Key to Umbria: Otricoli

History of Otricoli

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Ancient History

See the page on Ancient History.

Early Christianity

Ocriculum probably became a diocese in the late 5th century:

  1. Bishop Herculeus attended the synod in Rome in 487; and

  2. Bishop Constantinus attended the synod in Rome in 499.

(For the historical background, see the page on Umbria under Odoacer and Theodoric ).  

The Dialogues of Pope Gregory I record that St Fulgentius, Bishop of Ocriculum saved the settlement from Totila (presumably in ca. 543).  Two churches in Ocriculum later dedicated as San Vittore and San Fulgenzio were founded at this time.

  1. An inscription (late 6th century) from San Vittore records that St Fulgentius discovered the relics of St Victor in the church and erected an altar over his grave.

  2. Another inscription (late 6th or 7th century) from San Vittore identifies the relics of St Fulgentius,

Both inscriptions are now in Santa Maria Assunta (see below).

Bishop Domenico of Otricoli was recorded at synods held in Rome by Pope Gregory I in 595 and 601.  An inscription (ca. 600) that was found in 1938 in località Civitelle (now in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale delle Marche) might refer to a fifth bishop of Ocriculum.  It reads:

huc(!) propera festine sacram cognoscere legem  ...

aulam qu[a constat?] purgari facta liquore ...

inmersumq(ue) sacris renovatum exsurgere corpus ...

pa[...] locum ...

ad postquam incipiens meruit tua tecta sacerdos ...

luxq(ue) fulg[...]

haec Marcellus ovans linfis(!) haec facta dicavit ...

longoque miran[s ...]   ...

The surviving fragment, which is of the left part of an architrave, preserves part of a poem made up of eight hexameters.  According to Gianfranco Binazzi (referenced below, at p. 9):

  1. “Notwithstanding the lacunae in the text, it seems evident that it refers to a baptistery ... ‘sacerdos’ could stand for ‘episcopus loci’, and thus Marcellus, the person who dedicated it, could be an otherwise undocumented local bishop” (my translation).

The diocese was subsequently absorbed by that of Narni, probably from the time that Roman Ocriculum was abandoned (see below).

Gothic Wars

Ocriculum was badly damaged during Gothic wars.

Later History

Ocriculum was subsequently returned to the original Umbrian site, which was more easily defended and above the swamp that developed because of the continuously changing course of the Tiber. 

The riverine site was abandoned and largely forgotten until Pope Pius VI organised its excavation in 1776-84.

A church was probably built on the site of Santa Maria Assunta soon after the establishment of the new city in the 7th century.

Read more:

G. Binazzi, “Inscriptiones Christianae Italiae: Regio VI; Umbria”, (1989) Bari

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