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?

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Diocese of Jashpur

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Diocese of Jashpur
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The diocesan territory stretches over 4,570 square kilometres and covers the Jashpur civil district of the newly formed Chhattisgarh state in central India. The diocese is in the north-eastern region of Chhattisgarh state with the newly formed Jharkhand state and Orissa state as its neighbours.


In Jashpur diocese, the total population was 885,000 at the end of 2016. Most residents are aboriginals such as Oraons and Kharias. In the towns there are Dalits (former untouchables).


Languages used in the diocese are English, Chhattisgarhi, Hindi, Kharia, Oraon and Sadri.


Until 1905, no Catholic priest was allowed entry into this region by the feudal rulers. Since 1905, there has been a strong movement toward Christianity among the tribal Oraons.

The feudal rulers were unable to crush the movement and thousands of the tribals got baptized from the Belgian Jesuit missioners in neighboring Ranchi diocese.

The priest was allowed to build a hut for himself in 1912 at Ginabahar.

Four missions were later opened with great difficulty. After the nation's independence in 1947, the feudal rulers' states merged into India, and the Indian Constitution provided the tribals with freedom of religion. This helped in the advancement of missionary activities.

Raigarh diocese was erected on Dec. 13, 1951, by the carving up of neighboring Ranchi and Nagpur dioceses.

The civil Jashpur district was bifurcated from Raigarh diocese to form Jashpur diocese on March 24, 2006. Bishop Victor Kindo of Raigarh was transferred to Jashpur as its first bishop.

Jashput diocese has the highest number of Catholics in Chhattisgarh state.

Many Oraon tribals have become Christians and have progressed in life through missioners' social development programs. Many of them hold key positions in the government and non-government agencies.

Due to this, anti-Christian elements are strong in the region, and missioners and Catholics are harassed.


Villagers cultivate mostly paddy, with one crop a year. They also work in government projects. There are many ancient temples and caves in the region.

The Catholic cathedral at Kunkuri is the biggest church in the state.

The phoolon ki ghati (valley of flowers), which is about 15 kilometres away from Jashpur Nagar, is famous for its scenic beauty and flowers. There is also a waterfall about 19 km away from Jashpur Nagar.


38% (male: 51%; female: 25.6%)

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