Diocese; suffragan of Valladolid in Spain. Its episcopal succession dates at least from the fourth century and claims an Apostolic origin. Suppressed in the course of the ninth, it was re-established early in the twelfth, century, after the expulsion of the Moors, and was a suffragan of Mérida until 1120; then of Compostella until 1857. The Catholic population is 189,926. There are 360 priests, 339 parishes, and about 500 churches and chapels. Avila is historically one of the most important cities in the medieval and modern history of Spain. In the fourth century the arch-heretic Priscillian was Bishop of Avila, and in later times many saints had Avila as their home, among them St. Teresa and John of Avila, the "Apostle of Andalusia". It was once one of the most flourishing cities of Spain, but its population has dwindled to 7,000. Its Moorish castle and ancient eleventh-century cathedral are monumental relics of the past.
BATTANDIER, Ann. Pont. Cath. (Paris, 1905); 216; PICATOSTE, Tradiciones de Avila (Madrid, 1880); GAMS, Kirchengeschichte Spaniens, I, 150, sqq; FLOREZ, Espana Sagrada, XIV, 1-36; MUNOZ, Bibl. Hist. Espana (1858) 42-4.
THOMAS J. SHAHAN