The diocese of Larantuka covers two districts — Flores Timur and Lembata — in the eastern part of Flores Island as well as the small islands of Adonara, Lembata and Solor.
The predominant ethnic group is the Lamaholot tribe.
The arrival of Portuguese Missioners taught Catholicism and even baptized some people. In 1556, another Portuguese merchant ship stopped at the island due to the bad weather. Its captain taught Catholicism to the king of Solor and baptized him. Portuguese missioners coming later to the island continued what had the Portuguese traders had begun.
Under the guidance of Dominican missioners, the Church in Solor grew. The first missioner was Father Antonio de Taceira. Fathers Antonio da Cruz and Simeo da Chagas as well as Brother Alexio then followed. The Dominicans baptized 25,000 people and established 25 mission stations in East Flores.
On Dec. 19, 1851, the Portuguese and Dutch concluded a treaty that marked off their areas of control in Nusa Tenggara (the Lesser Sunda Islands). East Flores came under the Dutch, but Portuguese missioners still served people in the area sometimes.
On Aug. 4, 1860, Yohanes Petrus Nikolaus Sanders, a Dutch diocesan priest, arrived in Larantuka. Father Gaspar Hubertus Fransen took over the work the following year and established a school before he returned to the Netherlands in October 1863.
Before Father Fransen left, Jesuit Father Gregorius Metz arrived in Larantuka on April 17, 1963. He established a school in Postoh. This school building later became a church. Afterward, several churches and chapels were built.
Father Metz served people in Larantuka for 20 years. Toward the end of his time, in 1879, Franciscan nuns arrived from Heythuijsen.
On May 4, 1917, Jesuit Father Hoebrects and two Jesuit brothers left Larantuka and Flores. But by that time, the first Divine Word missioner, Father William Bach, had arrived. From 1919 until 1920, about 35 Divine Word priests and brothers came to Nusa Tenggara. They established schools and mission stations.
The Japanese occupied Flores in 1942, during the World War II. They interned most of the Dutch missioners in South Sulawesi, although they allowed Monsignor Hendrik Leven and some priests to continue their pastoral ministry. The first two local priests, members of the Society of the Divine Word, had been ordained just before the occupation, in 1941. One of them was Father Gabriel Manek from West Timor, who served in East Flores.
A new era began after the war ended. San Dominggo Seminary was established in 1950 to prepare young Florinese men to be priests. The first of these native sons was ordained a diocesan priest in 1963, two years after the establishment of Larantuka diocese, Ende archdiocese, and Ruteng diocese covering, eastern, central and western Flores respectively. Thirty-five years later, the number of diocesan priests reached 78.
Meanwhile, In 1958, Bishop Manek, at that time apostolic vicar of Larantuka, established the Daughters of the Rosary Queen (PRR) for local women who wanted to become religious. The congregation now serves in 12 dioceses across Indonesia as well as overseas.
1951, the apostolic vicariate of the Lesser Sunda Islands was divided into three apostolic vicariates: Ende, Ruteng, and Larantuka. When Pope John XXIII established the Indonesian hierarchy in 1961 these became an archdiocese and two dioceses. Bishop Manek became the first archbishop of Ende, while Divine Word Bishop Antonius Hubertus Thijssen succeeded him as the head of Larantuka diocese.
In 1974, Bishop Thijssen was transferred to Denpasar diocese, and Monsignor Darius Nggawa, SVD, took over as head of Larantuka diocese. When he retired in 2004, Coadjutor Bishop Fransiskus Kopong Kung succeeded him as the first diocesan bishop of Larantuka.
Gonsalo's martyrdom at Nagasaki with the other Christian missionaries is regarded as the most tragic and historic event for Catholicism in Japan
Calungsod and his companion Father Vitores baptized infants, children and adults, defying the risk of persecution and murder
Despite being an ordinary layman, Ruiz remained defiant while facing torture by the Japanese and died a brave martyr
He was the first Korean-born Catholic priest and is now the patron saint of Korea
This fabled church is also known by its Syriac name Mar Sleeva (Holy Cross) Church
Asian Catholics who cannot visit famous Our Lady of Lourdes shrine in France can revere miraculous Mother Mary at Velankanni shrine in India. The Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health is popularly known as “the Lourdes of the East” and holds the largest Catholic Church in Asia.
Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica at Fort Kochi is one of the finest churches and a historic but also a landmark in Kerala state of southern India. Santa Cruz Church blends Indo-European and Gothic architectural style that draws tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year. The cathedral is a great place of devotion and historic significance that survived colonial conquests and invasions to the city.
Mokama Marian shrine on the southern bank of Ganges River bears the legacy persecuted Nepali Catholics banished from their homeland to India for refusing to renounce their faith. Our Lady of Divine Grace Church at Mokama stands about 90 kilometers from Patna, the capital of eastern Indian state of Bihar. Mother Mary is popularly known as Mokama Mata (Mother of Mokama). The church was built to honor Mary in 1947.
The shrine holds a three-meter-tall, white-stone carved statue Virgin Mary on the Tao Pao Mountain in the Diocese of Phan Thiet in southern Vietnam, about 1,600 kilometers from the national capital Hanoi.
The Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Urakami of Nagasaki is a witness of persecution of Christians from 17th to 19th centuries and deadly atomic bombing during the Second World War. This European-style, red-brick church continues to preserve some relics that survived the atomic bombing. Urakami cathedral, also known as St. Mary’s Cathedral, was almost destroyed when the atomic bomb was dropped on Aug. 9, 1945. The church stood about 500 meters from the hypocenter of atomic explosion. The devastation shattered and charred stone-made statues of saints, which were later preserved as relics along with the surviving head of Virgin Mary statue and one of the church’s original bells.
Our Lady of Akita Catholic Church is Yuzawadai is among the most famous churches in Japan. The church shot into global fame thanks to a wooden statue of Blessed Virgin Mary that wept 101 times and Marian apparitions to Japanese nun Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa that miraculously healed her hearing impairment. Japanese wooden sculptor Saburo Wakasa from Akita city carved the now-famous miraculous statue of Virgin Mary in 1963.
The Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in Seria is a small church on the western Belait district of Brunei, but it shot into fame thanks to the nation’s most famous Catholic – late Cardinal Cornelius Sim. It is also the second of three churches in Brunei dedicated to Virgin Mary. In fact, Mary has a prominent place not only in Christianity, but also in Islam, the dominant faith in Brunei. Holy Quran mentions Mary seventy times and reveres her as the greatest woman to have ever lived.