Aside from the churches and convents, perhaps the most interesting monuments in Assisi are the remains of the temple of Minerva, a striking reminder of the Roman period, and the renowned castle known as the Rocca Maggiore, dating, as it seems, from Charlemagne's time, and affording a magnificent panorama of Assisi and it vicinity. The population of the town numbers now about 3,750.
Present Status: The Dicese of Assisi now comprises four municipalities in the civil province of Perugia (Umbria), besides twenty-six small hamlets and villages, each, with the exception of Porziano, having its church and resident priest. There are 3 education institutions for boys with 206 pupils; and 1 episcopal seminary, with 28 seminarists. There are 64 secular priests, and 125 priests of religious orders; while the faithful of the diocese number 28,500. There are 8 monasteries of men and 18 convents of nuns. The churches, chapels, an oratories in the diocese number 190, with 35 parishes in all. The Diocese of Assisi is immediately subject to the Holy See, a privilege which it has enjoyed from remote antiquity.
Cristofani,Delle storie d'Assisi (Assisi, 1866); Gordon,The Story of Assisi (London, 1903); De Costanza,Disamina degli scrittori e dei mounmenti riguardanti S. Rufino, vescovo e matire di Assisi' (Assisi, 1797); Ughelli, Italia Sacra (Venice, 1722), I; Cappelletti, Le chicse d'italia (Venice, 1896), V; Cruickshank, The Umbrian Towns (London, 1901); Hutton, The Cites of Umbria (London, 1905); Schnürer, Franz von Assisi (Munich, 1905); Thode, Franz von Assisi und die Anfange der Kunst der Renissance in Italien(Berlin, 1904).
Assistant Priest. See Priest.
Assistant at the Pontifical Throne (Assistents Throno Pontifico).—Bishops-assistant at the pontifical throne are those prelates who belong to the Papal Chapel (Cappella Pontifica), and hold towards the Pope much the same relation as cathedral canons do to their bishop. At solemn functions these Assistants, adorned with cope and mitre, surround the throne of the Pope, while other bishops are not privileged to be in his immediate vicinity. To this College of Assistants belong ex officio all patriarchs and those archbishops and bishops to whom the Pope has granted the privilege by brief. The Throne-Assistants rank immediately after the Cardinals. They are privileged to celebrate Mass in private oratories and to dispose of a certain sum from their episcopal benefices in favour of clerics or their own relations, or to lay it aside for their own obsequies, These Throne Assistants are always created Counts of the Apostolic Palace and they belong to the Pontifical Family.
Bangen. Die Rümische Curie (Münster, 1854); Humphrey, Urbn et Orbis (London, 1899), 167
Assize of Clarendon, The.—A name improperly applied to the Council held at Clarendon, January 25, 1164, where Henry II required St. Thomas Becket and the English bishops to subscribe sixteen "Constitutions", alleging them to be customs of the realm. One gave into the King's hands the custody of vacant sees and abbeys and made election to them dependent on his license and assent. The second and seventh provided that the King's justices should, in every suit to which an ecclesiastic was a party, determine whether the cause was spiritual or secular; if the former, that a royal officer should be present in the bishop's court where it was tried; and that on conviction the defendant, in a criminal action, should be handed over to the secular arm for punishment. By the third no King's officer was to be excommunicated, or his lands interdicted, without application to the Crown. The fourth required royal leave before any Church dignitary might pass beyond sea, i.e. to Rome. The fifth allowed no appeals to the Pope except the King suffered them. All causes, however spiritual, were to be terminated in England. Of these enactments, the first violated Henry I's Charter, King Stephen's confirmation of the Church's liberties, and Henry II's own previous statutes. That one which relates to "criminous clerks" has been variously interpreted, but its meaning is not doubtful. Henry II was aiming at a systematic encroachment on the popular and religious jurisdiction. In Saxon times the Archdeacon sat in the same court with lay judges. William the Conqueror forbade this custom and established separate "Courts Christian", which, however, neither derived their authority from the civil power nor went by its rules. They dealt with all cases involving clerics, i.e. persons who had received the tonsure. They could not pronounce a sentence of blood. Their penalties were "for the salvation of souls", and the most severe for an ecclesiastic was to be degraded from his order. Abuses followed this milder jurisdiction. Henry II, it appears, was intent on setting up in his kingdom a procedure which the old imperial law exhibited, and which Gratian's "Decretum" quotes (C. II, q. I; c. 18, c. 31). "Curia traderet puniendos", said an edict of the Emperor Arcadius received into the Theodosian Code, touching unworthy clerics. To similar effect Innocent III: after degradation, certain clerks were to be given up for punishment to the secular power (Regesta Innoc. III, i, 574; II, 268; ed. Baluze). But such a practice had never been the English custom. St. Thomas argued that deprivation was penalty sufficient, however grave the offense; and that no man ought to be punished twice, as he would be if the civil magistrate took in hand the guilty party after he was condemned. Henry did not affect to be God's Vicar in spirituals. Yet his constitutions infringed the liberties which English clerks (clerics) had enjoyed, as well as sometimes abused. By cutting off appeals to Rome he was anticipating the Tudor legislation. The Church courts were superior to the royal in matters of learning, procedure, and justice. Their popularity was not undeserved. Excommunication of great officers in an age of violence was often the sole weapon against tyranny. St. Thomas, in resisting the constitutions, had precedent on his side. But Henry never can have meant to abolish the privilegium fori, even where a clerk had broken the criminal law. Such a clerk was to plead (respondere) before lay judges; to be tried, condemned, degraded in the spiritual court; and then to be chastised by royal authority. Hence Alexander III's hesitation to support the Archbishop becomes intelligible. The Pope did, it is true, in 1166, confirm his action; and in 1176, when St. Thomas had been canonized, a partial agreement took place at Northampton between the King and the Holy See, represented by Cardinal Pietroleone. Clerks who broke the Forest Laws, or held feudal tenures, were made subject to the lay courts. The Constitutions of Clarendon were not directly repealed. But in Magna Charta the first article guarantees, without specifying them in detail, the liberties of the Church, "almost in the form", says J. A. Froude, "in which Becket himself would have defined them". It may be added that the real Assize of Clarendon, in 1166, laid down instructions for judges on circuit and instituted trial by jury, but was altogether distinct from the assembly at which St. Thomas underwent his great temptation. (See Immunities, Clerical; Thomas Becket, St.)
Wilkins, Leges Saxonorum, 321; Lingard, Hist. Eng., II; Stubbs, Hist. Appendix to Ecclesiast. Courts Commission; Freeman, Norman Conquest; Froude, Life and Times of Thomas à Becket, in Short Studies, II; Maitland, Roman Canon Law in Ch. of England (London).