Fortaleza, Diocese of (FORTALEXIENSIS), is coextensive with the State of Ceara in the Republic of Brazil, having an area of 46,912 square miles, and a population of 850,000 souls, of whom fewer than 1000 are non-Catholics. Fortaleza, or Ceara, the episcopal city, has a population of 60,000. Formerly a part of the Diocese of Pernambuco, this district was erected into a separate diocese, suffragan to Bahia, by Pius IX, June 8, 1854. Joao Guerino Gomes was named as first bishop but did not accept the appointment. Father Gomes, who was famous in his day both as an orator and as a philosopher, died in 1859; a biographical notice of him was presented to the Historical Institute of Bahia by his cousin, Jose Antonio Teixeira. The first bishop, Luis Antonio dos Santos, founded the diocesan seminaries at Fortaleza and Crato, and, for the education of girls, the College of the Immaculate Conception, besides building the church of the Sacred Heart at Fortaleza.
Dom Luis Antonio dos Santos having been elevated to the metropolitan See of Bahia, Joaquim Jose Vieira—b. 1836, consecrated at Campinas in the State of S. Paulo, December 9, 1883—took possession of the See of Fortaleza on February 24, 1884. His incumbency has been fruitful in the increase of means for the education of the poor, the college of Caninde and the Jesus-Mary-Joseph School at Fortaleza owing their existence to his pastoral zeal. In 1908 this diocese contained 77 parishes with 120 priests. The diocesan seminary is conducted by the Lazarist Fathers; there is a Benedictine abbey, with a college, at Quixada; the Italian Capuchins have charge of the Sacred Heart church at Fortaleza and the church of St. Francis of the Wounds at Caninde, to which latter is attached a college for poor boys. The Sisters of Charity have under their care the Misericordia Hospital at Fortaleza, the College of the Immaculate Conception, the Jesus-Mary-Joseph School, and the lunatic asylum at Parangaba. The principal lay association in the diocese is the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, consisting of a superior council, 32 particular councils, and 156 conferences, and maintains 10 primary schools and 9 libraries, besides publishing, as its official organ, the “Revista do Conselho Central”.