Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Diocese of Luni-Sarzana-Brugnato

Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 9
Diocese of Luni-Sarzana-Brugnato by Umberto Benigni

Diocese in the province of Genoa. Luni (originally Luna) was an Etruscan city, but was seized by the Ligurians. At an uncertain date it was taken by the Romans under Domitius Calvinus. In 177 B.C., and under the Second Triumvirate, Roman colonies were established there. The port, though far from the city (the modern port of Spezia), was very important even in antiquity, and the marble of Luna, known to-day as Carrara marble was very renowned. In the fifth century Luna was sacked by the Vandals, and in 650 by the Lombards. From the ninth century onwards is suffered the depredations of the Saracens, the last time in 1016 under Mogehit, who, however, was conquered the same year (8 June) by the Genoese and Pisan fleets. The city never recovered, however, and in 1058 the inhabitants emigrated to the modern Sarzana. Ruins are still visible of an amphitheatre, a semicircular theatre, a circus, and an aquarium. Numerous sixth century inscriptions, some of which are Christian, have been found at Luni. The sole record of its ancient importance survives in the name of Lunigiana. Sarzana (supposed to be derived from Sergiana) is a small city on the right bank of the River Magras, nearly four miles from the sea. It is first mentioned in 963. The temporal jurisdiction of Sarzana was vested in the bishops of Luni, though it was often contested by the Malaspina marquesses. Later it passed to the Pisans and to the Genoese. In 1353 a congress of princes and representatives of the republics of Italy was held at Sarzana. In the Middle Ages it was an important strategic point; the walls and bastions are still visible, while the citadel, which was erected in 1263 by the Pisans and destroyed and rebuilt by Lorenzo de'Medici (1488) and by Charles VIII (1496), serves to-day as a prison. The cathedral was built after 1200, and was several times restored (1355, 1474, and in 1664 by Cardinal Calandrini). It contains pictures by Salimbene, Fiesella (called "Il Sarzana"), Balletti (Coronation of Frederick III), and sculptures by Baratta. The ceiling in carved wood is the work of Pietro Giambelli. In a precious reliquary is preserved a lacrimatory in which, according to a pious legend, Nicodemus collected some drops of the Blood of Christ. The archives of the cathedral contain the precious "Codex Pallavicinus", a collection of notarial documents and deeds made in 1226 by Bishop Guglielmo Pallavicino. The church of S. Francesco is also important.

The episcopal see dates at least from the fifth century. In the sixth century St. Terentius and St. Venantius, a friend of St. Gregory the Great, flourished. Under Bishop Felerandus the above-mentioned relic of the Blood of Christ is said to have been brought to Luni. St. Ceccardus (892) was murdered by barbarians. When Luni was abandoned, the episcopal see was fixed at Sarzana, then at Sarzanello, and finally at Castelnuovo. In 1202 Innocent III transferred the see to Sarzana, Gualtiero being the bishop. In 1306 Dante went to Sarzana, and succeeded in settling a dispute between Bishop Antonio Camulla and the Marquess Malaspina. The poet's sojourn here inspired a few "terzine" of the "Divine Comedy". In 1355 Charles IV conferred on the bishops of Luni the title of prince of the Holy Roman Empire, Antonio M. Parentuccelli (1495), a cousin of Nicholas V, built the episcopal palace and the church of S. Maria delle Grazie. Other illustrious bishops were Cardinal Simone Pasqua (1561); Giovanni Selvaco (1590), the founder of the seminary; Giulio Cesare Lomellino (1757), the reformer of the diocese; Vincenzo M. Maggioli (1795), put to flight by the Jacobins. In 1787 the Diocese of Pontremoli, and in 1821 that of Massa Ducale were separated from Luni-Sarzana, but the Diocese of Brugnato, separated from Luni by Innocent II in 1133, was added in 1822. The diocese of Luni-Sarzana is directly subject to the Holy See, but Brugnato is a suffragan of Genoa; the united diocese has 107 parishes with 165,000 souls, 10 religious houses of men, and 25 of women, 6 schools for boys and 8 for girls, and a Catholic periodical.