Archdiocese of Cebu

Archidioecesis Nominis Iesu o Caebuana

  • Arkidiyosesis sa Labing Balaan nga Ngalan ni Hesus sa Sugbo
  • Arkidiyosesis ng Cebu
  • Arquidiócesis del Santísimo Nombre de Jesús de Cebú
Coat of arms, 2022 design
Country Philippines
Ecclesiastical provinceCebu
Coordinates10°17′45″N 123°54′11″E / 10.2958°N 123.9030°E / 10.2958; 123.9030
Area5,088 km2 (1,964 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2021)
4,621,792[1] (87%)
Sui iuris churchLatin Church
RiteRoman Rite
  • August 14, 1595; 428 years ago (August 14, 1595) (Diocese)
  • April 28, 1934; 89 years ago (April 28, 1934) (Archdiocese)
CathedralMetropolitan Cathedral and Parish of St. Vitalis and of the Immaculate Conception
Patron saint
Secular priests362
Current leadership
Metropolitan ArchbishopJose Serofia Palma
Auxiliary Bishops
  • Midyphil B. Billones
  • Ruben C. Labajo
Vicar GeneralVicente Rey Penagunda Rogelio Fuentes
Bishops emeritus
Jurisdiction of the metropolitan see within the Philippines.
Jurisdiction of the metropolitan see within the Philippines.

The Archdiocese of Cebu (more formally the Archdiocese of the Most Holy Name of Jesus in Cebu; Latin: Archidioecesis Nominis Iesu o Caebuana; Filipino: Arkidiyosesis ng Cebu; Cebuano: Arkidiyosesis sa Labing Balaan nga Ngalan ni Hesus sa Sugbo; Spanish: Arquidiocesis del Santisimo Nombre de Jesus de Cebu) is a Latin Church archdiocese of the Catholic Church in the Philippines and one of the ecclesiastical provinces of the Catholic Church in the country. It is composed of the entire civil province of Cebu (and the nearby islands of Mactan, Bantayan, and Camotes).[4][5][6][7][8] The jurisdiction, Cebu, is considered as the fount of Christianity in the Far East.[9]

The seat of the archdiocese is the Metropolitan Cathedral and Parish of St. Vitalis and of the Immaculate Conception, more commonly known as the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. The archdiocese honors Our Lady of Guadalupe de Cebú as its patroness, Vitalis of Milan as its patron and titular saint, and Pedro Calungsod (the second Filipino saint) as its secondary patron saint. The archbishop is José Serofia Palma, who was installed on January 13, 2011. As of 2013, the archdiocese registered a total of 4,609,590 baptized Catholics.[10]

Ecclesiastical province

The ecclesiastical province of Cebu comprises the metropolitan's own archbishopric and the following suffragan sees:


Magellan's arrival and antecedents

The history of the future Archdiocese of Cebu began with the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in Cebu in 1521.[11] The church anchored in that year[12] by the native Cebuanos' profession of faith in Christ,[13] baptism,[14] the daily celebration of the Mass,[15] and the chaplain of the expedition, Pedro Valderrama being the legitimate pastor for their spiritual needs.

In Cebu the first baptism was made (April 14, 1521); hence, Rajah Humabon and the rest of the natives became the very first Filipino Christians. In the island also was the first Mass in which Filipino converts participated. Also in the territory the first resistance against the Mohammedan advance from the south.[16] The first Philippine Christian feast dedicated to the Sto. Niño was instituted and celebrated there. The first recorded confession and the last rites of an accused inhabitant transpired.[17] The very first temples were erected (the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica del Santo Niño) in the Philippines.[18] The first Christian marriage transpired with Isabel, the niece of Rajah Tupas and Andres, the Greek caulker of Legazpi, and their children baptized representing the first infant baptisms.[19]

However, immediately after its inception during the aftermath of the Battle of Mactan, the Church of Cebu experienced decadence due to lack of shepherds to enforce and edify the natives on the faith. Most of the natives materially apostatized, while others clung unto the image of the Santo Niño (the first Christian icon in the Philippines given as a baptismal gift by Magellan). The unintended negligence lasted for 44 years until it was re-established in 1565 by the arrival of Miguel López de Legazpi and Fray Andrés de Urdaneta. The remnant of the Cebuano Church in 1521, as evident in the person of Rajah Tupas, was resuscitated by the Augustinians as an abbey nullius (an equivalent of a diocese)[20] when the formal evangelization of the Philippines commenced with Urdaneta as the first prelate.[21][22][23] The oversight of the natives was then succeeded to Fray Diego de Herrera who would later re-baptized Tupas and his servants in 1568. Adelantado Miguel Lopez de Legazpi established his government in Cebu, thus the first capital of the Philippines.

The church expanded from Cebu when the remaining missionaries led by Diego de Herrera were forced northwest temporarily due to conflict with the Portuguese and laid the foundations of the Christian community in Panay in around 1569.[4][7] In 1570, the second batch of missionaries reached Cebu. The island became the ecclesiastical "seat" as it was the center for evangelization. A notable missionary was Alfonso Jimenez, who travelled and penetrated the Camarines region through the islands of Masbate, Leyte, Samar, and Burias and founded the church there. He was called the first apostle of the region.[4][7]

By 1571, Herrera who was assigned as chaplain of Legazpi, from Panay advanced further north and founded the local church community in Manila. There, Legazpi transferred the seat of government though Cebu remained the spiritual capital of the country.[4][7] In 1572, the Spaniards led by Juan de Salcedo marched from Manila further north with the second batch of Augustinian missionaries and pioneered the evangelization to the communities in the Ilocos (starting with Vigan) and the Cagayan regions.[4][7]

Diocese of Cebu

On February 6, 1579, the Philippines' first diocese, the Diocese of Manila, was established as a suffragan of the See of Mexico. On August 14, 1595, Pope Clement VIII issued four bulls to Spain: one with the incipit Super universas orbis ecclesias[24][unreliable source] elevating the See of Manila to a metropolitan archdiocese; and three with the incipit Super specula militantis Ecclesiae[25][unreliable source] erecting the three suffragan dioceses of Manila, which were the Diocese of Cebu, the Diocese of Nueva Cáceres, and the Diocese of Nueva Segovia.[26] The Diocese of Cebu's first bishop was Pedro de Agurto, an Augustinian.[4][26] As a diocese, Cebú had a very extensive territory which then included the whole of the Visayas, Mindanao[11] and "more southern islands";[27] also it extended farther to the Pacific such as the Marianas,[28] Carolines, and Palau.[29]

However, it lost territory repeatedly:

Archdiocese of Cebu

On April 28, 1934, Pope Pius XI promulgated an apostolic constitution with the incipit Romanorum Pontificum semper separating the dioceses of Cebu, Calbayog, Jaro, Bacolod, Zamboanga and Cagayan de Oro from the ecclesiastical province of Manila. The same constitution elevated the diocese into an archdiocese while placing all the newly separated dioceses under a new ecclesiastical province with Cebu as the new metropolitan see.[30] The last suffragan bishop, Gabriel M. Reyes, was promoted as its first archbishop.

On November 8, 1941, it lost territory to establish Diocese of Tagbilaran as its suffragan.

Cebu was visited by Pope John Paul II in February 1981. In his Homily for Families (February 19, 1981), the supreme pontiff called the island as the birthplace of the faith:

Finding myself in this important city known as the cradle of Christianity in the Philippines, I want to express my deep joy and profound thanksgiving to the Lord of history. The thought that for 450 years the light of the Gospel has shone with undimmed brightness in this land and on its people is cause for great rejoicing.[31]

Between November 10, 1985, and March 1, 1986, the archdiocese held its Fourth Diocesan Synod of Cebu at the Seminaryo Mayor de San Carlos.

It hosted the 51st International Eucharistic Congress from January 24 to 31, 2016.

Sugbuswak: Division to three dioceses

Plans to divide the Archdiocese of Cebu was first laid during the pastoral leadership of Cardinal Julio Rosales.[32] It was raised again on August 20, 2002, during the pastoral leadership of then-Archbishop Cardinal Ricardo Vidal.[33]

The plan was revived again on December 31, 2022, when Archbishop Jose S. Palma announced a feasibility study on the planned division of the archdiocese, during the Watchnight Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.[34] The archdiocese coined the term "Sugbuswak", derived from "Cebu" and the Cebuano word "buswak", referring to the flowering or blossoming of new dioceses.[9] The plan calls for the erection of two new suffragan dioceses in Carcar, which would cover the northern part of the civil province of Cebu; and in Danao, covering the southern part of the province. The territory of the metropolitan archdiocese would be reduced to the central part of the province, including Cebu City and its neighboring towns, as well as the island of Mactan.[33] The plan aims for better pastoral management in churches.[32]

During its 126th Plenary Assembly in Kalibo, Aklan in July 2023, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) unanimously approved the planned division of the Archdiocese of Cebu. It also received support from the Cebuano people.[35] Archbishop Palma and the CBCP is set to present the proposal to the Holy See on March 11, 2024.[36]

Coat of arms

The coat of arms used from 2009 to 2022

The ecclesiastical arms of the Archdiocese of Cebu was redesigned by a professional Italian heraldic artist, Sig. Marco Foppoli, as commissioned by the priests-secretaries of the Office of the Archbishop in the first quarter of 2021, with the facilitation and benefaction of Jan Thomas V. Limchua.

The re-designed coat of arms of the archdiocese consists of a simple yet traditional shield, which is the most commonly used form in ecclesiastical heraldry. In a chapé ("mantled") ployé partition, which is formed by two arched lines drawn from the center chief to the sides, the shield itself is divided into two fields: the upper field, in red (gules); and the lower field, in blue (azure).

The upper field of red represents the Niño de Cebu (Bato Balani sa Gugma, or Magnet of Love), whose very image, which at first was a gift during the first baptism five hundred years ago, has now become the symbol of the Catohlic faith in Cebu.

On this same field are two lions: the first lion, in gold, is emblazoned with the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Castile; while the other, in silver, is emblazoned with the personal coat of arms of Ferdinand Magellan—these two elements were present in the original coat of arms granted to the archdiocese. Both refer to the Hispanic origin and nascent beginning of Catholicism in Cebu, the cradle of Christianity in the Philippines.

These two lions support the stylized monogram of the Holy Name of Jesus inside a stylized image of the sun—symbolizing Christ as the light of the world. It is deliberately placed at the top center of the arm, representing the titular of the archdiocese. It also recalls the life and ministry of Jesus in the words of Paul (Letter to the Philippians): "…he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2:7–11)

The field of red also honors the Visayan Proto-Martyr, Pedro Calungsod.

The lower field of blue symbolizes Our Lady and her motherly mantle of love and compassion for the Cebuano faithful as also portrayed by the monogram "Auspice Maria" (Under the Protection of Mary) with a gold crown (above), a silver crescent (below), and gold gloriole (around the monogram). This imagery specifically refers to her image and title, Our Lady of Guadalupe de Cebu, through whose intercession, and by God's grace flowing from above, has saved Cebu from the cholera epidemic of 1902. On 16 July 2006, Virgen de Guadalupe de Cebu was canonically crowned by the authority of Pope Benedict XVI as patroness of the archdiocese.

The upward, arrow tip-like shape of the blue field can be understood as a reminder to the Cebuano faithful that a deep devotion to the Virgin Mary inevitably leads to a greater love for her Divine Son, Our Lord. This is reminiscent of the traditional aphorism, "Ad Jesum per Mariam" (to Jesus, through Mary).

The entire shield is surmounted by the conventional heraldic elements identifying it to be the coat of arms of an archdiocese, namely a miter, and the crossed crozier and archiepiscopal cross.

Written on a scroll, below the arms, is the Motto of the Archdiocese: "Sanctum Nomen Eius," which means "Holy is His Name," taken from Mary's Magnificat (Luke 1:49).[37]


Prelates of Cebu

[note 1]

Suffragan bishops of Cebu

Metropolitan archbishops of Cebu

List of metropolitan archbishops of Cebu
Bishop Period in office Coat of arms Notes
1. Gabriel M. Reyes April 28, 1934 – August 25, 1949
(15 years, 119 days)
Appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Manila & Titular Archbishop of Phulli
2. Cardinal Julio Rosales y Ras December 17, 1949 – August 24, 1982
(32 years, 250 days)
Created Cardinal by Pope Paul VI on April 28, 1969
3. Cardinal Ricardo Vidal August 24, 1982 – October 15, 2010
(28 years, 52 days)
Created Cardinal by Pope John Paul II on May 25, 1985
4. Jose S. Palma January 13, 2011–present
(13 years, 134 days)

Auxiliary bishops

List of auxiliary bishops of the archdiocese of Cebu
Bishop Period in office Titular see Coat of arms Notes
1. Juan Durán 1680 -1681 Zenopolis in Lycia
2. Juan Bautista Gorordo y Perfecto 1909–1910 Nilopolis Succeeded as Bishop of Cebu
3. Manuel Sandalo Salvador 1960–1969 Nasbinca
Zarna (As Titular Archbishop)
4. Nicolas Mollenedo Mondejar 1970–1974 Grumentum Appointed Bishop of Romblon
5. Jesus Armamento Dosado 1977–1979 Nabala Appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Cagayan de Oro, later Archbishop of Ozamis
6. Angel Nacorda Lagdameo 1980–1986 Oreto Appointed Bishop of Dumaguete
7. Camilo Diaz Gregorio 1987–1989 Girus Appointed Bishop of Bacolod
8. Leopoldo Sumaylo Tumulak 1987–1992 Lesvi Appointed Bishop of Tagbilaran
9. Emilio Layon Bataclan 1990–1995; 2004–2015 Gunela (1900–1995)
Septimunicia (2004–2015)
Appointed Bishop of Iligan, Reappointed as Auxiliary Bishop of Cebu
10. Antonio Racelis Rañola 1990–2003 Claternae
11. Jose Serofia Palma 1997–1999 Vazari-Didda Appointed Bishop of Calbayog, later Archbishop of Cebu
12. Precioso Dacalos Cantillas 1995–1998 Vicus Caesaris Appointed Bishop of Maasin
13. John Forrosuelo Du 1997–2001 Timici Appointed Bishop of Dumaguete; later Archbishop of Palo
14. Antonieto Dumagan Cabajog 1999–2001 Reperi Appointed Bishop of Surigao
15. Julito Buhisan Cortes 2001–2013 Severiana Appointed Bishop of Dumaguete
16. Isabelo Caiban Abarquez 2002–2004 Talaptula Appointed Bishop of Calbayog
17. Oscar Jaime Llaneta Florencio 2015–2019 Lestrona Appointed Bishop of the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines
18. Dennis Cabanada Villarojo 2015–2019 Gisipa Appointed Bishop of Malolos
19. Midyphil Bermejo Billones 2019–present Tagarata
20. Ruben Caballero Labajo 2022–present Abbir Maius
Basilica Minore Sto. Niño, Cebu City.

Diocesan Seminaries

Rector: Allan Delima

Rector: Joseph Tan

Rector: Mhar Balili

Director: Alvin Raypan

Archdiocesan Calendar

The Calendar of the Archdiocese of Cebu is based on the General Roman Calendar and the Philippine Standard Calendar. Below are the following additions and changes to the calendar.

See also


  1. ^ "Cebu (Catholic Metropolitan Archdiocese)". Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  2. ^ "Most Rev. Antonia R. Rañola, D.D." Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines. Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  3. ^ "Rinunce e nomine" [Resignations and Appointments] (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. October 1, 2015. B0746. Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Pangan, J.K. (September 16, 2014). "Cebu—Cradle of the Philippine Church and Seat of Far-East Christianity" (PDF). International Eucharistic Congress 2016. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  6. ^ The Church of Cebu's Basilica del Santo Niño is named by the Vatican as "mother and head of all churches in the Philippines" (mater et caput... omnium ecclesiarum Insularum Philippinarum). See
  7. ^ a b c d e John Kingsley Pangan, Church of the Far East (Makati: St. Pauls, 2016),
  8. ^ "Cebu & Philippines". July 2014.
  9. ^ a b Mayol, Ador Vincent (January 25, 2023). "Cebu archdiocese, biggest in PH, to be split into 3". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved February 24, 2024.
  10. ^ "Cebu (Archdiocese)". David M. Cheney. March 17, 2023.
  11. ^ a b "History : The Official Website of Cebu Archdiocese". Archived from the original on August 13, 2010. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  12. ^ Carmelo D. F. Morelos, "'Go… Make Disciples!' – A Pastoral Letter on the Fourth Centenary of the Archdioceses of Manila, Cebu, Cáceres, Nueva Segovia," Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, January 29, 1994, accessed September 6, 2014,
  13. ^ Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan's Voyage Around the World, vol. 1, trans. James Alexander Robertson (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1906), 159.
  14. ^ Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan's Voyage Around the World, vol. 1, trans. James Alexander Robertson (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1906), 151–155.
  15. ^ Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan's Voyage Around the World, vol. 1, trans. James Alexander Robertson (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1906), 157.
  16. ^ Juan de Medina, OSA, "Historia de la Orden de San Agustin de estas Islas Filipinas," in The Philippine Islands 1493–1803, vol. 23, eds. Emma H. Blair, James A. Robertson (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1903), 185.
  17. ^ Résumé of Documents, 153.
  18. ^ Astrid Sala-Boza, "The Contested Site of the Finding of the Holy Child: Villa San Miguel or San Nicolas (Cebu El Viejo)," Philippine Quarterly of Culture Society 34, (2006): 232.; The Philippine Islands, 1493–1803, vol. 2, eds. Emma Helen Blair, James Alexander Robertson (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1903), 121.
  19. ^ Résumé of Documents, 140–141.
  20. ^
  21. ^ The Philippine Islands, 1493–1803, vol. 2, eds. Emma Helen Blair, James Alexander Robertson (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1903), 33, note 5.
  22. ^ Blair, Emma Helen; Robertson, James Alexander, eds. (1903). The Philippine Islands, 1493–1803 vol. 2. Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company. p. 168.
  23. ^ Bartholomé de Letona, OSF, The Philippine Islands, 1493–1803, vol. 36, eds. Emma Helen Blair, James Alexander Robertson (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1906), 210.
  24. ^ Siniculus. "Dei praesidio fultus: Philippine Bullary I".
  25. ^ Siniculus. "Dei praesidio fultus: Philippine Bullary II".
  26. ^ a b Philippine Star: "Fray Pedro de Agurto, OSA: The first Bishop of Cebu" By Fr. Ric Anthony Reyes, OSA (The Freeman) October 12, 2014
  27. ^ The Philippine Islands, 1493–1898 — Volume 12 of 55 Summary.
  28. ^ "Archdiocese of Cebu, Philippines".
  29. ^ Felipe Redondo y Sendino, Breve reseña de lo que fue y de lo que es la Diócesis de Cebú en las Islas Filipinas, trans. Azucena L. Pace (Cebu City: University of San Carlos Press, 2014), Breve Reseña, 74.
  30. ^ Pope Pius XI, Apostolic Constitution separating some dioceses from the ecclesiastical province of Manila to form the new ecclesiastical province of Cebu Romanorum Pontificum semper (April 28, 1934), Acta Apostolicae Sedis 27 (1935), pp.263–264. PROVINCIA ECCLESIASTICA MANILANA DISMEMBRATIO ET NOVA CAEBUANA PROVINCIA ERIGITUR.
  31. ^ "19 February 1981: Mass for families, Cebu City, Philippines | John Paul II".
  32. ^ a b Limpag, Max (September 26, 2023). "Don't rush breakup of Archdiocese of Cebu, some Cebu priests say". Retrieved February 24, 2024.
  33. ^ a b Limpag, Max (November 21, 2023). "Cebu clergy, lay finalize proposal to break up Archdiocese of Cebu". Retrieved February 24, 2024.
  34. ^ "'Sugbuswak' talks continue on new Cebu diocese in Danao City". GMA Regional TV. January 3, 2024. Retrieved February 24, 2024.
  35. ^ Saavedra, John Rey (February 14, 2024). "Cebuanos support Archdiocese's split". Philippine News Agency. Retrieved February 24, 2024.
  36. ^ "Pope Seen to greenlight a proposal to create two new Cebu dioceses, says Archbishop Palma". Radio Veritas Asia. February 19, 2024. Retrieved February 24, 2024.
  37. ^ "The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cebu updated their profile picture". The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cebu. Retrieved November 6, 2022 – via Facebook.
  38. ^ Bartolomé de Letona, OSF (1662), "Description of the Filipinas Islands" in The Philippine Islands, 1493–1803, vol. 34, eds. Emma H. Blair and James A. Robertson (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1906), 208. "The Order of St. Augustine entered the islands in the year [1]565; its first superior, and first prelate of all the islands was Fray Andres de Urdaneta – a Vascongado,40 and a son of the convent and province of Mexico; he was the apostle who unfurled the gospel banner, and he planted the faith in the island of Zebu' and others."
  39. ^ Bibliography on Legazpi and Urdaneta, Isacio R. Rodriguez, Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints(Ateneo de Manila University:1965).
  40. ^ The Philippine Islands 1493–1803, vol. 23, eds. Emma H. Blair, James A. Robertson (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1903), 209. "In April of the year 1565, there was founded in Zebu (afterward being transferred to Manila) the church and ecclesiastical community of these islands; and its ordinary jurisdiction was allotted to the superiors of the Order of St. Augustine, who were the founders and apostles of this kingdom; they held that dignity up to the year of [15]77".


  1. ^ The religious superiors, in this case the Augustinians in Cebu, functioned as ordinaries in mission territories with no diocese through the papal bull Omnimodam auctoritatem nostram made by Pope Adrian VI. Thus, consequently making the first Augustinian superiors as Prelates of Cebu. Their prelacy are more historical than canonical. The modern equivalent of this is a Territorial Superior. See more in

Sources and external links