Roman Catholic Diocese of Imola

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Imola (Diocesis Imolensis in Latin) is a territory in Romagna, northern Italy. It is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Bologna. Current bishop is Tommaso Ghirelli. It is noted historically for having a number of its bishops being elected to the Papacy.


The Christian origins of Imola are obscure. The episcopal see certainly antedates St. Ambrose, who sede vacante ordered the Bishop of Vigorenza to visit the church of Imola and provide for the election of a pastor. The martyrdom of Saint Cassian is likewise certain, being described by Prudentius from pictures seen by him in the cathedral of Imola.

In 435 Emperor Valentinian III built the church of S. Maria in Arenula. The bishop then was St. Cornelius, whose deacon was made Bishop of Ravenna by Sixtus III and is known as St. Peter Chrysologus. His successor was Projectus, at whose ordination Chrysologus pronounced a magnificent eulogy of St. Cornelius. Chrysologus himself was buried at Imola. His tombstone, discovered in 1698, was a rude block on which was written PETRUS. Of the gifts of St. Peter Chrysologus to the church of Imola there is still preserved a paten, with the figure of a lamb on an altar, surrounded by the metrical legend Quem plebs tunc cara crucis agnum fixit in ara. Hostia fit gentis primi pro labe parentis. These leonine verses, however, indicate a much more recent date.

Other bishops worthy of mention are: John (946), who restored the cathedral and embellished the tomb of St. Peter Chrysologus; Blessed Basil (1063); Ridolfo (1146) and Enrico (1174), who suffered for their adherence to Pope Alexander III, Enrico laid the foundations of the present cathedral, finished in 1271 under Bishop Sinibaldo; Pietro Ondedei (1416), a distinguished canonist and theologian; the Dominican Gaspare Sighigelli (1450), learned and saintly; Girolamo Dandini (1546), formerly nuncio at Paris, founder of an orphan asylum; Francesco Guarini (1566), the founder of the seminary; Cardinal Fabio Chigi (1652), afterwards Pope Alexander VII; Cardinal Filippo Antonio Gualterio (1702), founder of a mone frumentario to supply the poor peasant with seed; Cardinal Giovanni Carlo Bandi (1752), who rebuilt the cathedral and the basilica of Valentinian; Cardinal Barnaba Chiaramonti (1785), afterwards Pope Pius VII; Cardinal Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti (1832), afterwards Pope Pius IX.

Bishops of Imola since 1728

  • Giuseppe Accoramboni (12 Apr 1728 - 11 Mar 1743)
  • Giovanni Carlo Bandi (20 Mar 1752 - 23 Mar 1784)
  • Barnaba Chiaramonti, O.S.B. (14 Feb 1785 - 8 Mar 1816)
  • Antonio Lamberto Rusconi (8 Mar 1816 - 1 Aug 1825 )
  • Giacomo Giustiniani (13 May 1826 - 16 Dec 1832)
  • Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti (17 Dec 1832 - 16 Jun 1846)
  • Gaetano Baluffi (21 Sep 1846 - 11 Nov 1866 )
  • Vincenzo Moretti (27 Mar 1867 - 27 Oct 1871)
  • Luigi Tesorieri (27 Oct 1871 - )
  • Francesco Baldassarri ( 1901 - 9 Nov 1912 )
  • Paolino Giovanni Tribbioli, O.F.M. Cap. (9 Apr 1913 - 12 May 1956 )
  • Benigno Carrara (12 May 1956 - 1974 )
  • Luigi Dardani (12 Mar 1974 - 19 Jul 1989 )
  • Giuseppe Fabiani (19 Jul 1989 - 18 Oct 2002)
  • Tommaso Ghirelli (18 Oct 2002 - )


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