Piacenza is a diocese in Emilia, central Italy. The city is situated on the right of the Po, near its junction with the Trebbia, in an important strategic position. Agriculture is the chief industry. The cathedral is of the ninth century; it was remodelled by Santa da Sambuceto and others (1122-1223) in beautiful Lombard style. The campanile, over 216 feet high, is surmounted by an angel, in brass; the cupola is a more recent part of the edifice; there are frescoes by Guercino and by Morazzone, Ludovico Carracci, Procaccino, and others. Its Cappella del Crocifisso has an arch with statues of Nero and of Vespasian ; the Cappella di S. Corrado has an admirable Madonna by Zitto di Tagliasacchi, and contained once a picture of St. Conrad by Lanfranco, but it was taken to France. Among the churches is S. Antonio (fourth century), many times restored; until 877 it was the cathedral ; in 1183 the preliminaries of the Peace of Constance were concluded in this church; here also are paintings by Procaccino, Mulinaretto, Novoloni etc.; the sacristy contains a triptych with the gesta of S. Antonio. In the pastor's residence of S. Andrea there is an ancient mosaic. S. Bartolommeo, formerly a church of the Jesuits, contains besides its beautiful paintings two crucifixes, one very ancient, the other dating from 1601. S. Francesco (1278) has beautiful columns, but has been disfigured by incongruous restorations; it contains a Pietà by Bernardo Castelli, a Madonna by Francia, and the tomb of the famous Franciscan, Francesco Mairone (1477). S. Giovanni in Canali (1220), formerly of the Templars, and later of the Dominicans, has also been disfigured by its restorations; it contains statues of Pius V and Benedict XI, the tomb of the Scotti family and of the physician Gulielmo da Saliceto. S. Savino (903) was restored several times and entirely transformed in the eighteenth century; formerly there was a monastery annexed to it; in its recent restorations, paintings of the fourteenth century were discovered, and also pillars and other sculptures of the original construction, as well as mosaics, a crucifix carved in wood, and other objects. Outside the city the monastery of the Cassinesi Benedictines, S. Sisto, founded in 874 by Queen Angilberga, is a veritable sanctuary of art; the famous Sistine Madonna by Raphael, was first here, but was sold by the monks, to obtain funds for repairs. Santa Maria in Campagna contains a very ancient statue in marble of Our Lady, four statues in wood by Hermann Geernaert, and paintings by Procaccino, Pordenone, Guercino, and others.
The Palazzo Ducale, a work of Vignola (1558), has since 1800 served as a barracks. The Palazzo Anguissola da Grazzano contains fine paintings. The Palazzo Brandini has a gallery of paintings by Correggio, Reni, Guercino, Andrea del Sarto, and Murillo. The Palazzo Landi contains paintings by Van Dyck. The Palazzo Palastrelli has a library of works on the history of Piacenza. Cardinal Alberoni established in this town a famous college. Its church has paintings by Paolo Veronese, Guido Reni, and others. The Piazza de Cavalli has equestrian statues of Alessandro and of Ranuccio I, Farnese, by Mocchi da Montevarchi.
Placentia, with Cremona, was founded in 218 B. C., to hold in check the Gauls after their defeat near Clastidium. The Via Æmilia terminated there. Scipio, defeated near the Trebbia, retreated to this town. In 206 it was besieged in vain by Hasdrubal and burned by the Gauls in 200. There Emperor Otho defeated Vitellius (69) and then Aurelian was defeated by the Alamanni (271); there also Emperor Orestes was decapitated (467). The Lombards took possession of it, at the beginning of their invasion, and thereafter it remained in their power. From the ninth century the temporal power was in the hands of the bishops, until the twelfth century, when the town became a commune, governed by consuls, and later (1188), by a podestà. In the wars between the Lombard cities and with the emperors, Piacenza was an ally of Milan, on account of its hatred of Cremona and of Pavia; wherefore it was Guelph and a party to both of the Lombard leagues. Twice, Uberto Palavicino made himself lord of the city (1254 and 1261), but the free commune was re-established. From 1290 to 1313, Alberto Scotti was lord of Piacenza; his rule had many interruptions, as in 1308, by Guido della Torre of Milan, in 1312, by Henry VII. The latter's vicar, Galeazzo Visconti, was expelled by the pontifical legate Bertrando del Poggetto (1322-35). In 1336 Piacenza came again under the rule of the dukes of Milan ; between 1404 and 1418 they were compelled to retake the city on various occasions. In 1447 there was a new attempt to re-establish independent government. The fortunes of war gave Piacenza to the Holy See in 1512; in 1545 it was united to the new Duchy of Parma. After the assassination of Pier Luigi Farnese, which occurred at Piacenza (1547), the city was occupied by the troops of the imperial governor of Milan and was not restored to the Duchy of Parma for ten years. In 1746 the Austrians obtained a great victory there over the French and Spaniards, and in 1799 the Russians and Austrians defeated the French. Napoleon made Lebrun Duke of Piacenza.
St. Antonius, who is said to have belonged to the Theban Legion, suffered martyrdom at Piacenza, in the second or third century. The first known bishop is St. Victor, present at the Council of Sardica (343); St. Savinus, present at Aquileia (381), was probably the Savinus to whom St. Ambrose wrote several letters. Other bishops were St. Maurus, St. Flavianus, St. Majorianus (451). Whether the emperor of this name intended to become Bishop of Piacenza is uncertain; he was not its bishop, having been killed soon after his abdication. Joannes was a contemporary of St. Gregory the Great ; Thomas (737) was very influential with King Luitprand; Podo (d. 839) was honoured with a metrical epitaph; Guido (904), a man of arms rather than of the Church ; Boso (940) freed himself from the jurisdiction of the metropolitan See of Ravenna (re-established by Gregory V ), and became the antipope John XVI ; Pietro (1031) was exiled to Germany by Conrad II; Dionisio was deposed in 1076 by Gregory VII ; St. Bonizo (1088), who had been Bishop of Sutri and a great supporter of Gregory VII, was killed in 1089; during the incumbency of Aldo (1096), Emilia was temporarily taken from the jurisdiction of Ravenna ; Arduino (1118) founded the new cathedral ; Ugo (1155), a nephew of Anacletus II, was driven from his diocese by the schismatics ; under Ardizzone (1192) and Grumerio (1199) grave contentions began between the clergy and the consuls, and Grumerio was driven from the diocese ; Orlando da Cremona, O.P., was mortally wounded by a Catharist while preaching (1233); P. Alberto Pandoni (1243), an Augustinian; Pietro Filargo (1386) became Pope Alexander V ; Pietro Maineri (1388) was formerly the physician of Galeazzo II; Branda Castiglione (1404) was a professor of law at Pavia, and took part in the conciliabulum of Pisa and in the Council of Constance, and became a cardinal ; Alessio da Siregno (1412) was a famous preacher; Fabrizio Marliani (1476) was very zealous for the reform of morals in the clergy and in the people; Cardinal Scaramuzza Trivulzio (1519); Catalano Trivulzio (1525); Cardinal Giovanni Bernardino Scotti (1559) was a very learned Theatine ; the Bl. Paolo Burali (1570), a Theatine, became a cardinal ; Cardinal Filippo Sega (1578); Alessandro Scappi (1627) was obliged to leave the duchy for having excommunicated the duke, Odoardo; Alessandro Pisani's election (1766) was one of the causes of dissension with the Holy See ; Stefano Fallot de Beaumont (1807) was present at the national council of Paris (1810). Bl. Corrado (d. at Noto in 1351) was from Piacenza. The councils of Piacenza were those of 1076 (concerning the schismatics against Gregory VII ), 1090 ( Urban II against the concubinage of the clergy, and in favour of the crusade ), 1132 ( Innocent II against Anacletus II ). There were ten synods under Bishop Marliani (1476-1508).
In 1582 the diocese was made a suffragan of Bologna; it is now immediately dependent upon the Holy See. It has 350 parishes, with 310,000 inhabitants, 11 religious houses for men, and 29 for women, 5 educational establishments for male students, and 18 for girls, 1 daily paper, and 1 monthly periodical. The diocese has a house of missionaries for emigrants established by the late bishop, Mgr. Scalabrini.
Piacenza was the first Italian city to apply for a Bull erecting its town-schools into a studium generale , which Bull was granted by Innocent IV in 1248, and conferred all the usual privileges of other studia generalia ; by it the power of giving degrees was vested in the Bishop of Piacenza. But no practical work was done here until 1398, when Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan and Pavia, refounded the university in his capacity of Vicar of the Empire. The University of Pavia was suppressed, as he did not wish to have a university in either of his capitals. Gian Galeazzo liberally endowed Piacenza, organizing a university of jurists as well as a university of arts and medicine, each with an independent rector. Between 1398 and 1402 seventy-two salaried professors are recorded as having lectured, including not only the usual professors of theology, law, medicine, philosophy, and grammar, but also the new chairs of astrology, rhetoric, Dante, and Seneca. But this endeavour to establish a large university in a small town which had no natural influx of students was doomed to failure, and little or no work was done after Gian Galeazzo's death in 1402. In 1412 Pavia had its university restored, and the subjects of the duchy were forbidden to study elsewhere. Piacenza then obtained an unenviable notoriety as a market for cheap degrees. This traffic was still flourishing in 1471, though no lectures had been given for sixty years. A college of law and a college of arts and medicine, however, maintained a shadowy existence for many years later. Among the famous teachers at Piacenza may be named the jurist Placentinus, founder of the law-school at Montpellier (d. there 1192); and Baldus (b. 1327), the most famous jurist of his day (Muratori, "Rer. It. SS.", XX, 939).
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