« Mocovi Indians Modena Modernism »




Located in central Italy, between the rivers Secchia and Panaro. The city contains many fine buildings. The Romanesque cathedral, begun in 1099, consecrated by Lucius III in 1184, bears on its interior façade scenes from the Old and from the New Testament sculptured in white marble, and the high altar possesses a Purification by Guido Reni; the inlaid work of the choir, by the Lendinara brothers (1465), is very beautiful; in the belfry, called the Ghirlandina, is kept the famous wooden pail taken from the Bolognese after the battle of Zappolino (1325); this pail is the subject of the heroic-comic epic of Tassoni, "La Secchia Rapita"; the pulpit is a noteworthy work of Arrigo del Campione. Notable churches of Modena are San Agostino, which contains the tombs of the historians Sigonius and Muratori; San Pietro, with its beautiful specimens of the art of Giambellini, Dossi, and Francia; San Stefano della Pomposa, of which Muratori was provost, and others, all rich in works of art. The magnificent Ducal palace, built in 1635 by Duke Francesco I, according to the plans of Avanzini, besides a valuable gallery of pictures, contains frescos by Franceschini, Tintoretto, Dossi, and others, and a library with more than three thousand manuscripts. The Royal, Communal, and Capitular archives possess many important documents. The university was founded by Duke Francesco III in 1738, but Modena, as early as 1182, had a studium generale which rivalled that of Bologna. The citadel, pentagonal in shape, dates from 1635; its walls and bastions were transformed into a public promenade in 1816. There has been a military school for infantry and for cavalry in the royal palace of Modena since 1859; it was established by the last duke, Francesco V. The various beneficent institutions of this city are united in the Opera Pia Generale.

At the time of the Gallic War, Mutina, the Latin name of Modena, was already in the power of the Romans, who were besieged there in 223 B. C. A Roman colony was taken from Modena, 234 B. C., and a decade later, the town was in the power of the Ligurians for a year. It was there, also, that Spartacus defeated the consul Cassius in 71 B. C. The famous bellum Mutinense (42 B.C.) decided the fate of the republic at Rome. During the Empire Modena was one of the most prosperous cities in Italy, but in the war between Constantine and Maxentius, the city was besieged, and fell into great decadence until 698, when it was revived by King Cunibert.

Charlemagne made it the capital of a line counts, whose authority, however, was before long eclipsed by that of the bishops, one of whom, St. Lodoinus, in 897 surrounded the city with walls, to protect it against Hungarian incursions, while Bishop Ingone was formally invested with the title of count by Emperor Conrad I. Later, Modena was a possession of the Countess Matilda, after whose death (1115) the city became a free commune, and in time joined the Lombard League against Barbarossa. In the stuggle between the popes and Frederick II Modena was Ghibelline, and in conflict with the Guelph cities; nevertheless, it harboured a strong Guelph party, under the leadership of the Aigoni family, while the Ghibellines were led by the Grasolfi. In 1288, to put an end to internal dissensions, Modena gave its allegiance to Obizzo II of Este, Lord of Ferrara, who also became master of Reggio in 1291. After the death of his son Azzo VIII (1308), Modena became free again, but lost a part of its territory. On the arrival of Henry VII, the town received an imperial vicar; in 1317, it welcomed a pontifical legate, choosing later for its lord John of Bohemia, while, in 1336, it was ceded by Manfredo Pio of Carpi to Obizzo III of Este and Ferrara in whose family it remained until 1859. Among his successors were Nicolò III, who recovered Reggio and the Garfagnana for Modena. Borso, a natural son of Nicolò III, received the title of Duke of Modena from the emperor in 1452, and later that of Duke of Ferrara, from Paul II. In the sixteenth century, in the palace of the Grillenzoni family, there flourished an academy of letters. The city submitted to Julius II in 1510, but was restored to the Duke of Parma in 1530 by Charles V at the death of Alfonso II; however, in 1597 Ferrara returned to immediate dependency upon the Holy See, but Modena, with Reggio and its other lands, as a fief of the Empire, passed to Cesare, cousin of Alfonso II.

From that time a new era began for Modena, henceforth the home of a court devoted to the arts and letters, and solicitous for the public weal. The son of Cesare, Alfonso III, after a reign of only one year (1529), became a Capuchin monk in the convent of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, founded by him, and died in 1614. Alfonso IV, in 1662, was succeeded by the young Francesco II, whose regents were his mother Laura and his great-uncle Cardinal Rinaldo. He built the Ducal Palace and the citadel and added Coreggio to his territory. As Francesco II died without progeny (1658), Modena came into the possession of his uncle Rinaldo, a cardinal also, who married Carlotta of Brunswick, and after a reign frequently troubled by French incursions, left the ducal throne to his son Francesco III in 1737, when the latter was fighting against the Turks in Hungary. Francesco III also governed Milan for Maria Theresa. Ercole III, who by his marriage acquired the duchy of Massa and Carrara, succeeded to that of Modena in 1780, and at the approach of Napoleon, sought refuge at Venice. Modena became the capital of the Cispadan, united later to the Cisalpine republic, and eventually was incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy. In 1803 Ercole received, as compensation for the loss of Modena, Breisgau and Ortenau. His daughter and only child, Maria Beatrice, married the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, and their son Francesco IV, in 1814 received the Duchy of Modena, while Maria Beatrice governed Massa and Carrara until her death. In 1831 occurred the famous conspiracy of Ciro Menotti on the night of the third and fourth of February; it was discovered, and Menotti was imprisoned, taken to Milan by the duke, who had been constrained to flee to that city by the revolt of Bologna, and was hanged on 16 May, after the duke's return to Modena. In 1846 Francesco V succeeded to the duchy, and in the troubles of 1848 was compelled to seek refuge in Austria, but returned in the following year. In 1859, however, having declared for Austria, he was again obliged to leave his states, and the provisional government, under Carlo Farini, decreed the annexation of Modena to the Kingdom of Italy.

Among the famous men of Modena are the astronomer Geminiano Montanari, the anatomist Gabriele Falloppio, the great Austrian general Montecucoli, Cardinal Savoleto, Sigonius, Muratori, Tiraboschi, and the poet Tassoni. According to local tradition, the first Bishop of Modena was St. Cletus -- probably sent there by Pope Dionysius about 270. After him, there is mention of another bishop, Antonius or Antoninus, to whom reference is made in the life of St. Geminianus his predecessor; this great bishop and protector of the city sheltered in 334 St. Athanasius and died in 349. Other bishops of Modena were St. Theodulus (about 398), formerly a notarius or secretary of St. Ambrose; St. Geminianus II (III according to Cappelletti) who is said to have induced Attila to spare Modena (452); St. Lupicinus (749); in whose time the famous abbey of Nonantola was founded by Duke Anselm of Friuli; and Ægidius (1097), who began the construction of the cathedral. In 1148 the Diocese of Modena was suppressed for a time on account of discord with the Abbots of Nonantola. William, bishop in 1221, frequently served the popes, Honorius III and Gregory IX, as legate, especially among the Prussians, the Livonians, the Esthonians, etc.; eventually he resigned his see to devote himself to the conversion of those peoples (cf. Balan, "Sulle legazioni compiute nei palsi nordici da Guglielmo vescovo di Modena," ibid, 1872). Bonadaneo Boschetti, bishop in 1311, was driven from his diocese by the Ghibellines; Nicolò Boiardo (1401) did much for ecclesiastical discipline; Nicolò Sandonnino (1479) was pontifical legate in Spain; Giovanni Morone (1529) founded the seminary, and is famous for missions on which he was sent to Germany in the beginnings of Lutheranism. Under him, through the "Accademia", Protestantism obtained a footing in Modena, and was eradicated with difficulty; Ægidio Foscarari (1550), to whom the Council of Trent entrusted the correction of the Roman Missal and the preparation of its Catechism for Parish Priests; Roberto Fontana (1646) and Giuseppe M. Folignano (1757) both restorers of the episcopal palace, while the second did much for the endowment of the seminary.

In 1821 the Abbey of Nonantola, a prælatura nullius dioeceseos, was united to the Diocese of Modena; and the latter, a suffragan of Milan until 1852, was then raised to the dignity of a metropolitan see, with Carpi, Guastalla, Massa, and Reggio Emilia for its suffragans. The Abbey of Nonantola was famous, once, as a center of discipline and ecclesiastical learning, and through it a great impetus was given to agriculture in the surrounding country. Politically, Nonantola entered into an alliance with Bologna to preserve its independence, especially against Modena, but like the latter it became a possession of the house of Este in 1411. Until 1449 the administration of Nonantola was confided to commendatory abbots, one of whom was St. Charles Borromeo. The literary treasures of the abbey gradually found their way into the various libraries of Italy.

The Archdiocese of Modena, with Nonantola, contains 179 parishes, in which there are 220,400 faithful, with 455 secular and 50 regular priests; 8 religious houses of men, and 13 of women; 5 schools for boys and 7 for girls; 60 seminarians; 450 churches or chapels.


At the end of the twelfth century there existed at Modena in Italy, a flourishing school of jurisprudence. Pilius, who established himself there as a teacher in 1182, compares its renown to that of Bologna. During the whole of the thirteenth century professors of great repute taught there, with only a brief interruption between 1222 and 1232, though even during that interval Albertus Papiensis and Hubertus de Bonaccursis still lectured. Other famous professors of this period were Martinus de Fano, Guilelmus Durantis, Albertus Galeottus, Guido de Suzaria, Nicolaus Matarellus, and, probably, Bonifacius a Mutina, who afterwards became Bishop of Modena (1337) and of Bergamo (1340). In the fourteenth century the Studium fell into decay, in spite of the efforts which the commune of Modena put forth to maintain it. A communal enactment provided, in 1328, that three professors -- one each for law, medicine, and the training of notaries -- were to be engaged by contract every year; this statute is the only extant documentary evidence that medicine as well as law was taught at Modena, and the Modenese School was never called a Studium Generale. Its decay was hastened, not only by political vicissitudes, but by the creation of other universities in the neighbouring states. With the restitution of Ferrara to the Papal States (1597), Modena became the capital of the House of Este, and once more there was a possibility of reviving the extinct Studium. This was not realized, however, until a century later (1678).

This new university, which owed much to the priest Cristoforo Borghi, was joined to the college (convitto) of the Congregation of St. Charles. It was inaugurated in 1683 by Duke Francis II. In 1772, Francis III increased the number of chairs, took steps to secure able professors, and endowed it with the property of the suppressed Society of Jesus. His most important service was the drafting of a constitution for the university. With the French invasion of 1796 the University of Modena was reduced to the rank of a lyceum, and in 1809 nothing remained of it but the faculty of philosophy. When Francis IV recovered his throne (1815) he restored the university, but the disturbances of 1821 caused him to modify its organization by distributing the students in various convitti scattered through his states. In 1848, however, the earlier organization was revived. In 1859 the provisional Government suppressed the theological faculty, and in 1862 the courses in philosophy and literature disappeared. The university now has faculties of jurisprudence, medicine, surgery, science (mathematics, natural sciences, and chemistry), schools of pharmacy, of veterinary medicine, and of obstetrics.

It numbers 51 instructors with 12 assistants, who treat 95 different subjects; the attendance in 1908, was 431; in 1909, 422. Annexed to the university are the museum of experimental physics, founded, in 1760, by Fra Mario Morini; the chemical laboratory and cabinet founded by Michele Rosa; the museum of natural history founded, in 1786, by a bequest of Giuseppe M. Fogliani, Bishop of Modena; the museum of anatomy founded by Torti in 1698, and Ant. Scarpa in 1774; the cabinet of materia medica founded in 1773 by Gius. M. Savanti; the laboratories of pathological anatomy, experimental physics, and pharmaceutical chemistry; the botanical garden founded by Francis III in 1765; an observatory, a veterinary institute and museum, clinics, and a library. Besides those already mentioned, the following professors of this university have attained high distinction: Virginio Natta, O.P., O. Gherli, O.P., Scozia (afterwards minister to Francis IV), Girolamo Tiraboschi (historian of Italian letters), Agostino Paradisi, Guiliano Cassiani, Padre Pompilio Pozzetti, the Abbate Spallanzani, Bonaventura Curti, G. B. Venturi, Bernardino Ramazzini (seventeenth century), Gio. Cinelli, Luigi Emiliani, Paolo Gaddi, and the later deceased Galvagni.

ARCHDIOCESE: CAPPELLETTI, Le Chiese d'Italia, XV; TIRABOSCHI, Memorie storiche modenesi (Modena, 1793-94); IDEM, Storia della Badia di Nonantola (Modena, 1784); also Biblioteca modenese (1781-86); BARALDI, Compendio storia della città di Modena (Modena, 1846); SCHARFENBERG, Geschichte der Herzogtümer Modena und Ferrara (Mainz, 1859); SANDONINI, Modena sotto il governo dei papi (Modena, 1879); Monumenti di storia patria per le provincie modenesi (Parma, 1861--).

UNIVERSITY: VACCA, Cenno storica della R. Università di Modena (Modena, 1872); Annuario della R. Univ. di Modena (Modena, 1865); CAMPORI, Informazioni della R. Univ. di Modena (Modena, 1861); Notizie storiche circa l'Univ. di M. in Opuscoli religiosi, letterari e morali (July, August, 1863); DENIFLE, Die Universitäten des Mittelalters bis 1400, I (Berlin, 1885), 296 sqq.


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