History of San Severino


See San Severino guide for highlights and historic monuments

In Roman times the village was called "Septempeda", and as such it is mentioned by ancient authors as a thriving “Municipium”. The first mention of a place called San Severino is in a document of 944 AD by Bishop Eudone:

"[...] I, Eodone, Bishop, in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all souls of saints, have built foundations of a church in Castle that is called ‘San Severino’ for the salvation of souls ... " [1].

Transformed into a Municipality around the 12th century, its municipal institutions are mentioned in a document (1177) of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (1122-1190). In the struggles between Empire and Papacy, San Severino consistently sided with the Ghibellines and it sustained a long territorial conflict with neighboring cities (Camerino, Tolentino, Cingoli).

During the 13th century it was enlarged, both by military means and by buying the surrounding castles, increasing its housing stock and creating the current 'Old Town'.

In the fourteenth century San Severino made itself the Lordship of Smeducci, under whom the city had some economic development. After a brief period of domination under Francesco Sforza (1401-1466), the City came under the control of the Church State.

In the 16th century San Severino took the title of city and diocese, and from the 19th century it developed outside the walls in particular, but also the ancient village underwent changes, due to clearing the slums.

Origins of the names Septempeda and San Severino

With regard to the etymology, G. Colucci [2] believes that the city was of Greek origin, founded by Greeks of Sicily, as there appears in some documents a Greek city name of “Septem-pedon”, perhaps so called because it was surrounded by seven hills, as does the first part of name ("Septem" - "seven").

As regards the "pedon" (a proper Greek name), the term refers to various concepts, such as "hamlet", "soil "," land ", “region”, but the same G. Colucci is not entirely sure of the accuracy of this interpretation, although considered very likely. If we accept the interpretation of Colucci as correct we could say that "Setpempeda" could therefore mean a "village between seven hills."

San Severino maintained the name "Septempeda", for a long time and was so named in documents dating from the late 15th century.

As Regards the new name, "San Severino", according to tradition the city was involved in the Gothic War and it was destroyed by Totila, so the inhabitants moved to a safer place on the hill called “Monte Nero” [“Black Mountain”], where they founded a new city and a Cathedral in honour of their patron saint, Saint Severino.

Who was Saint Severino?

Regarding the saint we know little, except that he probably lived in the 6th century AD. According to Colucci, San Severino was born in “Septempeda", but he cited several cases of some scholars of his time, who was hypothesized that San Severino was a native of Camerino, or Hungarian.

It is difficult to determine precise information about this patron saint of “Septempeda”, although contemporary studies seem to confirm the hypothesis of Colucci that San Severino was born in "Septempeda", and he would have been bishop of the City, to which he would have give his name, between 540 and 545 AD.

See the San Severino guide before visiting.

References

1. the document is in Giuseppe Colucci, “Delle Antichità Picene” ["About the Antiquities of Piceno"], Appendix of documents, Document No. II, Fermo, 1790, Volume VIII,  p. III

2. ref 1, p. 31