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 Lucknow

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Diocese of Lucknow
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The diocese has a land area of 45,125 square kilometers, covering 10 civil districts -- Bahraich, Balrampur, Barbanki, Gonda, Hardoi, Kheri, Lucknow, Shravasthinagar, Sitapur and Unnao in northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Lucknow is the biggest city in the diocese.


In Lucknow diocese, the population is 22,985,000 at end of 2016.


Hindi, Urdu, Awadhi and English are the main languages used.


The diocese of Lucknow owes its origin to those courageous and selfless missionaries, especially Capuchin Fathers from Italy, who came here 400 years ago. Historical documents prove the existence of European Christian scholars and priests, initially the Jesuits, in the court of Emperor Akbar as early as the 16th century. This Christian presence in the vast Gangetic plain under the umbrella of the "Mughal Mission" and later on the "Tibetan Mission" was the beginning of Christianity in northern India.

There were pockets of Christianity in many places in the empire of Akbar and the later Moghuls, which increased with the advent of the British in India in the subsequent centuries.


On Jan. 12, 1940, the huge diocese of Allahabad was divided to create the Diocese of Lucknow, based in Lucknow, at that time capital of the Central Provinces. Both dioceses were under the care of missionaries from the Bologna Capuchin province in Italy. However, Italy being an ally of Germany in World War II, the British administration interned all these missionaries in camps. Hence the nomination of the first Bishop of Lucknow was delayed until after the war.

Capuchin Father Albert Conrad De Vito was appointed the first Bishop of Lucknow on Dec. 12, 1946, and he took possession of the diocese on Feb. 16, 1947. Bishop Angelo Poli of Allahabad was the administrator of the diocese during the intervening seven years.

The diocese of Lucknow comprised 14 districts of Uttar Pradesh, covering an area of 93,000 square kilometers. On Feb. 4, 1989, this large diocese was divided to form the new diocese of Bareilly, covering six districts.

Bishop Albert Conrad De Vito passed away suddenly in 1970 during a home visit to Italy, and Father Cecil de Sa, Vicar General of Bhopal, was appointed the first Indian Bishop of Lucknow. In 1983, Bishop de Sa was transferred to become Archbishop of Agra, and Bishop Alan de Lastic, Auxiliary Bishop of Calcutta until then, was appointed the new Bishop of Lucknow.

In January 1991, Bishop de Lastic was made Archbishop of Delhi, and Father Albert D'Souza, a priest of Lucknow diocese, was appointed the fourth Bishop of Lucknow. Bishop D'Souza was made Archbishop of Agra in March 2007.

On Nov. 8, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI, transferred Bishop Gerald John Mathias, a priest of Lucknow diocese who had been serving as Bishop of Simla-Chandigarh diocese since 2000, to become the fifth Bishop of Lucknow . He was installed on Jan. 4, 2008.


Cities are managed by corporations. Villages and small towns are administered by panchayat and municipalities, respectively. These local bodies are elected.


The diocesan area is well-connected by roads and railway. Lucknow city has an airport.


Annual per capita income is Rs 16,060 ($356) as of March 2011. Farming is the main occupation with wheat, rice, sugarcane and potatoes the primary crops. The diocesan territory also houses leather industry units.


Government and private operators provide extensive telecommunication facilities in the diocesan area. The diocese is well-served by local cable TV networks.


Nearly 47.26 percent literacy rate.

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