Roman Catholic Diocese of Oria

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Diocese of Oria

Dioecesis Uritana
Oria Basilica Cattedrale.jpg
Ecclesiastical provinceTaranto
Area921 km2 (356 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2013)
167,800 (est.) (98.4%)
DenominationCatholic Church
RiteRoman Rite
Established8 May 1591
CathedralOria Cathedral (Basilica Cattedrale di S. Maria Assunta in Cielo)
Secular priests76 (diocesan)
42 (Religious Orders)
Current leadership
BishopVincenzo Pisanello
Locator map, diocese of Oria

The Italian Catholic Diocese of Oria (Latin: Dioecesis Uritana) is in Apulia. It is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Taranto.[1][2]


It would appear that Oria (Greek: Ὑρία - Hyria, Οὐρία - Uria) in early times had bishops of its own, because there is a record on a slab in the cathedral, dating from the eighth or ninth century,[3] in which there is mention of a Bishop Theodosius, who was not one of the bishops of Brindisi.[4] A bishop of Euryatensis is named in a Novella of Emperor Leo the Isaurian in 813, which might be a Greek spelling of Oriatensis.[5] When Brindisi was destroyed by the Saracens in the ninth century, its bishops established their see at Oria and called themselves Archbishops of Oria and Brindisi.[6]

In 918, Oria, along with Reggio, Siponto and Taranto, was attacked and devastated by Moors. In 924 there was another attack by Saracens and Moors. In 925 Muslims captured Taranto and Oria.[7] In 926 the Hungarians devastated a town called Auria, which has been identified as Oria. In 977 the Saracens (Agareni) burned and destroyed the town. In 979 Bishop Andrea Albanese began to reconstruct the town, despite the rapacity of the Greek Porphyrius the Protospatha. Porphyrius killed the bishop.[8]

Struggle with Brindisi[edit]

In 1055 the Normans first appeared in Calabria, initiating a lengthy struggle between Byzantine forces who were occupying the territory and the Norman invaders. The Chronicum Northmannicum states that a battle took place at Oria, and that Humphredus (Onophrius), the brother of Count William Iron-Arm, conquered the Greeks; he died the next year. His brother Count Robert Guiscard captured Hydruntum and Castra Minervae, and in 1056 he seized Taranto, but was repulsed; he took it permanently in May 1060. That summer, Count Malagerius came to Oria and expelled the Greeks from it. In 1062, Robert Guiscard took Brindisi again, and later came to Oria and took it again.[9] In 1082 Oria was besieged by Geoffrey of Conversano, but in April his uncle Robert Guiscard raised the siege.[10]

On 3 October 1089, while he was staying at Trani, Pope Urban II wrote to Godinus, Bishop of Oria.[11] He informed the bishop that the situation in the area had been fully investigated, and reminded him that the episcopal seat which was now situated at Oria had from antiquity been located in Brindisi, but that, when Brindisi had been devastated, the seat had been transferred to the municipality of Oria. But now that the city of Brindisi had been restored, the Pope wanted the episcopal seat returned to Brindisi, since Count Goffredus had promised the Pope that the properties of the Church of Brindisi would be restored and even augmented, and that the Church of Brindisi would live under its own government in accordance with Canon Law, always saving the authority of the Roman Pontiff. Even after their return to their former capital, however, the Bishops of Brindisi were addressed on occasion as "Archbishop of Oria".[12] The title of archbishop was claimed from the days when Brindisi had belonged to the Greek church, but the Roman pontiffs declined, at least until the time of Paschal II, to recognize the title. This arrangement persisted until 1591.

Godinus of Brindisi, however, did not fully carry out the restoration of his diocesan seat, as Pope Urban had wanted. This brought a sharp rebuke from Urban II ten years later[13] in the form of a letter to Bishop Godinus, warning him that he should keep to his episcopal seat in Brindisi and not engage in consecrating chrism, ordaining priests, and holding synods at Oria.[14] He did advise him that the clergy and people of Oria should show proper respect for their Mother Church, and should not seek chrism from any other church.[15] Their church was not a cathedral,[16] and Oria was a town which belonged to the diocese of Brindisi, as Pope Calixtus II stated.[17]

View of Oria

Frederick II (1194–1250) built a castle on the hill of Oria, perhaps beginning in 1233, when he also fortified Naples, Trani, Bari, Brindisi, Albanese, Pagano and Papatodero. He also gave the Archbishop of Brindisi the piece of property on the eastern side of the hilltop where the castle was being built as the site for a new church, which was much later to become Oria Cathedral.[18]

In 1219, as he was returning from his unsuccessful trip to Syria to convert the Sultan of Egypt, Saint Francis of Assisi visited Oria and began the establishment of a Franciscan convent there.[19]

In 1559 the Marquisate of Orio was bestowed by King Philip II of Spain and Naples on Frederigo Borromeo of Milan, and when he died without issue in 1562, his successor was Cardinal Carlo Borromeo, the Administrator of the diocese of Milan.[20] The Cardinal held the Marquisate for seven years before selling it to the Imperiali family, for 40,000 ounces of gold. The gold was distributed by the Cardinal to the poor in a single day.[21]

New diocese[edit]

The town was erected into an episcopal see on 8 May 1591 by Pope Gregory XIV,[22] after the death of the Spaniard Bernardino de Figueroa of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brindisi-Ostuni in November 1586, and an interregnum of four and a half years. The diocese of Oria was assigned as a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Taranto. The first bishop of Oria was Vincenzo del Tufo.

In 1675 the town of Oria had a population estimated at 3,500 persons. In 1746 the population had grown to an estimated 7000 persons.

Oria Cathedral (the Cathedral of the Bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven) had a chapter composed of four dignities (the Archdeacon of Oria, the Cantor, the Subcantor, and the Treasurer) and sixteen Canons.[23] In 1746 there were eighteen Canons.[24] The present Baroque cathedral dates from 1756, having been constructed after a violent earthquake destroyed the thirteenth-century church which had become the cathedral in 1591.[25]

On 23 January 2010, Pope Benedict XVI named Father Vincenzo Pisanello a priest of the archdiocese of Otranto and Episcopal Vicar for Administration and Pastor of the Parish of Saints Peter and Paul Church in Galatina, Italy (Lecce), as Bishop of Oria. He was born in Galatina on 3 May 1959 and ordained to the priesthood on 23 June 1984.

Bishops of the Diocese of Oria[edit]

Erected: 8 May 1591

  • Vincenzo del Tufo, C.R. (1596 – Sep 1600 Died)[26][27]
  • Lucio Fornari (16 Sep 1601 – Sep 1618 Died)[28]
  • Giandomenico Ridolfi, C.R. (27 Jan 1620 – 15 Jul 1630 Died)[29]
  • Marco Antonio Parisi (24 Nov 1632 Confirmed – 24 Jan 1649 Died)[30]
  • Raffaele de Palma, O.F.M. Conv. (14 Feb 1650 – 5 Mar 1674 Died)[31][32]
  • Carlo Cuzzolini (9 Sep 1675 Confirmed – 25 Feb 1697)[33]
  • Tommaso Maria Franza, O.P. (3 Jun 1697 – 28 Jan 1719 Died)[34]
  • Giambattista Labanchi (27 May 1720 – 15 Jul 1746 Died)[35]
  • Castrensis Scaja (28 Nov 1746 – 12 Oct 1755 Died)[36]
  • François Joseph Antoine de los Reyes (5 Apr 1756 Confirmed – 19 Feb 1769 Died)[37]
  • Giovanni Capece (12 Mar 1770 Confirmed – Nov 1770 Died)[38]
  • Enrico Celaja (30 Mar 1772 Confirmed – Mar 1780 Died)[39]
  • Alexander Maria Calefati (17 Sep 1781 Confirmed – 30 Dec 1793 Died)[40]
  • Fabrizio Cimino, C.SS.R. (29 Jan 1798 – 22 Mar 1818 Died)[41]
  • Francesco Saverio Triggiani, O.F.M. Conv. (21 Dec 1818 Confirmed – 27 Dec 1828 Resigned)[42]
  • Michele Lanzetta (18 May 1829 Confirmed – 6 Apr 1832 Resigned)[43]
  • Giovanni Domenico di Guido (29 Jul 1833 Confirmed – 16 Dec 1848 Died)[44]
  • Luigi Margarita, C.M. (17 Feb 1851 Confirmed – 15 Apr 1888 Died)[45]
  • Tommaso Montefusco (1 Jun 1888 – 21 Jun 1895 Died)[46]
  • Teodosio Maria Gargiulo (21 Jun 1895 Succeeded – 16 Dec 1902 Died)[47]
  • Antonio di Tommaso (22 Jun 1903 – 8 Feb 1947 Retired)
  • Alberico Semeraro (1 May 1947 – 17 Mar 1978 Retired)
  • Salvatore De Giorgi (17 Mar 1978 Succeeded – 4 Apr 1981 Appointed, Archbishop of Foggia)
  • Armando Franco (12 Sep 1981 – 15 Dec 1997 Died)
  • Marcello Semeraro (25 Jul 1998 – 1 Oct 2004 Appointed, Bishop of Albano)
  • Michele Castoro (14 May 2005 – 15 Jul 2009 Appointed, Archbishop of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo)
  • Vincenzo Pisanello (23 Jan 2010 – )


  1. ^ "Diocese of Oria" David M. Cheney. Retrieved February 29, 2016
  2. ^ "Diocese of Oria" Gabriel Chow. Retrieved February 29, 2016
  3. ^ *Lanzoni, Francesco (1927). Le diocesi d'Italia dalle origini al principio del secolo VII (an. 604) (in Italian). Rome: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. p. 310, no. 6, lists Theodosius as a bishop of Brindisi in the 6th century.
  4. ^ Ughelli, p. 167. Errico, p. 42-43, states that in 886 Bishop Theodosius was sent on a mission to Constantinople to the Emperor Basil I by Pope Stephen V.
  5. ^ D'Avino, p. 511.
  6. ^ D'Avino, p. 513, citing an inscription of Ioannes Carolus Bovius (1564–1572). Cf. Antonucci, p. 316.
  7. ^ Loud, p. 21.
  8. ^ Errico, pp. 44-47, citing references.
  9. ^ Ludovico Antonio Muratori, Rerum Italiae Scriptores, Tomus quintus (Milan 1723), p. 278: Humphredus fecit proelium cum Graecis circa Oriam, et vicit eos. Loud, p. 132.
  10. ^ Loud, p. 220.
  11. ^ Pflugk-Harttung, Julius von (1884). Acta ponticum romanorum inedita ... (in Latin and German). Zweite Band (II). Stuttgart: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt-Kohlhammer. pp. 146, no. 179.
  12. ^ D'Avino, p. 512. Kehr, Italia pontificia IX, p. 384. In the Roman census lists of the 15th century, the entry is: In Archiepiscopatu Brundisino et Oritano.
  13. ^ Loud (2007), Latin Church, p. 196.
  14. ^ Pflugk-Harttung, pp. 166-167, no. 202.
  15. ^ This dispute continued into the reign of Paschal II: Kehr, p. 391, no. 24 (19 April 1110). Pope Alexander III repeated the injunctions in a letter of 26 June 1179: Kehr, p. 395, no. 39.
  16. ^ That Oria was not a cathedral town and that their church was not a cathedral was reemphasised in 1199 by Pope Innocent III. Loud, p. 197.
  17. ^ Chevalier, Ulysse, ed. (1891). Bullaire du Pape Calixte II, 1119-1124: essai de restitution (in French and Latin). Tome II. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale. pp. 7–9, no. 281. Kehr, p. 393 no. 29. Loud, p. 196.
  18. ^ Errico, pp. 54-55.
  19. ^ Papatodero, p. 315. Errico, p. 54 (with misreported inscription).
  20. ^ George L. Williams (2004). Papal Genealogy: The Families and Descendants of the Popes. Jefferson NC USA and London: McFarland. p. 220. ISBN 978-0-7864-2071-1. Errico, p. 84.
  21. ^ Richard Keppel Craven; Gino Doria (1821). A Tour Through the Southern Provinces of the Kingdom of Naples. London: Rodwell and Martin. pp. 164–165. Errico, p. 85.
  22. ^ Bullarum diplomatum et privilegiorum sanctorum Romanorum pontificum Taurinensis editio (in Latin). Tomus nonus (9). Turin: Sebastiano Franco. 1865. pp. 417–419.
  23. ^ Ughelli, p. 166.
  24. ^ Ritzler-Sefrin, V, p. 299 note 1; VI, p. 427 note 1.
  25. ^ Puglia: il Gargano e le isole Tremiti, il Tavoliere e le Murge, la Valle d'Itria e il Salento (in Italian). Touring Club Italiano Editore. 2008. p. 136. ISBN 978-88-365-2779-3.
  26. ^ Ughelli, pp. 167-168. D'Avino, p. 514. Errico, pp. 189-190.
  27. ^ Gauchat, Patritius (Patrice) (1935). Hierarchia Catholica medii et recentioris aevi. Vol. IV. p. 354.
  28. ^ Fornari was nominated by King Philip III. He admitted the Fathers of S. Francis de Paola to the church of S. Barsonulfo. Ughelli, p. 168. Errico, p. 190. Gauchat, IV, p. 354.
  29. ^ Ridolfi was a native of Naples. He was recommended by Pedro Téllez-Girón, 3rd Duke of Osuna, Viceroy of Naples to King Philip III of Spain, who nominated Ridolfi to the diocese of Oria. The appointment was approved by Pope Paul V on 27 January 1620. Ughelli, p. 168. Errico, p. 191. Gauchat, IV, p. 354, with note 5.
  30. ^ Parisi was a native of Squillace. He was Doctor in utroque iure (Civil and Canon Law) from Naples, and was a Chaplain of King Philip IV. He was nominated to the diocese of Oria by the King on 15 February 1632, and approved by Pope Urban VIII on 24 November. Errico, p. 191. Gauchat, IV, p. 354 with note 6.
  31. ^ De Palma was born of Neapolitan nobility, and was a Master of theology. His brother Onuphrio was a Councillor of King Philip IV of Spain. Raffaele had been Custodian of his Order's convent in Assisi. He was nominated by the King, and approved by Pope Innocent X (Pamphili) on 14 February 1650. Ughelli, p. 168. Errico, p. 191. Gauchat, IV, p. 354 with note 7.
  32. ^ "Bishop Raffaele de Palma, O.F.M. Conv." David M. Cheney. Retrieved January 31, 2017
  33. ^ Cuzzolini was born in the city of Cosenza (Calabria). He was a Doctor in utroque iure (Civil and Canon Law) of the University of Naples (1646). He was a Canon of Cosenza, Tropaea and Mazara, and Vicar General of Mazara and then of Palermo. He was nominated bishop of Oria by King Charles II of Spain on 4 February 1675, and approved by Pope Clement X on 9 September. He was transferred to the diocese of Pozzuoli on 25 February 1697. Cuzzolini died in Naples in August 1698. Ughelli, p. 168. Errico, p. 192. Ritzler-Sefrin, V, p. 325 note 7; p. 399 with note 3.
  34. ^ Franza was born in the village of Città di Paola (Cosenza) in 1653. He was a Master of theology and Regent of the Studium Generale of S. Dominic in Naples. He held a chair at the University of Naples. He became Provincial of the Neapolitan Province of the Order of Preachers in 1695. He was consecrated bishop of Oria in Rome on 9 June 1697 by Bishop Sperello Sperelli of Terni. Errico, p. 192. Ritzer-Sefrin, V, p. 400 with note 4.
  35. ^ Labanchi: Errico, p. 192-194. Ritzer-Sefrin, V, p. 400 with note 5.
  36. ^ Scaja: Errico, p. 194-195. Ritzler-Sefrin, VI, p. 427 with note 2.
  37. ^ Los Reyes: Errico, pp. 195-196. Ritzler-Sefrin, VI, p. 427 with note 3.
  38. ^ Capece: Errico, p. 196. Ritzler-Sefrin, VI, p. 427 with note 4.
  39. ^ Celaja: Errico, p. 196. Ritzler-Sefrin, VI, p. 427 with note 5.
  40. ^ Calefati: Errico, pp. 196-198. Ritzler-Sefrin, VI, p. 427 with note 6.
  41. ^ Cimino: Errico, pp. 198-199. Ritzler-Sefrin, VI, p. 427 with note 7.
  42. ^ Triggiani was a native of Bari. He was consecrated in Rome by Cardinal Lorenzo Litta on 27 December 1818. In 1825 he suffered a stroke which made it impossible for him to carry out the obligations of a bishop. He therefore resigned the diocese on 27 December 1828 (Errico says it was in January 1827 that the Holy See relieved him of the administration of the diocese). He died in Bari on 10 July 1829. Errico, pp. 199-200. Ritzler-Sefrin, VII, p. 384.
  43. ^ Lanzetta was born in Calvanico, where he became the Archpriest. He was subsequently honored with a Canonicate in the Cathedral of Salerno. He made his solemn entry into his diocese on 24 April 1830. After only six months he left the diocese and returned home. He resigned the diocese of Oria on 6 April 1832, and on 20 January 1834 he was confirmed by Pope Gregory XVI as bishop of Lacedonia. He died on 25 April 1842, of a lung hemorrhage. Errico, p. 200. Ritzler-Sefrin, VII, pp. 231, 385.
  44. ^ Guida was born in Saiano (Sorrento). On 7 April 1833 he was nominated bishop of Oria by Ferdinand II King of Naples, and was confirmed on 29 July by Pope Gregory XVI. He was consecrated in Naples in the house of the Missionaries of S. Vincent de Paoli on 4 August 1833 by Cardinal Francesco Serra Cassano, Archbishop of Capua. In 1836 he prepared a trip to Rome, but was prevented from travelling by cholera which was raging throughout the Kingdom. He made his ad limina visit in March 1840. His Vicar General was Domenico Ventura, later Archbishop of Salerno. Di Guido died of a heart attack on 16 December 1848. Errico, pp. 200-201.
  45. ^ Margarita was born (1800) and died (1888) in Francavilla Fontana (Oria). In 1869 he travelled to Rome and participated in the First Vatican Council. Errico, pp. 201-203.
  46. ^ Montefusco: Errico, pp. 203-204.
  47. ^ Gargiulo was a native of Lecce, and a Canon in the Cathedral. He taught in the diocesan seminary, where eventually he became Rector. He was named Custodian of the house for Penitent Women (prostitutes). He was named titular bishop of Nilopolis and Coadjutor Bishop with right of succession to Bishop Monefusco of Oria on 18 March 1895. He succeeded to the diocese on 21 June. Oo 21 September 1897 Oria was stricken by a storm in which, in addition to the loss of lives, the episcopal palace, cathedral, seminary, and church of San Barsanofio were heavily damaged. In 1902, while on a trip to Lecce, he was stricken with pneumonia; he died on 16 December. Il Monitore ecclesiastico (in Italian). Volume IX, 1. Conversano. 1895. p. 46. Errico, pp. 204-207. Ritzler-Sefrin, VIII, p. 416, 576.


Reference Works[edit]



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

Coordinates: 40°30′00″N 17°38′00″E / 40.5000°N 17.6333°E / 40.5000; 17.6333