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 Neyyattinkara

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Diocese of Neyyattinkara
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Pope John Paul II erected the Latin rite diocese of Neyyattinkara, based in southern most part of Kerala state, on June 14, 1996. The origin of Christianity in this area dates back to 1600, when people who received baptism from St. Francis Xavier came and settled in Neyyattinkara, Vlathankara, Amaravila and Parassala.

In 1698, attempts were made to start a mission at Nemom.  In 1707, Jesuit Father Severia Borgis started it.  The first converts were from the Nair community.  The first church in the area was erected in 1775 at Amaravila.

Widespread missionary activities in the diocese began at the dawn of 20th century, when the area was under Quilon diocese. It was the saintly Carmelite Archbishop Aloysius Maria Benziger, archbishop of Quilon, worked hard to spread the faith in area in 1905. His saintly life, powerful leadership, missionary zeal and generous assistance to missionary priests paved the way for the formation of several ecclesial communities.

The diocese of Neyyattinkara was created bifurcating the diocese of Trivandrum in 1996 and Father Vincent Samuel was appointed as its first bishop.

The diocese consists of two taluks of Neyyattinkara and Nedumangad except the area that was erstwhile under the Padroado.

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