Diocese of Saint Thomas of Guiana
Suffragan of Caracas, Venezuela, erected by Pius VI on Dec. 19, 1791
Saint Thomas of Guiana (GUAYANA), Diocese of (DE GUAYANA), suffragan of Caracas, erected by Pius VI on December 19, 1791, comprises the former state of Bermudez, districts of Nueva Esparta and Guayana, and territories of Amazonas Caura, Colon, Orinoco, and Yuruary, in the south and east of Venezuela. The first bishop was Msgr. Francisco de Ybarra, born at Guacata, Venezuela; his successors were: (I) Jose Antonio Mohedano (1800), born in the Diocese of Toledo; (2) Msgr. Jose de Silva y Olave (March 15, 1815). After the troubles caused by the wars of independence Leo XII named (3) Msgr. Mariano Talavero, of Santa Fe, vicar Apostolic and titular Bishop of Tricala. Gregory XII restored the episcopate, appointing (4) Msgr. Antonio Fortique (July 12, 1841); (5) Jose Emanuel Arroyo (1856); and (6) Msgr. Antonio Maria Duran (September 25, 1891), the present bishop. The diocese contains over 400,000 Catholics, and a few alien Jews and Protestants; 60 parishes (20 filial); 36 priests; 50 churches and chapels. The Carib Indians occupying Eastern Venezuela were civilized and Christianized by the early Spanish Franciscan missionaries. The episcopal city, Ciudad Bolivar (population 12,000) was established in 1764 by two Jesuits under the governorship of Joaquin de Mendoza, on the right bank of the Orinoco, and called San Tomas de la Nueva Guayana; but owing to a narrowing of the river was commonly known as Angostura. It played an important part in the national history, and Simon Bolivar was elected president there by the Congress of February, 1819; in his honor the city has been renamed Ciudad Bolivar.
A. A. MACERLEAN