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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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Diocese of Hanzhong

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Diocese of Hanzhong
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In a land area of 27,246 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers Hanzhong city, a district and six counties. Hanzhong in western Shaanxi province is 1,120 kilometers southwest of Beijing and about 180 kilometers southwest from Xi'an, the provincial capital.

Population

The population of Hanzhong is 3,740,000 in 2005. (The population of the whole country is about 1.3 billion). Most residents are ethnic groups of Han, Manchu, Hui, Mongolian, and Tibetan.

History

What is now the Diocese of Hanzhong was established on Aug. 2, 1887, from the Vicariate Apostolic of Southern Shensi after the Vicariate of Shensi was split on July 6, 1887, into a Vicariate Apostolic of Northern Shensi and a Vicariate Apostolic of Southern Shensi. The Vicariate Apostolic of Southern Shensi was elevated to the Vicariate Apostolic of Hanchung [Hanzhong] on Dec. 3, 1924. On April 11, 1946, the Vicariate was elevated to Diocese of Hanchung [Hanzhong].

Before 1949, the founding of the People's Republic of China, there were 76 Italian priests and some 20 foreign nuns serving in the diocese. St. Joseph's Seminary of Hanzhong nurtured 35 native priests and some 40 native nuns, forming a strong team in pastoral work, education, medical and charitable services.

After the political turmoil in 1950s and the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), Church activities in Hanzhong gradually revived since 1980. As of 2005, the diocese has trained 33 priests and seven seminarians as well as restored and built 22 churches.

Diocesan management, pastoral and evangelistic work have achieved progress in recent years. The diocese currently has some 20,000 Catholics and the number of new Baptisms from 2004-05 was 500.

Climate

From north to south, the climate belongs to semi-dry monsoon temperate zone, semi-wet and semi-dry monsoon warm temperate zone and moist monsoon sub-tropical zone respectively. Annual temperature and precipitation varies greatly with regions. The average temperature is 14.3 degrees Celsius and annual precipitation is 871.8 mm.

Economy

Hanzhong industrial base of aircraft and machinery-making are part of the industrial structure. The industrial structures of biology, engineering, medicine, chemical, paper-making, instrument, machinery tools have initially formed. Further, Hanzhong is a major agricultural and trade center.

Topography

Hanzhong is located in the southwestern part of the Shaanxi province, in the center of the Hanzhong Basin, on the Han River, near the Sichuan border. Hanzhong lies 500 meters above sea level.

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