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Home > Catholic Encyclopedia > M > Archdiocese of Messina

Archdiocese of Messina

(MESSINENSIS)

Located in Sicily. The city is situated, in the shape of an amphitheatre, along the slope of the Hills of Neptune, on an inlet of the sea at the Strait of Messina, which separates Sicily from the peninsula. Its harbour, with its size and fine situation, is one of the most important in Italy after those of Genoa and of Naples. Nevertheless, the hopes entertained for its commerce, in view of the opening of the Suez Canal, were disappointed, for, between 1887 and 1894, the commerce of Messina decreased from 940,000 tons to 350,000 tons; still, in 1908, it grew again to 551,000 tons. The neighbouring seas are rich in coral, molluscs, and fish; and from the mountains are obtained calcic sulphate, alabaster, sulphates of argentiferous lead, antimony, iron, and copper. Messina is said to have been founded by some pirates from Cumæ, a very ancient Greek colony, and to have received from its founders the name of Zancle (sickle) on account of the semicircular shape of the port. In 735 a colony of Messenians was taken there by Gorgos, a son of King Aristomenes, the brave but unfortunate defender of the Messenians against the Spartans. Thereafter, the population of the city was increased by fugitives from Chalcis, Samos, and Eubœa, who had escaped from the Persian invasion; they became preponderant in the town and made it join the Ionian League. In 493 B.C. Anaxilas, tyrant of Rhegium, also a