Belem do Para, ARCHDIOCESE OF, in South America, formerly (after March 4, 1719) a suffragan diocese of Bahia (San Salvador), but raised to metropolitan rank May 3, 1906. The city of Belem is the capital of the Brazilian State of Para, and is situated on the Bay of Guajara, in the richest rubber and coffee section of the Republic. Santa Maria de Nazareth do Para, to give the city its full name, was founded in 1615, but has reached its present importance as one of the largest shipping ports of northern Brazil only during the last twenty years. Not only is it the most northerly port of any importance in South America, and as such the nearest to the great shipping centers of North America and Europe, but it is also the great outlet for the natural products of the State of Para. It has a population of 100,000, an export trade of about $25,000,000, and an import trade of about $12,000,000 annually. The mean temperature is about 80° Fahrenheit.
Among the churches of this cathedral city is that of Santa Maria de Nazareth in the pretty suburb of Nazareth. The old convent and chapel of the Carmelite Order have been converted into a seminary, while the old Jesuit College is now occupied by the episcopal palace and another seminary. The city has all modern improvements, and what are considered the best museum and botanical gardens in Brazil. The Amparo Orphan Asylum is ranked among the leading charitable institutions of the State and the city.
In 1903 the Prcelatura Nullius of Santarem was made from the Diocese of Belem; and again, in 1904, a new delimitation of the same quasi-episcopal territory took place. The Catholic population of the Archdiocese of Belem is now about 480,000. There are about 500 Protestants. In this vast territory, which before the above-mentioned division included 1,176,100 square miles, the parishes are 77 in number, with 29 filial churches. There are 47 secular, and 13 religious, priests, and 21 Brothers.
FRANCISCO J. YANES