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 Alleppey

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Diocese of Alleppey
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The diocese of Alleppey belongs to the Latin rite. It was erected on June 19, 1952, by bifurcating the diocese of Cochin and lies along the Arabian Sea between the dioceses of Cochin and Quilon, covering an area of 333 square kilometers.

However, the ecclesial mission in the area dates back to 1570, when the Jesuit missionaries started to work among the St. Thomas Christians and built their first church, Holy Cross Church in Purakkad. They also built St Andrew's Church in Arthunkal (1581), St. Michael's Church in Kattor (1590) and Holy Cross Church in Kadakkarappally (1620).

A section of the St. Thomas Christians revolted against the Portuguese missionaries, and they left the Catholic Church after the 1653 Coonam Cross Oath. In 1662, St. Thomas Christians of the mission of Arthungal reconciled with Rome. Even after the capture of Cochin by the Dutch, the Jesuits continued to look after Catholics in this area until the 18th century. When the Rome suppressed the Jesuits, the Carmelite missionaries took over their place. The mission remained under the vicariate of Verapoly until the restoration of the Cochin diocese in 1886.

Bishop Michael Arattukulam was the first bishop of Alleppey. Bishop Chenaparambil succeeded him on April 28, 1984. When Bishop Chenaparambil retired on Feb. 11, 2001, Bishop Athipozhiyil assumed office.

Alleppey, also known as Alappuzha, was once described as the Venice of the East. A great commercial port in the past, it had trade relations with ancient Greece and Rome. Today, it is the administrative headquarters of Alappuzha district. The name "Alappuzha" means "the land between the sea and the network of rivers flowing into it."


The total population of the diocesan territory is 815,080. It is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious area. Hindus form the largest community followed by Christians and Muslims.


Malayalam and English are the main languages in use.


The territory is well connected by roads and rail. The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport.


The climate is moist and hot along the coast and slightly cool and dry in the interior of the district. Summers, from March to May, are hot, with temperatures peaking in May at around 34° Celsius. But with the advent of the southwest monsoon, which lasts from June to August, rains lash the area. The northeast monsoon extends from the second half of October through November. The average annual rainfall in the district is 2,763 mm.


As a prominent trading and commercial centre of Kerala, Alleppey is famed for its backwater tourism and coir industry. Kuttanad in Alleppey has been carrying out farming below sea level, the place being the lowest point in India (2.2m below sea level). Its vast paddy fields have helped it earn the name ‘the granary of Kerala’, as ‘boiled rice’ is the staple food of the region. Four major rivers -- Pampa, Meenachil, Achankovil, and Manimala -- have been nourishing the crop fields, a major source of income and livelihood of the people.


The level of telecommunications infrastructure is high. Almost everyone has a mobile phone. Most homes have television, telephone and Internet, although Internet access is limited in rural areas. There are no television broadcasting stations in the territory, but a few radio stations operate.

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