Patriarchs in the Lombard domain at Cormòns and Forum Iulii

In 606 at Grado two patriarchs were elected, who started a double series of bishops. In 628 Fortunatus I moved to Cormòns under Lombard protection.

The double election, which in 606 took place at Grado – the see of the Church of Aquileia in the lagoon – due to the two opponent factions in favour or against the Schism of the three Chapters, did not only start a double series of bishops, but it also brought the Aquileian bishops to move again on the inland under Lombard protection. The Cronica de singulis patriarchis nove Aquileie (11th century) documents that before February 628 patriarch Fortunatus I had fled from Grado to Cormòns, in Lombard territory, not far from Forum Iulii, the capital of the duchy. For a hundred-fifty years the fortress on the hill of Cormòns was the residence of the patriarchs of Aquileia. In the defensive system, as a matter of fact, the hill of Cormons was the hub of the middle-east arimanniae, close to the Lombard chief-town, along the river Judrio flow, in the place where the road leading to the Isonzo river met the road that led from Aquileia up to Forum Iulii. Thus this was the second step of an approaching process towards the Lombard world by the schismatic patriarchs, who ever since moved towards the centre of the Foroiuliensis duchy. It was the schismatic clergy of Aquileia who converted the Arian Lombards to the Chalcedonian Catholicism.
The split between the two prelates of Aquileian tradition, the Catholic being in Grado and the schismatic in Cormons, remained sharp. An evidence thereof can be seen in pope Gregory II’s intervention, on 1st December 723, who admonished Serenus, ‘Foroiuliensium episcopus’, not to bother the territory of the Church of Grado by passing over the borders of the Lombard lands. Relative warning was given to the bishops and people of ‘Venetia’ so that they kept watch over possible trespassing. The pope also remarked the difference of titles of the two prelates: on the one hand the episcopus Foroiuliensium, and the Gradensis patriarch, on the other. Moreover Gregory confirmed the authority of the see of Grado even with respect to the dioceses in Istria.
The burst of the iconoclastic crisis between Rome and Byzantium led to the offer of a support to the pope by king Liutprand (712-744), in whose esteem an agreement with Rome was becoming one of the cardinal points of his politics, above all in view of the weakening of the imperial presence in Italy. Meanwhile the duke of Friuli, Pemmo [Pemmone] – father of the future king Ratchis – took the initiative to host at Cividale the bishop of Iulium Carnicum, Fidentius, who after escaping from a Slavic invasion moved the see of his diocese to Cividale. This was the establishment of a ducal bishop, despite canonical traditions and the opinion of the patriarch of Aquileia. The cathedral and the baptistery in front of it are evidences of the Episcopal see at Cividale. Yet the decision of Pemmo [Pemmone] was cause of a serious dispute with the Aquileian patriarch Callistus [Callisto] who was supported by king Liutprand. The patriarch deemed it unbecoming that a suffragan had his see in the capital of the duchy while the metropolitan resided in the small fortress of Cormòns. So he got Amator, Fidentius’ successor, expelled, and in 737 he took over his residence in Cividale. Pemmo did not accept the patriarch’s resolutions and proceeded against Callistus [Callisto] and took him prisoner to the castle of Duino. Then Liutprand took part in the struggle and, irritated against the duke, deprived him of his title which he granted to his older son, Ratchis, duke from 744 to 749. Callistus [Callisto] was patriarch from 726 to 756, a period that coincides with the last Lombard age and the most splendid time for the city. The patriarch and Anselm, duke from 749 to 751, started the golden age for the renaissance of culture and arts in the Friulian chief-town. The works for revamping the patriarchal palace and building the baptistery, as well as decorative embellishments, were wishes of Callistus [Callisto] to give prominence to his new see.

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