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Holy Week Feature: Religious Communities and their Seals circa 1847

The religious administration of the Philippine Islands is divided into the Archbishopric of Manila and three Bishoprics. The Archbishopric of Manila is composed of the provinces of Tondo, Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan, Zambales, Nueva Ecija, Laguna, Batangas, Cavite, and Mindoro with a total of 167 parishes of which 101 are served by regular priests and 66 by secular priests. The bishopric of Nueva Segovia, whose seat is in Vigan, is composed of the provinces of Cagayan, Nueva Vizcaya, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Abra and the Batanes islands, with 98 parishes served by 77 regular and 21 secular priests. The bishopric of Nueva Caceres whose seat is in the city of Nueva Caceres is in the province of Camarines Sur. It is composed of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay, Tayabas and the military commands of the islands of Masbate and Ticao, with 81 parishes served by 35 regular and 46 secular priests. The bishopric of Cebu, whose seat is in the city of the same name, is composed of the province of Cebu, the island of Negros, Leyte, Zamar, Capiz, Iloilo, Antique, Misamis, Caraga, Calamianes, Zamboanga and the Marianas Islands, with 156 parishes served by 94 regular and 62 secular priests.

Aside from the secular clergy who serve in the cathedrals, there are also those from 5 convents in Manila. These are the Dominicans, the Franciscans, the Recollects, the Augustinians and San Juan de Dios, whose costumes are shown in the drawing. The members of the first four orders administer to all provinces through the town parishes in the same manner that the secular priests serve those that have been assigned to them. All have some number of secular assistants, depending on the number of the families in the town. The priests of the San Juan de Dios are dedicated solely to service in the hospital established in their convent in Manila. Each of these orders has a seminary in Spain, from where young priests come to replace those who die. They are assigned to parishes after completing their studies and learning the language of the province where they are to be assigned. All the regular and secular clergy of the Philippines receive stipends from the State. There are parishes that are very productive because of the size of their population and because of their wealth, such as Tondo and Malabon in the province of Tondo, Malolos in the province of Bulacan, Taal in Batangas, Laoag in Ilocos Norte and many other that generate for the parish priests much more than the 5,000 duros that they receive from the royal coffers of the Archbishop. It is estimated that the parishes ordinarily generate one peso fuerte a year from each family.

Image: Collage by Lopez Museum and Library
Text from Jose Honorato Lozano: Filipinas 1847 by Jose Maria A. Cariño


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