Chronology of Catholic Dioceses:Notes on São Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos, first diocese of Brazil, 1551

All of Brazil was originally regarded as part of the Diocese of Funchal. The first Mass in Brazil was celebrated on 26 April, 1500, at Cocoa Vermelha Island by Henrique de Coimbra, O.F.M. In 1537 the Mercy Hospital was erected at Santos.

The first governor of Brazil, Thomé de Souza, arrived at Bahia on 29 March, 1549; with him were six Jesuits, the first sent to the New World, under Manoel da Nobrega. Two days later the first Mass was said at Bahia.

The erection of the diocese of São Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos was proposed by King John of Portugal, and the creation was definitely put into effect by Pope Julius III in 1551, with the Bull "Super Specula militantis Ecclesiae" (25 February 1551). The diocese became a suffragan in the Ecclesiastical Province of Funchal; the size of the new ecclesiastical circumscription was described as follows: "cinquenta leguas da costa; o Bispo da nova diocese excercesse a jurisdição episcopal em tôdas as terras do Brasil, até que fossem constituidos outros bispados" (cf. "A Igreja no Brasil", notas para a sua Historia. Padre Manuel Barabosa, Rio de Janeiro, 1955, pp. 9-10).

The episcopal city, Bahia, had been founded by Thomé de Souza in 1549. The first bishop, Pedro Fernandes Sardinha, arrived at Bahia on 22 June, 1552; he left on 2 June, 1556, to return to Europe, but was shipwrecked between the rivers São Francisco and Cururipu and murdered by the Indians, 16 June, 1556.

On 1 July, 1553, there arrived at Bahia the Venerable José Anchieta, S.J., the Apostle of Brazil. A native mission, São Andre, was begun forthwith near the city.

When in 1570 the Ecclesial Province of Funchal was abrogated, the diocese of São Salvador da Bahia was joined to the Province of Lisboa.

(Sources: Huiskamp 1994 p. 222, and Catholic Encyclopedia, )

- CT

av Webmaster publisert 08.09.2004, sist endret 08.09.2004 - 12:11