Italy.svg

The Diocese of Biella (Latin: Dioecesis Bugellensis) is a Roman Catholic ecclesiastical territory in northern Italy, created in 1772.[1] It is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Vercelli. Biella is a city in Piedmont.


The baptistery of Biella.

Until 1772 Biella was under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Vercelli. In that year Pope Clement XI, at the request of Charles Emmanuel III of Sardinia, established the Diocese of Biella by the papal bull Praecipua.[2]

The first bishop was Giulio Cesare Viancini, formerly Archbishop of Sassari in Sardinia. In 1803 Napoleon suppressed the diocese, which again fell under the jurisdiction of Vercelli, but was re-established in 1817 by Pope Pius VII who appointed as bishop the Observant Franciscan, Bernardino Bollati.

In the shrine of Maria Santissima d'Oropa, situated on a mountain near Biella,[3] the diocese preserves a memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, who was banished to the Orient by Emperor Constantius for his defence of Catholicism against Arianism. St. Eusebius, according to tradition,[weasel words] upon his return from the East, is said[citation needed] to have brought three pictures of the Madonna painted on cedar wood, one of which, the image of Oropa, he placed in a small oratory he had built. In the tenth century the chapel was placed in charge of the Benedictines. When they abandoned the place, Pope Pius II, in 1459, made over the shrine to the Chapter of the Collegiate Church of San Stefano, now the Biella Cathedral, to which it has since belonged. In the sixteenth century, the inhabitants of Biella, in thanksgiving for their deliverance from the plague, built a church over the chapel. In the seventeenth century construction of the devotional complex known as the Sacro Monte di Oropa began.

Among the religious edifices of the city of Biella, the most notable is the Gothic cathedral, built in 1402.[4] Its beautiful choir is by Galliari. The baptistery, in the form of a small temple, is said to be an ancient Roman edifice. It is in fact a work of the eleventh century, erected on the site of a Roman tomb.[5]

The Chapter of the Cathedral is far older than the Cathedral itself. The Canons of the Collegiate Church of San Stefano appear already in the twelfth century.[6] The Chapter was composed of a Provost, a Treasurer and a Primicerius, among a total of twenty canons. There were also twelve chaplains.[7]

Bishops of Biella[edit]

  • Giulio Cesare Viancini (1 October 1772 – 22 October 1796 died)[8]
  • Giovanni Battista Canaveri, Orat. (26 November 1797 – 1 February 1805)[9] (promoted Bishop of Vercelli, 1 February 1805[10])
  • Bernardino Bollati, O.F.M.Observ. (21 December 1818 – 11 June 1828 died)[11]
  • Placido Maria Tadini (13 August 1829 – 28 October 1833 appointed as apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Genoa and later made cardinal.
  • Giovanni Pietro Losana (6 April 1834 – 14 February 1873 died)[12]
  • Basilio Leto[13] (10 August 1873 – 19 December 1885 resigned; became Bishop of Samaria)
  • Domenico Cumino (15 January 1886 – 29 June 1901 died)
  • Giuseppe Gamba (16 December 1901 – 13 August 1906 made Bishop of Novara)
  • Giovanni Andrea Masera (19 August 1906 – 2 December 1912 made auxiliary Bishop of Sabina)
  • Natale Serafino (2 December 1912 – 22 March 1917 made Bishop of Chiavari)
  • Giovanni Garigliano (22 March 1917 – 10 October 1936 died)
  • Carlo Rossi (7 December 1936 – 15 February 1972 retired)
  • Vittorio Piola (15 February 1972 – 15 May 1986 resigned)
  • Massimo Giustetti (3 December 1986 – 13 July 2001 retired
  • Gabriele Mana (13 July 2001 – )


The diocese, which covers an area of 900 km², is divided into 114 parishes.[14] All but one are in the civil Province of Biella, the other falls within Province of Vercelli. A list of parishes by province and commune follows; locations (villages or neighbourhoods) within a commune are shown in brackets.[15]

Province of Biella[edit]

Andorno Micca
S. Giuseppe (San Giuseppe di Casto)
S. Lorenzo
S. Pietro
S. Antonio
S. Bernardo
S. Biagio
S. Cassiano
S. Giacomo
S. Maria Assunta e S. Quirico
S. Paolo
S. Stefano
S. Giovanni Battista (Cossila)
S. Grato - (Cossila)
S. Giuseppe - (Favaro)
S. Carlo (Pavignano)
Santi Giovanni e Defendente (Vaglio e Colma)
Nostra Signora di Oropa (Villaggio Lamarmora)
S. Maria Assunta
S. Sulpizio
S. Maria degli Angeli
Santi Grato e Policarpo
S. Martino
Campiglia Cervo
Santi Bernardo e Giuseppe
S. Lorenzo
S. Pietro
S. Lorenzo
S. Michele
Cerreto Castello
S. Tommaso
S. Giovanni Battista
SS. Annunziata
S. Giorgio (Vergnasco)
S. Giorgio
S. Grato
Gesù Nostra Speranza
S. Defendente
S. Maria Assunta
S. Pietro (Castellengo)
Santi Cosma e Damiano
Santi Pietro Paolo e Giovanni Battista
S. Lorenzo
S. Pietro
S. Martino
S. Fede
Santi Grato e Defendente
S. Lorenzo
Santi Giovanni Battista e Secondo
S. Maria Assunta
Mezzana Mortigliengo
S. Bartolomeo
S. Antonio
S. Lorenzo
S. Maria Assunta
S. Rocco
S. Maria Assunta
Beata Maria Vergine del Carmine
Santi Giuseppe e Bernardo
S. Eusebio
S. Maria Assunta
SS. Annunziata
Occhieppo Inferiore
S. Antonino
Occhieppo Superiore
S. Antonio
S. Stefano
S. Bernardo
Santi Stefano e Giacomo
S. Michele
Santi Michele e Grato
S. Eusebio Prete
S. Lorenzo
Immacolata Concezione di Maria
S. Maria della Neve
S. Eurosia
S. Maria della Pace
Pray Biellese
S. Antonio
S. Martino
Ronco Biellese
S. Michele
S. Maria del Rosario e S. Michele
Santi Pietro e Giorgio
Sagliano Micca
Santi Giacomo e Stefano
Sala Biellese
S. Martino
S. Maria Assunta
Natività di Maria
S. Bartolomeo
San Paolo Cervo
S. Eusebio
S. Maria Assunta
Selve Marcone
S. Grato
S. Giuseppe
S. Ambrogio
Natività di Maria
Santissima Trinità e San Carlo
S. Eusebio
S. Germano
S. Maria Assunta
Santi Quirico e Giulitta
Visitazione di Maria
Santi Fabiano e Sebastiano (Bulliana)
Sacro Cuore di Gesù (Ponzone)
Santissima Trinità (Ponzone)
S. Giuseppe - (Pratrivero)
S. Biagio
Santi Orso e Brigida
Valle Mosso
Cuore Immacolata di Maria (Campore)
S. Eusebio
Santi Antonio e Bernardo (Croce Mosso)
Valle San Nicolao
S. Nicolao
S. Giovanni Battista
S. Lorenzo
Vigliano Biellese
S. Maria Assunta
S. Giuseppe Operaio (Villaggi)
Villanova Biellese
S. Barnaba
S. Maria Assunta
S. Giorgio
S. Nicolao
Santi Cassiano e Carlo
Santi Fabiano e Sebastiano

Province of Vercelli[edit]

S. Lorenzo


At the end of 2004 the diocese had a population of 175,000 of whom 171,000 (97.7%) had been baptised into the Catholic Church.[16]

Year Population Priests Deacons Religious Parishes
  baptised total % number secular regular baptised
per priest
  men women  
1950 148,327 149,361 99.3 272 224 48 545 118 686 123
1959 197,703 198,649 99.5 227 199 28 870 96 490 124
1970 201,850 202,115 99.9 217 198 19 930 24 452 126
1978 200,250 200,700 99.8 203 180 23 986 46 384 126
1990 202,000 203,000 99.5 180 150 30 1,122 11 48 400 114
1999 180,000 180,356 99.8 171 140 31 1,052 25 52 352 114
2000 180,000 180,356 99.8 172 141 31 1,046 28 54 352 114
2001 180,000 180,356 99.8 166 135 31 1,084 27 54 352 114
2002 175,000 180,000 97.2 165 134 31 1,060 27 54 352 114
2003 171,000 175,000 97.7 166 135 31 1,030 26 52 293 114
2004 171,000 175,000 97.7 161 130 31 1,062 26 52 286 114


  1. ^ Cheney 2007
  2. ^ Cappeletti, pp. 649-662, with the text of the Bull of Clement XI.
  3. ^ Rando (ed.), pp. 77-82. Gustavo Avogadro de Valdengo (1846). Storia del santuario di Nostra Signora d'Oropa ne' monti di Biella (in Italian). Torino: Stamperia Reale. 
  4. ^ Rando (ed.), pp. 38-39.
  5. ^ Rando (ed.), p. 38. The ‘History’ section of the article quotes extensively from Benigni 1907, which is in the public domain, and quite obsolete.
  6. ^ Schiaparelli cites a Bull of Pope Celestine III of 26 November 1194, confirming the grant of concessions by Bishop Rainerio of Vercelli. Schiaparelli, Luigi (1896). "Origini del comune di Biella". Memorie della Reale Accademia delle scienze di Torino. 46: 203–258, at p. 230 and 241–242. 
  7. ^ Giovanni Mullatera (1778). Memorie cronologiche e corografiche della citta di Biella (in Italian). Biella: Cajani. pp. 25–28. 
  8. ^ Viancini was nominated by King Charles Emmanuel III of Sardinia on 17 June 1772. He was Archbishop of Sassari (1763–1772) when nominated. Ritzler, p. 133, with note 2. Gams, pp. 813 and 840. Cappelletti, p. 662.
  9. ^ Canaveri was born in Mari in the diocese of Albenga, and obtained a Doctorate in theology from the University of Turin (1773). He was nominated by the King of Sardinia on 14 June 1797, and consecrated in Rome on 6 August 1797 by Cardinal Hyacinthe Gerdil. He died on 11 January 1811. Ritzler, p. 134, with note 3. Gams, pp. 813.
  10. ^ Ritzler, p. 134, n. 3. Gams, pp. 813, 826.
  11. ^ Cappelletti, pp. 663-670. Bima, p. 112.
  12. ^ Losana was born in Vigone on 22 January 1793. He obtained a degree in theology from Turin in 1815, and was ordained in 1816. He joined the theological faculty at Turin in 1817; in 1818 he was Prefect of Studies in Casale-Monferrato. In 1819 and 1820 he was regent in Scripture and then in theology at the University. In 1824 he was granted the Abbey of S. Andrea in Savigliano. In 1826 Pope Leo XII named him titular bishop of Abydus and sent him to Syria as Vicar Apostolic of Aleppo and Delegate of the Holy See in Monte Lebano; his jurisdiction also extended to Cyprus, Egypt, Arabia and Syria as far as the Euphrates. During that time he became Administrator of the diocese of Baghdad, on the death of its bishop, Petrus Cuprié in 1832. In 1833 he was appointed titular Latin Patriarch of Constantinople. A Gio. Pietro Losana vescovo di Biella e conte grand'ufficiale dell'ordine dei SS. Maurizio e Lazzaro prelato domestico di S. Santità ed assistente al soglio pontificio nel cinquantesimo anniversario della sua prima messa il Capitolo e Clero della citta 27 maggio 1866 (in Italian). tip. Amosso. 1866. pp. 14–19.  Cappelletti, p. 670. Losana spoke against the idea of papal infallibility at the First Vatican Ecumenical Council: 'Quirinus'; Dollinger, J.J.I. (1870). Letters from Rome on the Council. Rivingtons. p. 668.  Bessone, Angelo Stefano (2006). Giovanni Pietro Losana, (1793-1873). Biella: Fondazione Cassa di risparmio di Biella. 
  13. ^ Leto was born in Masserano, some 7 miles (12 km) from Biella. He held a degree in theology from the Seminary in Vercelli. He was Provost-Canon of the Collegiate Church of Trino and its parish priest; Archdeacon of Vercelli when appointed bishop: La Gerarchia Cattolica e la Famiglia Pontificia: 1881 (in Italian). Roma: Monaldi. 1881. p. 118. 
  14. ^ CCI n.d.a
  15. ^ The list of parishes was derived from CCI n.d.b
  16. ^ Figures from the Annuario pontificio 2005 and earlier, as reported by David M. Cheney, Catholic Hierarchy, on the page Diocese of Biella, retrieved: 2016-10-10.

Sources, and further reading[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Biella". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°34′00″N 8°04′00″E / 45.5667°N 8.0667°E / 45.5667; 8.0667