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Diocese of Diamantina

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Diamantina, Diocese of (ADAMANTINA), in the north of the State of Minas Geraes, Brazil, South America, created under the Brazilian Empire, August 10, 1853, and confirmed by the Holy See, June 6, 1854. This territory was part of the ancient Diocese of Marianna (now the Archdiocese of Minas Geraes), which had four suffragans: Marianna, Diamantina, Pouso Alegre and Uberaba, in the center, north, south and far west of the State of Minas Geraes. The present territory comprises twenty municipalities or town-ships divided in 106 parishes and 173 districts (an area of 33,708 square miles or half the territory of the State of Minas). According to the last official census (December 31, 1900) the population of the Diocese of Diamantina was 829,018. There are about 200 churches in as many villages and towns; and 100 priests, belonging to the regular and parochial clergy of the diocese. A seminary and diocesan college (recognized by a decree of the Federal Government, and modeled on the National Gymnasium of Rio de Janeiro) are directed by the Lazarists, and a college for girls, also in Diamantina, and directed by religious, are the principal educational institutions of the diocese. Premonstratensian missionaries in Montes Claros, and Franciscans in Theophilo Ottoni and Itambacury, are engaged in Christianizing the Indian tribes of Botocudos. About 7,000 have been converted along the Mucury River, and in the mountains of Aimores and forests of Itambacury. In addition to these there are Dutch Redemptorists in Curvello and a few (Spanish and Italian) priests.

Charity hospitals (Diamantina, 2, Curvelho, 1, Montes Claros, 1, Serro, 1, Conceicao, 1) are attended by the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul, and of Our Lady of Providence. Catholic leagues, charitable societies and confraternities are organized in the parishes; and there is an institution at Serro for invalid or poor priests. There were formerly two missions, in Poaya (forests of Urupuca River and Suassuhy-Grande) and in Figueira (Dom Manoel Harbor), and Indian aldeamentos which prospered under the apostolical zeal of Italian Franciscan missionaries.

Since its erection the Diocese of Diamantina has had three bishops. The first was the Right Rev. Marcos Cardoso de Paiva (a native of Rio de Janeiro). His successor was the Right Rev. Joao Antonio dos Santos who died in Diamantina, May 17, 1905, after an episcopacy of forty-one years. Born in the village of Rio Preto, 1819, he served as professor of philosophy in the seminary of Marianna before his appointment as Bishop of Diamantina, May 2, 1864. During the last years of his episcopacy, the Holy See named as his coadjutor the Right Rev. J. Silverio de Sousa who succeeded him, having been consecrated titular Bishop of Bagis, February 2, 1902. He was the author of “Sitios e Personagens”, “O Lar Catholico”, “Novenas do Natal e da Immaculada Conceicao”, “Finezas de Mae e Pastoraes”, all well known works published in Brazil. The Catholic press in the diocese is represented by two periodicals “Estrella Polar” (official) of Diamantina, and “A Verdade”, of Montes-Claros. The latter is in charge of the Premonstratensian priests.



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