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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Archdiocese of Nanjing

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Archdiocese of Nanjing
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In a land area of approximately 75,153 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers all of Jiangsu province except Xuzhou, Nantong and Suzhou. Nanjing diocese has two deaneries, 11 parishes and more than 30 Church mission points.


As of November 2010, the area covers by Nanjing diocese has a population of 56.27 million. 51 of the 56 ethnic groups in the country have descendents residing in Nanjing, with the Han ethnic group being the majority accounting for 98.56 percent.


Mandarin Chinese and Nanjing dialect are in use. Nanjing dialect had long been an official language of the various dynasties in the history of China.


The Vicariate Apostolic of Nanking (Nanjing) was erected from the Diocese of Macau in 1660. It was elevated to Diocese of Nanking in 1690. In 1856, it was elevated to Vicariate Apostolic of Kiangnan in 1856 and the name was changed into Vicariate of Jiangsu in 1921. A year later, its name was changed again into Vicariate Apostolic of Nanking. Father Paul Yu Pin was appointed Apostolic Vicar. It was elevated to Archdiocese of Nanjing in 1946 and Father Yu became the Archbishop.

He was forced to leave China in 1949. Also expelled was Archbishop Antonio Riberi, the papal nuncio based in Nanjing. Bishop Ignatius Gong Pinmei, later bestowed upon the cardinalate in pectore by Pope John Paul II in 1979 (officially, he became a Cardinal in 1991), was named to be the apostolic administrator in 1950. But he was put into prison in 1955 for 33 years.

In 1959, Father Li Weiguang was self-elected and self-ordained without papal mandate as Bishop of Nanjing. In 1966 when the Cultural Revolution began, all religious activities were suspended. It was revived only in 1980, with Vicar General Father Joseph Qian Weimin presiding over the first Mass at the Cathedral on Dec. 25, 1980. In 1982, the open Church authorities redraw boundaries of the dioceses in Jiangsu province. The Prefectures Apostolic of Yangzhou and Haizhou were placed under Nanjing diocese.

Father Qian was the Bishop of Nanjing from 1981-1993. He was succeeded by Bishop Liu Yuanren, who was also the chairman of the Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church in China until he died in 2005. Bishop Liu and the bishops' conference were not recognized by the Vatican.


Located at the subtropical region, Nanjing has a warm and wet climate. The annual precipitation is 1106.5mm while the average temperature of the year is 15.3 degree Celsius. The city is one of the "furnaces" in China as the temperature in summer reaches 40 degree Celsius in July and August.


With an urban population of over 8 million, Nanjing is the second largest commercial center in eastern China, after Shanghai. It has been ranked second in the evaluation of cities with most sustainable development potential in the Yangtze River Delta by the National Statistics Bureau.

Nanjing is an important industrial base of China. Petrochemical, information technology, car manufacturing and steel production are its four pillar industries. Together with industries of mechanical products, textiles, food and beverage industries, new construction materials and biopharmaceutical, there are nine major industries. More 2,000 downstream supporting industries are derived from them.


Nanjing, provincial capital of Jiangsu, is located at the southwest of the province. The downstream of the Yangtze River goes through the province from its southwest and at the southeast lies the river delta.


Nanjing is an ancient city and capital of six dynasties. Its prominence is reflected from its Chinese name "southern capital." Thus, Nanjing has always been a cultural center attracting intellectuals from all over the country. In Tang and Song dynasties, Nanjing was a place where poets gathered and composed poems reminiscent of its luxurious past; during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the city was the official imperial examination center for the Jiangnan region, again acting as a hub where different thoughts and opinions converged and thrived.

Nanjing has one of the best theaters for Kunqu, one of China's oldest stage art. It also has professional opera troupes for the Yang, Yue (shaoxing), Xi and Jing (Chinese opera varieties) as well as Suzhou pingtan, spoken theater, and Puppet Theater.

Nanjing has some of the oldest and finest museums in China. Nanjing Museum, formerly known as National Central Museum under Kuomintang (KMT or the National Party's) rule, is the first modern museum and remains as one of the leading museums in China.

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