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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 Kaohsiung

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Diocese of Kaohsiung
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The diocese of Kaohsiung covers 5,721.8674 square kilometers and includes Kaohsiung City and the counties of Kaohsiung and Pingtung.

Kaohsiung used to be called "Takau" or "Takou" and both names were used in the historical records of the Ming (1368-1644 A.D.) and Qing (1644-1911 A.D.) dynasties. "Takau" means "bamboo forest" in the language of the Pingpu Tribe who used to live along the Kaohsiung harbor before the 15th century.

Language

Mandarin Chinese is the official language of Taiwan. However, at least half the population prefer to speak Taiwanese at home, especially for those living the southern region. Taiwanese, or the "Minnan" dialect, originated from Fujian province of mainland China. Minnan means "south of the Min River." Many elderly people also understand Japanese as a result of the 1895-1945 occupation of Taiwan by Japan. Taiwan's 10 aboriginal tribes each have its own language. These languages bear no relation at all to Chinese, and are generally regarded as Malayo Polynesian in origin.

Transportation

Kaohsiung is an important hub for international transportation in the southern part of Taiwan. It is where the busiest container port and one of the two international airports of Taiwan locate.

Kaohsiung City
Kaohsiung city covers 153.6 square kilometers and has a population of 1,523,649 as of July 2008. There are 21 parishes in the city.

Kaohsiung County
Kaohsuing county covers 2,793 square kilometers and has a population of 1,243,000 as of July 2008. The 15 parishes there cover one city, 23 townships and one town in the county.

Pingtung County
Pingtung county covers 2,776 square kilometers and has a population of 886,514 as of July. 2008. It comprises one city, three towns and 29 townships, and has 21 parishes.

A famous place in the county is Wanchin, Taiwans's only Catholic village. Wanchin marks the earliest introduction of Catholicism in Taiwan which was in 2009 exactly 150 years ago. Immaculate Conception Minor Basilica (PHOTO ON TOP)in Wanchin is the oldest church in Taiwan. The parish belongs to Kaohsiung diocese, which is based 290 kilometers south of Taipei.

 

The church was completed in 1863. In 1984, Pope John Paul II elevated it to the status of minor basilica, a church that enjoys special privileges. That same year, the Ministry of the Interior classified the building as a grade-three historical monument. The ministry thereby bears 60 percent of maintenance costs, while the Catholic Church covers the rest.

The building facade was painted snow white during the June 2001 renovation and busloads of tourists have since made it a famous tourist site. Built in an architectural style reminiscent of a Spanish castle, it is a favorite photography venue for wedding couples and companies

Climate

Kaohsiung is located at the latitude of 22° 30´N, characterized by the subtropical monsoon climate. The city has an average temperature of 18.6 degrees Celsius in February while the highest average is 28.7 degrees Celsius in June. It has a dry winter but receives the most precipitation of 569.1mm in July.

Economy

According to the website of the city government, the industry of Kaohsiung is transforming into a precision industry featuring high technology, automation, high added value and low pollution. Kaohsiung also plays an important role in the world's pelagic fishery industry.

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