San Marino, The Catholic Church in

views updated

SAN MARINO, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN

The Republic of San Marino, independent since the 9th century at least, is one of the smallest and oldest sovereign states in the world. It forms a mountainous enclave entirely surrounded by Italy, and is located near the Adriatic Sea between Emilia and the Marches. Building stone is the country's major natural resource; agricultural products include wheat, grapes, corn, olives and livestock.

Politics and culture in San Marino are closely aligned with those of Italy. Governing power is in the

hands of two Capitani reggenti, elected for six-month terms, and a Congresso di Stato. Legislative authority resides in the Consiglio Grandee Generale with 60 elected members. Administratively the country is divided into nine castelli, or towns. The state has its own coinage and postal system, maintains diplomatic relations with the principal nations and has treaties of friendship and economic agreements with Italy. Agriculture, cattle raising and tourism are the main industries of the Sammarinese, while the sale of postage stamps provides the government's main income. About one-fifth of the inhabitants dwell in the capital, San Marino, located near the summit of Mt. Titano, the region's highest point.

History. According to a 9th-and 10th-century legend, the republic owes its origin to St. Marinus, a Christian stonecutter from the island of Arbe who went there with some companions during Diocletian's persecution, seeking refuge and a place of prayer, after being given Mt. Titano by Felicitas, a wealthy lady from Rimini whom he had converted. Marinus, it is said, received the diaconate from the bishop of Rimini and erected a small monastery, which formed the nucleus of the country's capital. Its official date of inception was celebrated as Sept. 3, 301. St. Marinus was supposed to have bequeathed this territory to his "faithful followers" with the understanding that it remain independent of all outside civil and ecclesiastical authorities. Its inaccessibility and poverty preserved its independence during the barbarian invasions. There is mention of a Castellum Marini as early as 755. San Marino became, sometime after the 11th century, a medieval commune, like northern Italian cities. Its oldest preserved statutes date from 1263. The Pope recognized its independence in 1291. From the 14th to the 16th centuries San Marino became involved in the turbulent political life of the peninsula, but resisted all efforts to incorporate it into the states of the church. The region promulgated its first constitution in October of 1600, and when urban viii annexed the Duchy of Urbino in 1631, he solemnly reconfirmed San Marino's independence. Succeeding popes frequently defended this liberty. Cardinal Giulio alberoni, legate to Romangna,

occupied the republic in 1739, but the citizenry's stout resistance and diplomatic efforts led Clement XII soon to withdraw his claims and sign a treaty of perpetual friendship.

Italy guaranteed San Marino's independence and signed a treaty of friendship with the enclave in 1862; these agreements were reaffirmed in 1948. Throughout the 20th century San Marino's political course mirrored that of Italy: It had a fascist government in the 1930s that was replaced in 1943 by Communists and left-wing Socialist coalition. By 1960 Christian and Social Democrats had gained control. While the republic did not possess its own civil code of laws, in 1878 it promulgated a penal code. All other basic laws continued to derive from its 16th-century constitution, which was based on Roman and canon law. Canon law regulated almost all relations between Church and State, including matrimonial questions, until the 1930s when secularizing influences appeared. A 1939 treaty with Italy permitted Italians to obtain marriage annulments in San Marino that were considered valid in Italy. Civil marriages were recognized beginning in 1952. In 1999, in response to charges that it violated Article 9 of the European Convention, San Marino's Parliamentary oath was altered to exclude reference to the Holy Gospels. However, the traditional oath remained for other offices not under the sway of the European Court. While the Catholic Church was not proclaimed the state religion, it received an allocation of income tax monies. Although there were no Catholic schools, Catholic instruction was provided in all state schools.

San Marino's only remaining medieval monument is the 13th-century church of St. Francis, which underwent several alterations over the centuries, including a transformation of its interior in the 18th century. A much larger basilica in neoclassical style, completed in 1838, replaced the ancient church in the highest part of the town, dedicated to St. Marinus. The small nearby chapel of St. Peter, erected by St. Marinus himself according to tradition, was completely transformed. By 2000 there were 13 parishes tended by 9 diocesan and 19 religious priests. Other religious included approximately two brothers and 23 sisters.

Bibliography: o. guerrieri, La Repubblica di San Marino (Florence 1939). p. aebischer, Essai sur l'histoire de St. Marin des origines à l'an mille (San Marino 1962).

[f. sottocornola/eds.]

About this article

San Marino, The Catholic Church in

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article