Skip to main contentAccessibility feedback

Dear visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find helpful? Please make a gift today. Thank you. Wishing you a blessed Lenten season.

Dear visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find helpful? Please make a gift today. Thank you. Wishing you a blessed Lenten season.

Santiago de Chile

Discusses the Archdiocese and Catholic University in Chile

Click to enlarge

Santiago de Chile, Archdiocese of (SANCTI JACOBI DE CHILE), comprises the civil Provinces of Aconcagua (area 6226 square miles), Valparaiso (area 1659 square miles), Santiago (area 5223 square miles), O’Higgins (2524 square miles, this province is named after the liberator of Chile, Bernard O’Higgins), Colchagua (area 3795 square miles), Curico (area 2913 square miles), and Talcas (area 3678 square miles), and the islands of Juan Fernandez, and extends from the River Choapa, which separates it from the Diocese of Serena, to the River Maule, which forms the boundary line between it and the Diocese of Concepcion. Its area is 26,018 square miles, and its population is estimated at 1,600,000, of whom 14,000 are non-Catholics. Erected by Pius IV in 1561 as a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Lima, it comprised all of Chile and the Argentine Provinces of Cuyo and Tucuman. This extensive territory was gradually subdivided, portions being taken to form new dioceses. In 1563 the entire southern portion of Chile from the River Biobio was separated to form the Diocese of Imperial, the present Diocese of Concepcion. In 1570 Tucuman was separated to form the Diocese of Cordova, the Province of Cuyo being added in 1806. In 1840 Santiago was raised to metropolitan rank by Gregory XVI, the Diocese of Serena being also erected by him, taking from Santiago all the territory which lay north of the River Choapa. The archdiocese has three suffragan dioceses: Concepcion, Serena, and Ancud. The principal cities are: Santiago (area eight square miles), the capital of Chile, has 400,000 inhabitants; Valparaiso, 170,000; Talca, 42,000; Curico, 19,000; Quillota, 12,000; Villa del Mar, 27,000; and San Felipe, 11,000. Twenty-one bishops and four archbishops have governed the diocese, the Most Rev. Juan Ignacio Gonzalez being the present incumbent. The cathedral is a beautiful three-naved stone edifice, Roman in style; it is dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, was built in the eighteenth century, and was restored during the latter part of the nineteenth century by Archbishop Casanova. It is 321 feet long, 95 feet wide, and 52 feet high. The cathedral chapter is composed of a dean, archdeacon, precentor, mcestre escuela, treasurer, and eight canons.

The archdiocese is divided into 117 parishes. Valparaiso and Talca are governed by ecclesiastical governors who are invested with some episcopal jurisdiction. The churches and public chapels number about 481, and semi-public oratories are very numerous. There are 20 religious institutes of men, with 905 members and 76 houses, and 29 religious orders of women, with 1727 members and 120 houses. The secular clergy number 412, and the regular 451. There are three seminaries, with 43 students, and a Catholic university, with 619 students. The latter has faculties of law, engineering, mines, architecture, agriculture, and a course in engineering. The Institute of Humanities, which is attached to the university, has 400 pupils. In the secondary schools, for men as well as for women, directed by the secular clergy or members of religious institutes, 5140 students are in attendance. Primary instruction is given to more than 25,000 children in the parochial and other schools under religious direction. Normal schools for teachers are directed by the Christian Brothers, for men, and by the Salesians and the Society of St. Thomas Aquinas, for women. There are 35 hospitals in the archdiocese under the patronage of the State, the municipalities, the Church, or private individuals; 30 of these are under the care of religious, as are also the lunatic asylums and houses for deaf-mutes. The Little Sisters of the Poor conduct two homes for the aged, and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd have houses of correction for women, and ten asylums for penitents. More than 300 missions are preached annually in the archdiocese to prepare the people for complying with the Easter precept, and more than 15,000 persons make retreats in the 19 houses which are dedicated to this purpose.

Among the numerous Catholic societies may be mentioned those of Dolores (Our Lady of Sorrows), for the care of the sick; of St. Francis Regis, for the regularization of marriages; of St. Philomena, for mutual aid; St. Joseph‘s Union, for working men; the National Union, also for working men; the Society of the Buena Prensa (Good Press), the Society of Primary Instruction, for Catholic schools, under the patronage of St. Thomas Aquinas; the Federation of Social Works, for the promotion of temperance; the Centro Cristiano, for the promotion of learning; the Centro Apostolico, for aiding the missions and helping the poor of the different parishes; that of St. Jerome, for spreading a knowledge of the Holy Gospels. There are forty conferences of St. Vincent de Paul with a membership of 1200, who help more than 500 families. There are 15 patronatos dominicales in the city of Santiago, and 8 workingmen’s clubs. Several Catholic societies also exist whose object is to procure cheap and healthful homes for the families of working men, and seven parishes of the capital and of Valparaiso have houses of refuge where needy women are gratuitously housed. The Society for the Propagation of the Faith is under the direction of the Lazarists; these priests collect annually 50,000 francs. The Library Society supports a Catholic library and has been the means of establishing many others throughout the whole republic. Confraternities of all kinds, about 230 in number, flourish in all the parishes. The principal are those of the Blessed Sacrament, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Apostleship of Prayer, the Sacred Heart, the Children of Mary, the Congregation of Mary and St. Aloysius, the Most Holy Rosary, Christian Doctrine, Christian Mothers, and Peterspence.

Six diocesan synods- 1586, 1612, 1625, 1670, 1688, 1763, 1895—have been held in the archdiocese. In the latest of these (1895) all canonical legislation useful for the government of the archdiocese was collected in a code of 1888 articles: Constitutionally, the state is Catholic; other forms of religion are simply tolerated, and all public manifestation of worship on their part prohibited. Bishops, canons, parish priests, curates, and substitutes are paid by the State, which also contributes to the building of the churches pursuant to an agreement made with the Holy See, to compensate for the suppressed contribution of the diezmo, which was in force until 1853. The constitution gives the State the right of patronage, by virtue of which the president of the republic proposes to the pope the candidates for all sees, and to the bishops the candidates for canonries. The parish priests are named by the bishop, subject to the placet of the president. The Holy See does not recognize this right of patronage, which the civil power has arrogated to itself. The dioceses, churches, seminaries, chapters, cathedrals, parish churches, and religious communities established with the consent of the Government are incorporated and are legal persons. Canonical legislation is recognized in these matters, and these artificially constituted persons can acquire property to any extent. The churches, convents, schools, and charitable institutions do not pay direct taxes. The present (1911) archbishop, Msgr. Juan Inigo Gonzales Eyzaguirre, was born at Santiago de Chile, July 11, 1844; was appointed titular Bishop of Flavias, April 18, 1907: and was promoted to the archbishopric in 1909.


UNIVERSITY OF SANTIAGO.—For many years the prelates and influential Catholics of Chile, dissatisfied with the instruction given by the State University which had under its control all the secondary and higher grades, had desired to found in Santiago a free Catholic university. The Catholic Assembly of 1885 appointed a committee which in accord with the bishops formulated a plan to realize this desire. On June 21, 1888, Archbishop Mariano Casanova issued the decree founding the Catholic University and naming as its first rector D. Joaquin Larrain Gandarillas, titular Bishop of Martyropolis. The university was solemnly opened on March 31, 1889; at that time it comprised only the faculties of law and mathematics, and an institute for literary and commercial courses. There was no further addition until 1896, when mathematics was divided into the two courses of civil engineering and architecture. In 1900 the Institute of Humanities was founded, adding a department of letters to the courses at the university. The princely legacy left in 1904 by D. Frederico Scotto and his mother made possible the foundation of an industrial and agricultural school, a course of much utility in this country where scientific industry and agriculture are still in their infancy. In 1905 a sub-course of engineering was founded to fill a much felt want for the training of foremen and assistants to the engineers. The faculty of medicine, although undoubtedly the most necessary, has not yet been established, as the cost of maintaining it would be more than that of all the others combined. Up to the present time no faculty of theology has been founded, owing to various difficulties, but it will not be long before this also will be organized. The attendance in 1910 for the courses of law, mathematics, agriculture, industries, and engineering was 619, with 51 professors; and in the Institute of Humanities 400, with 44 professors. The university has chemical, physical, electrical, and mineralogical laboratories and a library of more than 30,000 volumes. Its property, movable and immovable, amounts to about five million francs.

The Catholic University, although in many respects incomplete, is beginning to exercise considerable influence in the country on account of the increasing number of students and the high standing of its professors. Many of the text books compiled by them have been adopted by the State University. Much would be added to its power and development if the state would authorize it to confer degrees which would enable those holding them to exercise the professions of lawyer, engineer, or doctor and occupy such public offices as require these decrees. Up to the present the official university reserves this right exclusively to itself, imposing at the same time its program and plan of studies on the Catholic University. Since its foundation the university has had three rectors. The first was the titular Bishop of Martyropolis later created Archbishop of Anazarba, D. Joaquin Larrain Gandarillas, the most eminent of the educators of Chile, for to him principally is due the foundation of the seminary and the Catholic University of Santiago. He devoted his entire private fortune and that of many of his relatives to the maintenance of these two great works. The second was the titular Bishop of Amatonte, D. Jorge Montes, who on account of poor health was obliged to resign shortly after his appointment. The third is the Rev. Rodolfo Vergara Antimez, journalist, orator, poet, and author of various historic and didactic works which have attracted considerable notice. Among the most noted professors of the university may be mentioned: D. Abdon Cifuentes, senator and Minister of State, who has devoted his entire life to working for the freedom and the progress of private education; D. Clemente Fabres, D. Carlos Risopatron, D. Ventura Blanco Viel, D. Ramon Gutierrez, D. Enrique Richard Fontecilla, all noted jurists and public men; D. Joaquin Walker Martinez, Chilian representative to the United States and the Argentine Republic, parliamentary orator and statesman; D. Miguel Cruchaga, author of a treatise on international law; D. Luis Barros Mendez, litterateur; D. Francisco de Borja Echeverria, economist and sociologist; Canon Esteban Munoz Donaso, orator and poet; and Rev. Ramon Angel Jara, the present Bishop of Serena.


Did you like this content? Please help keep us ad-free
Enjoying this content?  Please support our mission!