The Philippines A Catholic enclave in East Asia

The conversion of the Philippines constitutes a remarkable chapter in the history of Christianity in East Asia. By the mid-seventeenth century, only two or three generations after the Spanish conquest, most of the principal islands in the archipelago, except for the Muslim-controlled regions of Mindanao and the uplands of northern Luzon, had become permanently Christian. The Philippines thus formed an early Catholic enclave within the larger non-Christian world of Asia.

Crucial to the spiritual conquest ofthe Philippines were the friar missionaries who had arrived with the early Spanish colonizers. In addition to the friars, the Jesuits also played a part in the rapid conversion of the Philippines. It should be noted that the religious institutes in the Philippines received their personnel almost entirely from Spain and to a lesser extent Mexico. In time each of the orders established a Philippine province under a provincial superior based in Manila. The Philippine provinces of the friars comprised not only the territories under their care in the archipelago but also their respective missions on the Asian mainland.

Besides the provinces of the religious orders, the secular clergy was also established in the decades after the conquest. In 1595 Pope Clement VIII had raised the diocese of Manila to the status of an archdiocese and created three new dioceses: Nueva Caceres (now the city of Naga), Nueva Segovia

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