The origins of Ferentino are ancient and shrouded in myth. One says that it was founded by the god Saturn (Kronos) escaping from Olympus after defeat by his son Jupiter (Zeus). Here he found fertile territory, hence the name Ferentino, and in Lazio he founded many other cities, all characterized by huge (cyclopean) walls, and he spread the arts and crafts.
Ferentino enjoys a unique geographical position, on top of a low hill and is the crossroads of important transport routes: here have been great armies of history, plus many popes and Frederick II have stayed here.
Immediately evangelized to Christianity (perhaps by St. Peter) it quickly it became seat of the diocese and valuable religious buildings were built, like the Cathedral in 1108, on the ruins of an ancient pagan temple, plus an early Christian church, and the Gothic Cistercian Abbey of Santa Maria Maggiore.
For over 300 years, from 1198 to 1557, Ferentino was the capital of the provinces of Campagna and Marittima (i.e. around southern Lazio) thanks to Pope Innocent III, who made it his preferred seat. Many religious orders settled in Ferentino during those years, founding churches and monasteries, among the most active: the Benedictines, Cistercians, Franciscans, the Clarisse, and the Cavalieri Gaudenti.
Ferentino was one of the first Italian free communes, with as early as the twelfth century having its own statutes. Its freedom ended with the siege and destruction by the Spanish troops of the Duke of Alba (1556). It suffered fights between Sanfedisti and Jacobins (1798-1802), the passage of Garibaldi, and finally, the Second World War. In 1944 it was subjected to heavy bombing and became the reception centre for the displaced refugees from the front at Cassino.