The Gwangju archdiocesan territory covers 12,623 square kilometers and includes Gwangju Metropolitan City and Jeollanam-do province.
The archdiocese was initially an apostolic prefecture and was carved out of Daegu archdiocese on April 13, 1937. It became an apostolic vicariate on Jan. 21, 1957, and then an archdiocese on March 10, 1962. The ecclesiastical province of Gwangju comprises the metropolitan Gwangju archdiocese with its suffragan dioceses of Jeonju and Cheju.
The Missionary Society of St. Columban played a key role in founding the archdiocese. In 2008, Gwangju archdiocese celebrated its 70th anniversary.
During the persecution of the Catholic Church in the 19th century, there were many martyrs in this area. Naju parish was established to pay tribute to the faith of the martyrs who lost their lives in front of the Naju Muhakdang (the site of a military training camp). Naju parish, which celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2004, erected a memorial shrine for the martyrs and restored the house of Archbishop Harold Henry, the first pastor of the parish, as his memorial hall.
In the Gwangju archdiocesan jurisdiction, the population is 3,430,216 at the end of 2016. (Some 6.7 percent of the whole population 51 million in the country). Most residents are ethnic Koreans.
Standard Korean is in use. English, a mandatory subject in schools, can be spoken and understood in business and tourist areas. All traffic signs are in English and Korean.
Gwangju archdiocese falls within the temperate zone and has the four distinctive seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter. The yearly average temperature of Gwangju is 13.6 degrees Celsius. The annual precipitation in the region averages 1,289 millimeters. The warm currents of the western sea and the southern wind make the area warm and rainy. Most of the rainfall is concentrated in the rainy months (monsoon period) of June through September.
It is located at the southwestern tip of the Korean peninsula and borders the dioceses of Masan and Jeonju. It faces Cheju diocese across the sea. The area has vast fields and a coast in the west and there are 1,970 islands accounting for 62 percent of the islands of the country. The archdiocesan territory is known for its traditional arts. Gwangju (Kwangju) was the place of the May 18 Democratic Uprising in 1980 against the military coup.
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
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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.
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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.