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 2013)
3,679,738 (80.5%)
Parishes 145
Denomination Roman Catholic
Sui iuris church Latin Church
Rite Roman Rite

- April 14, 1521 (Established by baptism of the natives)

- April 28, 1565 (re-established as an Abbey nullius)

- February 6, 1579 (Abbey exemptio passiva, retains jurisdiction around the monastery even 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 and the Seat of Christianity in Asia,[1][2][3][4] composed of the entire civil province of Cebu (Cebu and the nearby islands of Mactan, Bantayan, and Camotes). The Church of Cebu is the cradle[5] and Mother-Church of the Philippines.[2] 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.

As of 2013, the archdiocese registered a total of 4,609,590 baptized Catholics.[6] It is currently the largest archdiocese in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia having the most number of Catholics, seminarians, and priests.[7]


The Mother-Church of Cebu

The history of the Archdiocese of Cebu began with the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in the town of Zubu in 1521.[8] The Church anchored in that year[9] by the native Cebuanos' profession of faith in Christ,[10] baptism,[11] the daily celebration of the Mass,[12] and the chaplain of the expedition, Fr. Pedro Balderrama being the legitimate pastor for their spiritual needs.

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 first Christian icon in the Philippines given as a baptismal gift by Magellan). 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 the Augustinians as an Abbey nullius (an equivalent of a diocese) when the formal evangelization of the Philippines commenced with Fr. Urdaneta as the first prelate.[13][14][15] The oversight of the natives was then succeeded to Fray Diego de Herrera who would later re-baptized Tupas and his servants in 1568.

The Church of Panay

The Church expanded from Cebu when the remaining missionaries led by Fr. Diego de Herrera when they were forced northwest temporarily due to conflict with the Portuguese and laid the foundations of the Christian community in the Panay in around 1569.[2]

The Church of Camarines

In 1570 the second batch of missionaries reached Cebu. The island became the ecclesiastical "seat" as it is the center for evangelization. A notable missionary was Fr. Alfonso Jimenez, O.S.A., who travelled and penetrated the Camarines region through the islands of Masbate, Leyte, Samar, and Burias and founded the Church there. He was called the first apostle of the region.[2]

The Church of Manila

By 1571, Fr. Herrera who was assigned as chaplain of Legazpi, from Panay advanced further north and founded the local Church community in Manila. There Legazpi transferred the seat of government to the territory. Though, Cebu remained the spiritual capital of the country.[2]

The Church of Ilocos-Cagayan

On 1572 the Spaniards lead by Juan de Salcedo marched from Manila further north with the second batch of Augustinian missionaries and pioneered the evangelization to the communities in the Ilocos (starting with Vigan) and the Cagayan regions.[2]

The Oldest Sees

The established local Church community would be later made dioceses: Santissimo Nombre de Jesus (Mother-Church of Cebu), Manila (Church of Manila), Caceres (Church of Camarines), Nueva Segovia (Church of Ilocos-Cagayan). Later in 1865, from the Cebu diocese, Santa Isabel de Jaro (Church of Panay). The first and yet humble Church of the country was placed 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.[2]

As a diocese, Cebú had a very extensive territory[16] which then included the whole of the Visayas and Mindanao and the Marianas.[17]

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.

Since the beginning of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, most number of its presidents were prelates of the archdiocese (Cardinal Julio Rosales in 1961–1966 and re-elected 1974–1976, Cardinal Ricardo Vidal in 1985–1987, and Archbishop Jose Palma in 2011-2013), not yet counting the first chairman of its predecessor the Catholic Welfare Organization who is Archbishop Reyes.

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 Pope St. Pius V renewed the privileges 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.
  • Deigo de Herrera, O.S.A. † (June 1565 - 1569 moved to Panay then Manila) - the first Provincial superior of the Order.
  • Martín de Rada, O.S.A. † (1569-1575?)
  • Alfonso Jimenez, O.S.A. † (1575-1577)


His Excellency 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)
The Cebu Cathedral: The titular Mother Church of the Philippines
Cebu Cathedral Interior.


Basilica Minore Sto. Niño, Cebu City. The Mother of All Churches in the Philippines.
Magellan's Cross outside of the Basilica del Santo Niño, Cebu City


Minor Basilica[edit]

National Shrines[edit]

Diocesan Seminaries[edit]


Cebu's Basilica del Sto. Niño: Mother and Head of All Churches[edit]

In the Apostolic Letter Ut Clarificetur, on the conferring the titles and privileges of the basilica, Pope Blessed Paul VI in 1965 described the Cebu's now Basilica del Santo Niño as the "Mother and Head of all Churches in the Philippines" (mater et caput... omnium ecclesiarum Insularum Philippinarum).[18] The same Blessed Paul VI also named the basilica the "symbol of the birth and growth of Christianity in the Philippines."[19]

Seat of Philippine Christianity[edit]

Pope St. John Paul II, in his Homily for Families in Cebu (February 19, 1981), called the island as the birthplace of the faith:

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.[20]

The Spiritual and Ecclesiastical Capital of the Philippines[edit]

Cebu is the capital of the Catholic faith[21] by virtue of being the first Christian city,[22] the first capital of the Spanish East Indies, the birthplace of the Philippine Church, and also enshrined the Philippine relic the Santo Niño de Cebú.

The Cradle of Catholic Christianity in Southeast Asia[edit]

Malacca, Malaysia (1511) and Cebu, Philippines (1521) were the two cradles of (Catholic) Christianity in Southeast Asia. However, by the dawn of the 1600 Malacca was leveled to the ground by the Dutch onslaught rendering its diocese dissolved, its churches and parishes destroyed, and the land converted to the Dutch Reformed faith while the central island in the Philippines remained Catholic. The faithful in Malacca fled and found refuge in Cebu.[23] The Philippine Islands hold the largest Catholic population in Asia and called by Blessed Paul VI "a great Catholic nation in South-East Asia"[24] and all of the country’s great size of faithful found its genesis and spiritual center in Cebu.[25]

Precedence in Christian Tradition[edit]

The Primatial Church of Cebu[2] preceded other local churches in the country. Though, there was an interim period which gradually deteriorated the Christian community, nevertheless it still maintained precedence through its re-establishment in 1565. 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 the first Mass was participated by Filipino converts. Also in the territory the first resistance against the Mohammedan advance from the south.[26] The first Philippine Christian feast dedicated to the Sto. Niño was instituted and celebrated there. The first recorded confession and the last rites of an accused inhabitant transpired.[27] The very first temples were erected (the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica del Santo Niño) in the Philippines.[28] The first Christian Marriage transpired with Isabel, the niece of Rajah Tupas and Andres, the Greek caulker of Legazpi, and their children baptized representing the first infant baptisms.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Cebu—Cradle of the Philippine Church and Seat of Far-East Christianity," International Eucharistic Congress 2016, December 4, 2014, accessed December 4, 2014,
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Cebu (Archdiocese) [Catholic-Hierarchy]
  7. ^ "Archdiocese of Cebu". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Carmelo D. F. Morelos, "'Go… Make Disciples!' – A Pastoral Letter on the Fourth Centenary of the Archdioceses of Manila, Cebu, Caceres, Nueva Segovia," Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, January 29, 1994, accessed September 6, 2014,
  10. ^ Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan’s Voyage Around the World, vol. 1, trans. James Alexander Robertson (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1906), 159.
  11. ^ Ibid., 151-155.
  12. ^ Ibid., 157.
  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. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Julius Bautista, "The Rebellion and the Icon: Holy Revolutions in the Philippines," Asian Journal of Social Science 34, No. 2 (2006): 295, Note 1.
  22. ^ “Résumé of contemporaneous documents,” in The Philippine Islands, 1493-1803, vol. 2, eds. Emma H. Blair, James A. Robertson (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1903), 121 [Hereafter cited as Résumé of Documents].
  23. ^ Peter Schreurs, "Did Saint Francis Xavier Come to Mindanao?" Philippine Quarterly of Culture Society 22, (1994): 20.
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ Juan de Medina, OSA, “Historia de la Orden de San Agustin de estas Islas Filipinas,” in The Philippine Islands 1493-1803, vol. 23, eds. Emma H. Blair, James A. Robertson (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1903), 185.
  27. ^ Résumé of Documents, 153.
  28. ^ Astrid Sala-Boza, “The Contested Site of the Finding of the Holy Child: Villa San Miguel or San Nicolas (Cebu El Viejo),” Philippine Quarterly of Culture Society 34, (2006): 232.; The Philippine Islands, 1493-1803, vol. 2, eds. Emma Helen Blair, James Alexander Robertson (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1903), 121.
  29. ^ Résumé of Documents, 140-141.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 10°17′45″N 123°54′11″E / 10.2958°N 123.9030°E / 10.2958; 123.9030