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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 Ernakulam-Angamaly

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Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly
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In a land area of 1,500 square kilometers, the archdiocesan territory covers the entire civil district of Ernakulam and portions of Trichur, Kottayam and Alappuzha in Kerala state, with 94,807 Catholic families.

Population

In the archdiocese, the population was 4,785,000 at end of 2016. Most residents are Hindus, followed by Muslims. Syro-Malabar Catholics constitute only 10.84 percent.

Language

Malayalam and English are used.

History

The Syro-Malabar Church was known as the Church of the St. Thomas Christians until the 18th century as it was founded by St Thomas, one of the apostles of Christ. St. Thomas came to India in 52 A.D. He died as a martyr in Mylapore near the present town of Chennai (Madras).

As it existed outside the Roman Empire, the Church of the St. Thomas Christians had little contact with Roman or the other Churches within the empire. Its communion with the Church of Rome was through the Church in the Persian Empire, which later came to be known as the East Syrian or Chaldean or Babylonian Church. It is believed that Christianity in the Persian Empire was introduced by the disciples of St. Thomas. It seems that Christians in India had contact with these Christians of the Persian Empire from very early times. Given the commercial relations of India in those days, such a contact was possible.

For some unknown reasons, at least from the 8th century until the end of the 16th century, the bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church were sent from the East Syrian Church, appointed by the patriarch of the East Syrian Church. There is a tradition which says that there were Indian bishops in the beginning, but there is little proof.

Because of the Portuguese colonization of parts of India in the early 16th century and consequent ecclesiastical arrangements, from 1600 onward, European bishops from the Latin-rite Church reached India.

Political

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) heads the current government in Kerala state. Congress Party and pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party are also active.

Transportation

The archdiocese has road, rail and air links. Cochin International Airport is only 30 kilometers north of the archbishop's house.

Geography

In a land area of 1,500 square kilometers, the archdiocesan territory covers the entire civil district of Ernakulam and portions of Trichur, Kottayam and Alappuzha in Kerala state, with 94,807 Catholic families.

Economy

Ernakulam is the business hub of Kerala. IT, fertilizer and tyre industries several SMEs are housed in the diocese.

Telecommunication

There are well developed telecommunication networks in the archdiocese. Four television channels broadcast from Ernakulam.

Education

The literacy rate in the territory is almost 100 percent.

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