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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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Archdiocese of Agra

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Archdiocese of Agra
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Archdiocese of Agra covers 14 civil districts of northern India's Uttar Pradesh state and two districts of neighboring Rajasthan. It is spread over an area of 49,162 square kilometers. Agra city is just 200 kilometers south of New Delhi. The region plays an important role in tourism, culture, agriculture, politics, industry and education.

One of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal, is situated in Agra.

Language

Hindi, Urdu and English.

History

Wishing to have some learned Christian priests in his court, the great Muslim Emperor Akbar invited the Jesuits from their college in Goa. Thus the first mission in the Mughal empire started in 1580 in Fatehpur Sikri, near Agra. Though the Jesuits enjoyed the patronage of Emperor Akbar and his son Jahangir, this did not continue during the reigns of Shah Jehan and Aurangazeb. When the Society of Jesus was suppressed in 1773, two Carmelite priests from Bombay took over the mission. After a short while they were replaced by the Capuchins, whose mission in Agra was linked with their mission in Tibet. By that time the apostolic vicariate of the Great Mughal had been erected, from which the Hindustan Mission was created. The mission was elevated to the apostolic vicariate of Tibet-Hindustan in 1820, and the name was changed to the apostolic vicariate of Agra in 1846. Agra became an archdiocese in 1886, when the Catholic Hierarchy of India was established.

Many dioceses in northern India were separated off from Agra, which has come to be called the mother diocese of North India.

Close to the cathedral lies Akbar's Church (1598), the first church to be built in Agra. Jesuit missionaries built it with assistance from Muslim Emperor Akbar, and it remained the cathedral until 1848. Emperors Akbar and Jahangir came to pray here. In 1610 the three royal princes, the nephews of Emperor Jahangir, were baptized here by Jesuit Fathers Corsi and Xavier. Begum Johana Sumroo, the Begum of Sardhana in Meerut diocese, was also baptized here.

Another historical monument in the archdiocese is the Martyrs' Cemetery. The land was freely given by Emperor Jahangir in 1604. Besides many Christian martyrs, well-known persons who died in various parts of India were buried here. The government of India cares for it as a protected monument. Italian Jerome Veroneo, the supposed architect of the world famous Taj Mahal, who died in 1640 at Lahore (presently in Pakistan), is buried here. The tomb of saintly Italian Father Mark Anthony Santucci, who was buried here in 1686, attracts non-Christian devotees.

Economy

People generally depend on agriculture. Rice, sugar cane, millet, wheat and barley are the main product.

Education

One area of the archdiocese is entrusted to the care of the priests of Changanacherry diocese in Kerala. The archdiocese runs many schools. The famous Aligarh Muslim University is situated in the area.

Religion

Besides Hindus, a large number of Muslims live in the diocesan territory. Vrindavan in Mathura is considered the birthplace of Krishna, an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, and attracts many devotees. Besides the many temples, more than 80 fairs take place here.

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