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Diocese of San Juan

Argentine Republic at the foot of the Cordillera of the Andes

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San Juan, Diocese of (SANCTI JOAN NIS DE Cuyo), in the Argentine Republic at the foot of the Cordillera of the Andes between 28° and 41° S. lat. It is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires and comprises the civil Provinces of San Juan, Mendoza, and San Luis, and the national district of Neuquen, has an area of 151,096 sq. miles and a population of 540,000. These provinces were a part of the Archdiocese of Santiago de Chile until 1776, when they passed under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Cordoba. In 1826 they were constituted into a vicariate Apostolic, and on September 19, 1834, Gregory XVI erected the Diocese of San Juan de Cuyo. The first bishop was Fray Justo de Santa Maria de Oro, a prominent figure in the history of Argentina. He was the representative from San Juan to the Congress of Tucuman, which, on July 9, 1816, proclaimed the independence of Argentina, and in this assemblage distinguished himself by resolutely opposing the monarchical form of government for the infant nation. He died in 1838, and a handsome bronze statue has been erected to him in the principal square of the city of San Juan. He was succeeded by: Jose Manuel Eufracio de Quiroga Sarmiento, who died on January 25, 1852; Fray Nicolas Aldazor, died in 1866; Fray Jose Wenceslav Achaval, who founded the seminary and established the cathedral chapter, and died on February 25, 1898; and the present incumbent, Fray Marcolino del Carmelo Benavente, to whom is due the erection of the statue of Christ the Redeemer at the crest of the Andes, on the boundary line between Chile and Argentina, as a symbol of peace and good will between the two nations. Msgr. Benavente was born at Buenos Aires on August 17, 1845; entered the Dominicans, and was appointed bishop on January 7, 1899. There are four Catholic primary schools for boys, seventeen schools for girls, and one Catholic agricultural college in the diocese. A Catholic daily paper, “El Porvenir”, is published at San Juan, and ranks highest among the daily papers of the entire province. There are one or more confraternities attached to all parish churches to encourage piety and devotion. Among the notable edifices of the diocese may be mentioned: the episcopal palace and the Church of San Domingo in San Juan; those of San Francisco, Sagrado Corazon, and Godoy Cruz in Mendoza; and the Matriz of San Luis. At the present time a project has been laid before the National Congress to divide this diocese into three, viz., San Juan, San Luis, and Mendoza.


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