Rome, Italy

City and diocese of the Pope, known also as the See of Peter, the Apostolic See, the Holy Roman Church, the Holy See, and the Eternal City. It was inhabited as early as the 8th century B.C., and, according to some authorities, several centuries earlier. Its first growth is obscure, there being, however, three clearly-defined original tribes, Ramnians (Latins), Titians (Sabines), and Luceres (Etruscans). The members of these ancient tribes were known as patricians, and their struggle down to the Imperial period with the newer inhabitants or plebeians resulted in the civil, political, and judicial organization of Rome. With the end of the reign of Tarquinius Superbus, the last of its hereditary kings, Rome took to itself the republican form of government, with two consuls, elected for one year, and a dictator elected in difficult times to wield unlimited power. The dictatorship and the oligarchy led naturally to the monarchy, of which Julius Caesar was the first acknowledged exponent. Under the emperors, although the Roman power materially extended, Roman history is no longer that of the city of Rome, notwithstanding the fact that it was not until Caracalla’s reign in 211 that Roman citizenship was accorded to all free subjects of the Empire.

According to ancient tradition, Saint Peter first came to Rome in 42, although Saint Barnabas is also given as its first evangelist, and at the arrival of Saint Paul (c.60) the Christians had become numerous. The systematic and continued persecutions began under Nero (c.64) but the Church continued to grow so that even after the fury of the Decian persecution, c.250, the city numbered about 50,000 Christians. Heresies, too, appeared here, even at this early period; Arianism alone, however, disturbed the religious peace of the era. With the Vandal invasion of 456, although the destruction of Rome did not then begin, there ensued a long period of incessant attacks upon the waning power of the Empire, principally by Goths and Lombards, the ancient Senate and the Roman nobility having finally become extinct with the Byzantine occupation of 552. After the coronation of Charlemagne in 800, though the pope was master at Rome, the power of the sword was wielded by the imperial missi. Thus the government was divided. Later, in the 10th century, the temporal power of the pope, threatened by the decline of the Carlovingian dynasty, became a cause of war in the friction between papacy and empire. With the absence of the popes from the city in the 14th century a tenure of anarchy set in which, during a comparatively brief period, disrupted the fragile pretense of civilization. After the Schism of the West, the real rebirth of Rome began with Martin V, the patronage of letters and of arts, however, soon degenerating into a license and luxury which was followed by the sack of 1527. With the ending of the pontificate of Pope Pius VI came the proclamation of the Republic of Rome, 1798, and the pope’s exile. Pope Pius VII was able to return, but after 1806 there was a French government at Rome, as well as the papal, and in 1809 the city was incorporated into the empire. After the coronation of Pope Pius IX the Constituent Assembly in February 1849 declared the papal power abolished, and hatred against the Church culminated in the massacre of defenseless priests and the wrecking of churches, until the restoration of the papal power by the French in August 1849. Garibaldi invaded the Papal States in 1867, although it was not until 1870 that Rome was taken from the popes and made the capital of the Kingdom of Italy. By a treaty between the Italian Government and the Vatican on 11 February 1929, the full and independent sovereignty of the Holy See in the City of the Vatican was recognized.

The non-religious buildings of Rome include the Palace of the Cancelleria and the Curia of Pope Innocent X, now occupied by the Italian Government. The principal ancient edifices include the Flavian Amphitheater or Coliseum, the Arch of Constantine, the Circus Maximus, Trajan‘s Column, and the Mausoleum of Augustus. The most notable museums are the Vatican, Lateran, Capitoline, Borghese, and the National Galleries. The diocese comprises 66 parishes, 56 in the city and 10 in the suburbs, with 362 churches and chapels and 550 secular priests; also the four great basilicas: Saint John Lateran, Saint Peter’s, Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls, and Saint Mary Major. The patriarchal basilica of Saint Lawrence Outside the Walls, and the ten minor basilicas: San Croce in Gerusalemme; Saint Sebastian Outside the Walls; San Maria in Trastevere; San Lorenzo in Damaso; San Maria in Cosmedin; Santi Apostoli; San Pietro in Vincoli; San Maria Regina Caeli in Monte Santo; San Maria degli Angeli; Sacred Heart, at the Castro Pretorio. Other interesting churches are the Gesti, a 16th-century church; San Maria Sopra Minerva, the only authentic Gothic church in Rome; San Cecilia, a very ancient church, standing on the site of the saint’s home; San Salvatore della Scala Santa, containing the stairs of Pilate’s praetorium. The institutes of public charity are all consolidated in the Congregazione di Carita. For ecclesiastical instruction there are, besides the various Italian and foreign colleges, three great ecclesiastical universities: the Gregorian, under the Jesuits; the schools of the Roman Seminary; and the Collegio Angelico of the Dominicans. The University of Rome, established in 1303, is now under control of the Italian Government.

Suffragen dioceses include

  • Albano (Suburbicarian See)
  • Anagni-Alatri
  • Civita Castellana (, Orte, Gallese, Nepi e Sutri)
  • Civitaveccia-Tarquinia
  • Frascati (Suburbicarian See)
  • Frosinone-Veroli-Ferentino
  • Gaeta
  • Latina-Terracina-Sezze-Priverno
  • Montecassino (Territorial Abbey)
  • Palestrina (Suburbicarian See)
  • Porto-Santa Rufina (Suburbicarian See)
  • Rieti (-S. Salvatore Maggiore)
  • Sabina-Poggio Mirteto (Suburbicarian See)
  • Santa Maria di Grottaferrata (Territorial Abbey)
  • Sora-Aquino-Pontecorvo
  • Subiaco (Territorial Abbey)
  • Tivoli
  • Velletri-Segni (Suburbicarian See)
  • Viterbo

See also