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Diocese of Libmanan

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Diocese of Libmanan
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In a land area of 1,862.28 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the 1st district of Camarines Sur.


In the diocesan territory the population is 626,000 at end of 2016. (The population of the whole country is about 10.8 million people). The territory is ruled by political dynasties.


The dialects of the place are Bicol/Tagalog.


The Prelature of Libmanan is formerly part of the Archdiocese of Caceres. The Diocese of Caceres was formally established as a local Church on August 14, 1595 by virtue of the Papal Bull Super Specula Militantis Ecclesiae issued by Clement VIII. According to the document Ecclesia de Caceres in Indiis Orientalibus, the Episcopal See of Caceres until 1951 covered "the provinces of Camarines and Albay, including the islands of Ticao, Masbate, Burias and Catanduanes; the province of Tayabas including Lucban; and, in the contracosta of Mauban to Binangonan, Polo, Baler and Casiguran." Ecclesia Cacerensis in Indiis Orientalis was the official name given to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

In 1565, an organized and systematic program of evangelization was initiated in the Philippines by the Augustinians who accompanied Miguel Lopez de Legaspi's expedition. To facilitate the process of evangelization, the Philippines was divided into different missionary areas occupied by the various religious orders such as the Franciscans (1578), Jesuits (1581), Dominicans (1587), and Augustinian Recollects (1606) from both Spain and Mexico.

The evangelization in the Diocese of Caceres brought significant and prominent fruits: firstly, the promotion of the popular devotion to the Virgin of Peñafrancia and to the Divino Rostro (Divine Face). The birth of the devotion to the Virgin of Peñafrancia started during the time of Bishop Andres Gonzales, O.P. (1633-1709) who invited Miguel de Robles to bring the devotion to Nueva Caceres. This devotion spread rapidly due to miracles not only in the Bicol Region but even throughout the country. The devotion to the Divino Rostro was introduced in Bicol only in 1882. Secondly, the gradual growth of the native clergy with the building of a Diocesan Conciliar Seminary that started in 1783, but it was in 1797 that the canonical erection of the Seminario Conciliar de Caceres was accomplished under Bishop Domingo Collantes (1788-1808). Thirdly, the Most Rev. Jorge Barlin, Bishop of Caceres from 1905-1909, became the first Filipino and Diocesan Bishop. He was an alumnus of the Seminario de Conciliar de Caceres together with Jose Ma. Panganiban.

In 1910, a major reorganization of the Episcopal jurisdictions took place in the Philippines. Four new Bishoprics were created on April 10, 1910, namely Lipa, Calbayog, Tuguegarao, and Zamboanga-and the Prefecture Apostolic of Palawan. The erection of Lipa as a Diocese was beneficial to the Bishopric of Nueva Caceres because it reduced her extensive territory and made the see of Nueva Caceres exclusively for the Bicol area, covering the entire region with the provinces of Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon.

On April 8, 1951, the Apostolic Delegation was elevated to the rank of Apostolic Nunciature and the first Nuncio was Msgr. Egidio Vagnozzi. In his term as Apostolic Nuncio, he made a reorganization of the Philippine ecclesiastical jurisdictions. The old "Church of Caceres in Oriental Indies" became a Metropolitan See. Through the Papal Bull Quo in Philippina Republica of June 29, 1951, Pope Pius XII elevated the Diocese of Caceres into the Archdiocese of Caceres. On the same date, the Vicariates Forane of Legazpi and of Sorsogon were elevated into Episcopal Sees and were assigned as Suffragans of the Metropolitan See of Caceres. The incumbent Bishop Pedro Santos was named to head the new Ecclesiastical province as its first Archbishop. Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of Caceres encompassed the civil provinces of Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur. The Diocese of Legazpi comprised the civil provinces of Albay and Catanduanes and the islands of Cagraray, Batan, and Rapu-Rapu. The Diocese of Sorsogon covered the civil provinces of Sorsogon and Masbate.

The several events in the reorganization of Ecclesiastical territories in the local Churches of Bicol has been helpful in the continuous evangelization of the Bicolanos. The Ecclesiastical territories have become relatively smaller than before. However, a growing Catholic population is prevailing in the Philippines particularly in the Archdiocese of Caceres. The need for more efficient pastoral ministry and administration became a pressing demand. To solve the problem, the Most Rev. Leonardo Z. Legaspi, O.P., D.D., Archbishop of Caceres, wrote a petition letter to his Holiness Pope John Paul II dated January 12, 1989 requesting him to create a new Ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the form of a prelature from the Archdiocese of Caceres.

The Apostolic Nuncio, Most Rev. Bruno Torpigliani reviewed the petition letter by Archbishop Legaspi. Acceding to his request, the Nuncio wrote a letter of recommendation to the Holy Father. On December 9, 1989, Pope John Paul II approved the petition. Through the Apostolic Letter Philippinis in Insulis, sixteen parishes were separated from the Archdiocese of Caceres to create a prelature to be known henceforth as the Prelature of Libmanan. The new Prelature was canonically erected on March 19, 1990, as a Suffragan of Caceres with the first Bishop, Prospero N. Arellano, D.D.

On March 25, 2009, the Territorial Prelature of Libmanan was elevated to a diocese with Bishop Jose R. Rojas Jr., D.D. as its ordinary. (Excerpts from the website.)


The region has train and land/sea transportation.


There is no industry. People thrive mainly on fishing and agriculture (crops: rice, corn, etc.).


The telecommunications services in the diocesan territory have much improved with telephone lines installed in major towns, serviced by smart and globe telecommunications.


The literacy rate in the diocesan territory is 68 percent.


The Bicolano culture is primarily noted for the prominent use of chili peppers and gata (coconut milk) in its food. A classic example is the gulay na lada, known outside the region as Bicol Express, a well-loved dish using siling labuyo (native small chillies) and the aforementioned gata.

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