Saturday, November 9, 2013
Archbishop Annibale “Bugsy” Bugnini
Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, Titular Archbishop of Diocletiana, 1972-1982.
Annibale is the Italian name for “Hannibal”, the Carthaginian general who was the hero of the Second Punic War (213-208 BC) and the fiercest enemy of ancient Rome. (1)
Bugnini was the titular (2) archbishop of Diocletiana (3), a name from history that should strike fear into the heart of Christians. The persecution of the Roman emperor Diocletian (4) was the last of the Christian persecutions in ancient times and was known as “the Great Persecution” due to its ferocity.
(1) Hannibal was a famed military strategist who brilliantly marched his army, which included war elephants, from Spain over the Pyrenees and the Alps into Italy in the campaign against Rome and occupied most of Italy for 15 years. He was defeated by Scipio Africanus in the Battle of Zama in 202 BC using many of the strategies that the Romans had learned from him. The ancient city of Carthage (near modern day Tunis) was known for its idolatrous religion of child sacrifice.
(2) Titular dioceses are those ancient dioceses which had fallen into the hands of infidels (in partibus infidelium) and which no longer constitute an actual physical diocese governed by a resident bishop. The names of these essentially vacant dioceses are only used as titles, hence the term “titular”, for certain prelates who are appointed bishops or archbishops without an actual diocese to govern, i.e., vicars Apostolic, auxiliary bishops, administrators Apostolic, nuncios, Apostolic delegates.
(3) The ancient diocese of Diocletiana was in the Roman province of Dardania, modern day Macedonia, and generally encompassed the modern city of Skopje.
(4) Though not the first Roman Emperor to persecute Christians (e.g., Nero, Decius, Valerian) Diocletian (r. 284-305) styled himself a “religious reformer” over against the rising influence of Christians in the Roman Empire. He sought to reestablish the old pagan religion and worship in the Empire. He first purged the military of Christians and then beginning in A.D. 303 issued a series of decrees outlawing Christianity, effectively forcing Christians into idolatrous worship, for which the penalty of refusal was jail, destruction of Scriptures and churches, confiscation of property, torture, and death. The persecution was the last and most severe persecution in the Roman Empire against Christians and is known as “the Great Persecution” in history books. It was only effectively ended by the “Edict of Milan” in A.D. 313 and the ascension of Constantine who legalized and authorized Christianity for the whole of the Roman Empire.