Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cebu

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Archdiocese of Cebu
Archidiocesis Sanctissimi Nomini Iesu sive Cæbuanus
Artsidiyosesis sa Sugbo
Country  Philippines
Territory Central Visayas and Southern Leyte
Ecclesiastical province Cebu
Area 5,088 km2 (1,964 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of December, 2007)
3,733,822 (90.08%%)
Parishes 140
Denomination Roman Catholic
Sui iuris church Latin Church
Rite Roman Rite
Established April 14, 1521 (Established by baptism of the natives), February 6, 1579 (Under the Diocese of Manila) , August 14, 1595 (Diocese), April 28, 1934 (Archdiocese)
Cathedral Cathedral of St Vitales, Cebu City
Patron saint Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Cebú
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Metropolitan Archbishop Jose Serofia Palma
Auxiliary Bishops Emilio L. Bataclan
Emeritus Bishops Ricardo Vidal Cardinal Archbishop-Emeritus
Antonio Rañola Auxiliary Bishop-Emeritus
Jurisdiction of the metropolitan see(not the archdiocese)
Jurisdiction of the metropolitan see
(not the archdiocese)
Website of the Archdiocese

The Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cebu is one of the ecclesiastical provinces of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines that is composed of the entire civil province of Cebu (Cebu and the nearby islands of Mactan, Bantayan, and Camotes). The Archdiocese of Cebu earned a special dignity of being the birthplace and seat of Philippine Christianity.[1] The dioceses of Tagbilaran and Talibon in Bohol, the diocese of Dumaguete in Negros Oriental, and the diocese of Maasin in Southern Leyte are its suffragans. The ecclesiastical seat of the archdiocese is the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. The current archbishop is the Most Reverend José S. Palma, D.D., STD, who was recently installed on January 13, 2011 replacing Ricardo Cardinal Vidal who had been archbishop of Cebu for 29 years. Like the Archbishop of Manila, the Cebu Archbishop is also customarily elevated to the status of Cardinal sometime after his enthronement.

As of 2006, the archdiocese registered a total of 3,415,000 baptized Catholics.[2] It is currently the largest archdiocese in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia having the most number of Catholics, seminarians, and priests.[3]


The history of the Archdiocese of Cebu began with the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in the town of Zubu in 1521.[4] By the native Cebuanos' profession of faith in Christ,[5] baptism,[6] the daily celebration of the Mass,[7] and the chaplain of the expedition, Fr. Pedro Balderrama being the legitimate pastor for their spiritual needs, the Church of Cebu was established. The community was truly a particular church even basing on contemporary standards found in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (832).[8] However, immediately after its inception during the aftermath of Battle of Mactan, the Church of Cebu experienced decadence due to lack of shepherds to enforce and edify the natives on the faith. Most of the natives materially apostatized, while others clung unto the image of the Santo Niño. The unintended negligence lasted for 44 years until it was re-establish in 1565 by the arrival of Miguel López de Legazpi and Fray Andrés de Urdaneta. The remnant of the Cebuano Church in 1521, as evident in the person of Rajah Tupas, was resuscitated by Urdaneta and the Augustinians when the formal evangelization of the Philippines commenced and later prospered. Fray Urdaneta was appointed for the Philippine Augustinian mission.[9] He shepherded the newly revived Cebuano Christian community beginning with the baptism Tupas’ niece after their arrival.[10] The oversight of the natives was then succeeded to Fray Diego de Herrera, the first prior of the country and would later baptized Tupas and his servants in 1568.

The first and yet humble Church of the country was under the Diocese of Manila which was established on February 6, 1579 as a suffragan to the See of Mexico. Cebú was finally made diocese and on 14 August 1595 along with the dioceses of Nueva Caceres and Nueva Segovia. Its first diocesan bishop was Pedro Agurto, also an Augustinian.

As a diocese, Cebú had a very extensive territory[11] which then included the whole of the Visayas and Mindanao and the Marianas.[12]

On April 28, 1934, it was elevated to a metropolitan archdiocese with the Most Rev. Gabriel M. Reyes was its first archbishop.

The archdiocese honours Our Lady of Guadalupe of Cebú as its patroness while the 2nd Filipino Saint St. Pedro Calungsod as the secondary patron saint.

Suffragan dioceses[edit]



Pope Leo X, in his bull Alias felices (April 25, 1521), affirmed the religious superiors to administer the sacraments to areas that are far away from an Episcopal see or lacking thereof. Pope Adrian VI’s bull Exponi nobis nuper fecisti (May 9, 1522) expounded Pope Leo's bull and conferred his apostolic authority which granted superiors of mendicant orders episcopal authority, except faculties needed episcopal consecration. The bull was confirmed by Paul III in 1535 and Pius V renewed the privileges in the bull Etsi mendicantium ordines in 1567. Though, the superiors of the Philippine mission were assigned and not preconized, their privileges to exercise as bishops to the newly formed Christian communities did not lack canonicity.

  • Andrés de Urdaneta, O.S.A † (April 1565 - June 1565) - considered as first prelate of the Philippines.[13][14][15]
  • Deigo de Herrera, O.S.A. † (June 1565 - 1571 moved to Panay then Manila)


Archbishop Jose Palma
  • Pedro de Agurto, O.S.A. † (30 Aug 1595 Appointed - 14 Oct 1608 Died)
  • Pedro Arce, O.S.A. † (17 Sep 1612 Appointed - 16 Oct 1645 Died)
  • Juan Velez † (26 Jan 1660 Appointed - 1662 Died)
  • Juan López † (23 Apr 1663 Appointed - 14 Nov 1672 Appointed, Archbishop of Manila)
  • Diego de Aguilar, O.P. † (16 Nov 1676 Appointed - 1 Oct 1692 Died)
  • Miguel Bayod, O.F.M. † (13 May 1697 Appointed - 28 Aug 1700 Died)
  • Pedro Sanz de la Vega y Landaverde, O. de M. † (26 Jan 1705 Appointed - 17 Dec 1717 Died)
  • Sebastián Foronda, O.S.A. † (2 Mar 1722 Appointed - 20 May 1728 Died)
  • Manuel de Ocio y Campo † (20 Jan 1734 Appointed - 21 Jul 1737 Died)
  • Protacio Cabezas † (29 Aug 1740 Appointed - 3 Feb 1753 Died)
  • Miguel Lino de Ezpeleta † (18 Jul 1757 Appointed - 1771 Died)
  • Mateo Joaquin Rubio de Arevalo † (13 Nov 1775 Appointed - 1788 Died)
  • Ignacio de Salamanca † (24 Sep 1792 Appointed - Feb 1802 Died)
  • Joaquín Encabo de la Virgen de Sopetrán, O.A.R. † (20 Aug 1804 Appointed - 8 Nov 1818 Died)
  • Francisco Genovés, O.P. † (21 Mar 1825 Appointed - 1 Aug 1827 Died)
  • Santos Gómez Marañón, O.S.A. † (28 Sep 1829 Appointed - 23 Oct 1840 Died)
  • Romualdo Jimeno Ballesteros, O.P. † (19 Jan 1846 Appointed - 17 Mar 1872 Died)
  • Benito Romero, O.F.M. † (28 Jan 1876 Appointed - 4 Nov 1885 Died)
  • Martín García y Alcocer, O.F.M. † (7 Jun 1886 Appointed - 30 Jul 1904 Resigned)
  • Thomas A. Hendrick † (17 Jul 1903 Appointed - 29 Nov 1909 Died)
  • Juan Bautista Gorordo † (2 Apr 1910 Appointed - 19 Jun 1931 Resigned)
  • Gabriel M. Reyes † (29 Jul 1932 Appointed - 25 Aug 1949 Appointed, Coadjutor Archbishop of Manila)
  • Julio Cardinal Rosales y Ras † (17 Dec 1949 Appointed - 24 Aug 1982 Retired)
  • Ricardo Cardinal Vidal (24 Aug 1982 Succeeded - 15 Oct 2010 Retired)
  • Jose S. Palma (15 Oct 2010 Appointed, 13 Jan 2011 Installed–Present)


Basilica Minore Sto. Niño, Cebu City
Magellan's Cross outside of the Basilica del Santo Niño, Cebu City


Minor Basilica[edit]

National Shrines[edit]

Diocesan Seminaries[edit]


Seat of Christianity[edit]

The Church of Cebu was given primatial dignity by papal recognition. In 1965 Pope Paul VI, when he elevated the San Augustine Church in Cebu to a basilica, he named it "the symbol of the birth and growth of Christianity in the Philippines"[16] thus, raised the dignity of the Church of Cebu as the seat of Philippine Christianity. The categorical term "Christianity" is not to be underestimated since it refers to important aspects of the faith (the Church community, the Gospel, Evangelization, its members, etc.). Pope St. John Paul II, in his Homily for Families in Cebu (February 19, 1981), recognized primatial dignity of Cebu as the birthplace of Christianity:[17]

Finding myself in this important city known as the cradle of Christianity in the Philippines, I want to express my deep joy and profound thanksgiving to the Lord of history. The thought that for 450 years the light of the Gospel has shone with undimmed brightness in this land and on its people is cause for great rejoicing.

St. John Paul II also alluded that Cebu is the place where the faith and even the Church in the Philippines began.[18]


The particular church of Cebu preceded other particular churches in the Philippines even it was not yet made diocese. Though, there was an interim period which gradually deteriorated the Christian community, nevertheless it still maintained precedence through its re-establishment in 1565. In the same Homily for Families, Pope St. John Paul II said about the community:

In a particular way the Church thanks God that the tiny Christian community of Sugbu, under the patronage of the Infant Jesus, has now become a flourishing archdiocese of two million people, almοst all of whom are Catholics, with an active and zealous clergy, both diocesan and religious, with dedicated men and women religious, and with an encοuraging number of seminarians. I am also deeply gratified to knοw that there are numerous Catholic institutions and organizations and movements of the laity.

It was in Cebu the first baptism was made (April 14, 1521), hence, Rajah Humabon and the rest of the natives became the very first Filipino Christians. In the island was the first Mass participated by Filipino converts. It is the first Christian city (Villa del Santísimo Nombre de Jésus) in the country and in Southeast Asia. The territory is the first capital of the Spanish East Indies. It was in the island the first Philippine Christian feast dedicated to the Sto. Niño was celebrated. The very first churches were erected (the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica del Santo Niño) in the Philippines. The list of precedence in Christian tradition goes on and on. The Church of Cebu truly is the Primatial Church of the Philippines.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Cebu (Archdiocese) [Catholic-Hierarchy]
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan’s Voyage Around the World, vol. 1, trans. James Alexander Robertson (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1906), 159.
  6. ^ Ibid., 151-155.
  7. ^ Ibid., 157.
  8. ^
  9. ^ The Philippine Islands, 1493-1803, vol. 2, eds. Emma Helen Blair, James Alexander Robertson (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1903), 161.
  10. ^ Ibid., 140-141.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ The Philippine Islands, 1493-1803, vol. 2, eds. Emma Helen Blair, James Alexander Robertson (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1903), 33, note 5.
  14. ^ Ibid., 168.
  15. ^ Bartholomé de Letona, OSF, The Philippine Islands, 1493-1803, vol. 36, eds. Emma Helen Blair, James Alexander Robertson (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1906), 210.
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Ibid.

External links[edit]