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Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of Catholicism in the Philippines

“…500 years have passed since the Christian message first arrived in the Philippines. You received the joy of the Gospel... And this joy is evident in your people … We see it in your eyes, on your faces, in your songs and in your prayers. In the joy with which you bring your faith to other lands …”

~ Pope Francis said in his homily of the Mass at the Vatican on March 14, formally opening the yearlong celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of Catholicism’s arrival in the Philippines.

A country of 7,641 islands at the sea of southeast Asia with a population of 109 million, of which more than 10 million are migrants living in almost 100 countries across the world.

Why the Pope calls Filipinos “smugglers of faith”? What makes the local Church so unique?

What is the Catholic population in the country? How many dioceses, bishops are there?

All you need to know about the Church in the Philippines in one click
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Church in Thailand

Capital : Bangkok
Population : 69.42 million
Catholics : 37,9617 (0.55%)
Jurisdictions : Two Archdioceses, Nine Dioceses
Parishes : 502
Major Religions : Buddhism 94.5%, Islam 4.2%, Christianity 0.7%, Hinduism 0.3%, Unaffiliated 0.1%
The predominantly Buddhist nation first came into contact with Christianity when Portuguese mercenaries arrived here in the middle of the 16th century.

The first catholic missioners to arrive in this "land of smiles" were Dominican friars Jeronimo da Cruz and Sebastieo da Canto in 1567. But they were killed in 1569. The Franciscan and Jesuit missioners followed them.

However, the rulers of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries continued to persecute the Christians. That situation stabilized in the beginning of the 20th century when Christians began to enjoy freedom to practice their religion.

American Baptists and Presbyterians arrived in the first half of the 19th century. Other denominations made their presence felt in the 20th century, making Thailand a preferred destination for Christians' meetings and conferences in Asia. Christians in Thailand are noted for their inter-denominational and inter-religious activities.

They are considered as providers of education and healthcare to the poor. European and American missioners are credited with introducing the printing press and a western medical system to the country. Prominent Christian healthcare facilities include Saint Louis Hospital, Bangkok Mission Hospital, Camillian Hospital and Bangkok Christian Hospital.

Christians of all denominations together number some 486,000 in a population of 69.42 million, according to the 2010 government data. Catholics are the biggest group with some 379,617 followers. Christians are concentrated in the northern part of the country.

The country has 11 Catholic Dioceses, including two Archdioceses.
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