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Archdiocese of Zamboanga

Archidiocesis Zamboangensis

Arquidiócesis de Zamboanga
Arkidiyosesis ng Zamboanga
Coat of arms
Country Philippines
TerritoryZamboanga City
Ecclesiastical provinceZamboanga
Area1,638 km2 (632 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2020)
774,800 (72.5%)
Parishes28 (with 1 quasi-parish)
DenominationRoman Catholic
Sui iuris churchLatin Church
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedApril 10, 1910 (as diocese)
May 15, 1958 (as archdiocese)
CathedralMetropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Patron saintOur Lady of the Pillar
Secular priests57
LanguageChavacano, Cebuano, Ilonggo, Tausug, Tagalog
Current leadership
Metropolitan ArchbishopJulius Sullan Tonel
Vicar GeneralRizalino G. Francisco, Jr.
Jurisdiction of the metropolitan see within the Philippines.
Jurisdiction of the metropolitan see within the Philippines.

The Archdiocese of Zamboanga (Latin name: Archidiocesis Zamboangensis) is a Catholic archdiocese in the Philippines. Its present jurisdiction includes Zamboanga City, with suffragans in Basilan (Territorial Prelature of Isabela), Zamboanga Sibugay (Diocese of Ipil), and the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo. It became Mindanao's first diocese in 1910, and was established as the second archdiocese of Mindanao in 1958. Today, the archdiocese covers a land area of 1,648 square kilometers and has a population of 442,345, of which 81 percent are Catholics. The archdiocese includes 28 parishes and one quasi-parish, served by 57 diocesan and 18 religious priests. There are also 51 religious sisters working in the archdiocese.


From 1607 to 1910, the entire island of Mindanao was under the Diocese of Cebu and Jaro. On April 10, 1910, Pope Pius X created the Diocese of Zamboanga, implementing the provisions laid down by his predecessor, Pope Leo XIII in the latter's 1902 apostolic constitution Quae Mari Sinico. [1] Pope Pius X decreed, through the Sacred Consistorial Congregation, that four episcopal sees in the Philippines be created (Lipa, Calbayog, Tuguegarao, and Zamboanga), with the apostolic prefecture of Palawan, as suffragans to the metropolitan Church of Manila.[2] This diocese would be given jurisdiction over the whole island of Mindanao, including the adjacent islands of the Sulu Archipelago and the island of Cagayan de Sulu.

The Catholic faith was brought to Zamboanga by Jesuit missionaries Melchor de Vera and Alejandro Lopez in 1635. The efforts of the Spanish authorities to subdue the Muslims resulted in reprisal raids in Zamboanga and the Visayan islands. In 1636, Fort Pilar, in honor of Our Lady of the Pillar, was constructed by priest-engineer de Vera. The Jesuit priests Francesco Palliola and Alejandro Lopez died as martyrs in their efforts to win the tribespeople through diplomacy. The establishment of Fort Pilar gave birth to the future city of Zamboanga.

On January 20, 1933, Pope Pius XI divided Mindanao into two areas. Southern Mindanao including the Sulu Archipelago became under the jurisdiction of Zamboanga. Northern Mindanao became under the Diocese of Cagayan de Oro.

On April 28, 1934, 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 of Cebu into an archdiocese while placing all the newly separated dioceses under a new ecclesiastical province with Cebu as the new metropolitan see.[3]

In 1951, Cagayan de Oro became an archdiocese, the first in the island of Mindanao. All episcopal jurisdictions in Mindanao and Sulu, including Zamboanga, became suffragans of this archdiocese.

The Diocese of Zamboanga was further divided when the Prelature Nullius of Davao was established and separated in 1949; the Prelature of Cotabato in 1950; the Prelature of Isabela, Basilan, in 1963; and the Prelature of Ipil in 1979.

Zamboanga was established as an archdiocese on May 15, 1958, by Pope Pius XII, with the appointment of Bishop Luis Del Rosario, SJ, as its first Metropolitan Archbishop.[4][5] As an ecclesiastical province, the Archdiocese of Zamboanga included Zamboanga City and had as suffragans the Prelature of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay, the Prelature of Isabela in Basilan and the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo. Its titular patroness is Our Lady of the Pillar, and its secondary patron is Saint Pius X.

The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines adopted the Community of Disciples as the prime model of the Church, with focus on being a Church of the Poor. The challenge for the archdiocese in Zamboanga is to incarnate the vision of PCP II.

An Archdiocesan Pastoral Assembly was held early in 1995, formalizing preparations for the Second Archdiocesan Pastoral Assembly of Zamboanga in 1996.

Among the Catholic institutions in the Archdiocese of Zamboanga are four colleges, six secondary schools, six elementary schools, and eight kindergarten schools. Charitable and social institutions include a leprosarium, five free clinics, one orphanage and one child center.

In 2010, the Zamboanga archdiocese celebrated the 100th anniversary of its establishment as the first diocese in Mindanao with a commemorative celebration of the Holy Eucharist on April 12, 2010, presided by then Archbishop Romulo Valles. The 50th or golden anniversary of its establishment as an archdiocese (1958–2008) was part of this celebration.

Suffragan Diocese Territorial Prelature and Apostolic Vicariate


Bishop of Zamboanga (1910–1958)

Bishop Period in Office Coat of Arms
1. Charles Warren Currier 1910, did not take effect
2. Michael James O'Doherty 1911–1916
3. James Paul McCloskey 1917–1920
4. José Clos y Pagés 1920–1931
5. Luis Del Rosario, SJ 1933–1958

Archbishop of Zamboanga (1958–present)

Bishop Period in Office Coat of Arms
1. Luis Del Rosario, SJ 1933–1958
2. Lino Gonzaga y Rasdesales 1966–1973
3. Francisco Raval Cruces 1973–1994
4. Carmelo Dominador Flores Morelos 1994–2006
5. Romulo Valles 2006–2012
6. Romulo de la Cruz 2014–2021[6]
7. Julius S. Tonel 2023–

Auxiliary bishops

Feasts proper to the Archdiocese of Zamboanga

August 21 – Memorial of Saint Pius X, pope and secondary patron of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga[10]

October 12 – Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Pillar (Nuestra Señora Virgen del Pilar), Patroness of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga

See also


  1. ^ "Introduction: Quae Mari Sinico and the Church in Disarray", by Daniel Franklin E. Pilario, CM. Philippine Local Churches After the Spanish Regime: Quae Mari Sinico and Beyond. Daniel Franklin Pilario, CM and Gerardo Vibar, CM, eds. Quezon City, Philippines: St. Vincent School of Theology, Adamson University [2015], p. 5; cf. also, “Leo XIII, Apostolic Constitution Quae Mari Sinico (English text)”, p. 210.
  2. ^ "SSmus. Dominus Noster Pius PP. X, decreto Sacrae Congregationis Consistorialis, erexit... 10 aprilis 1910. — Erexit in Insulis Philippinis quatuor novas sedes episcopales: Lipensem (Lipa), Calbayoganam (Calbayog), Tuguegaraoanam (Tuguegarao), Zamboangensem et novam prefecturam apostolicam Palawanam easque suffraganeas constituit metropolitanae ecclesiae Manilanae." IV. Erectiones Diocaesum, S. Congregatio Consistorialis. Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Commentarium Officiale, Annus II, Volumen II, Romae, Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, MDCCCCX, p. 290. Also, see "Erectiones Diocesum", Archdiocese of Zamboanga, 90th Anniversary, 1910-2000 (coffee-table book). Zamboanga: Astoria Printing & Publications Co., ZC, copyright 2000, no page indicated. Cf. "The Vast See", La Parroquia: The Catholic Church in Zamboanga, 1910-2010, Aireen Barrios Arnuco,, eds. Zamboanga: Ateneo de Zamboanga University Press, 2011, p. 23.
  3. ^ 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 (28 April 1934), Acta Apostolicae Sedis 27 (1935), pp.263–264. PROVINCIA ECCLESIASTICA MANILANA DISMEMBRATIO ET NOVA CAEBUANA PROVINCIA ERIGITUR.
  4. ^ “Dein Sanctissimus per Apostolicas sub plumbo Litteras iam renunciatos sacrorum Antistites publicavit, videlicet… Zamboangensem, dioecesi in archidioecesim evecta, Aloisium Dei Rosario, iam Episcopum eiusdem dioecesis.” Acta Pii Pp. XII Sacra Consistoria, Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Commentarium Officiale. Annus L - Series II - Vol. XXV. Typis Polyglottis, Vaticanis, MDCCCCLVIII, pp. 394, 402. Also, “Tum personaliter S. Pallium postulaverunt pro sua Ecclesia Metropolitana Antistites… Per Procuratorem autem facta est Postulatio Palliorum… Zamboangensi (per elevationem sedis).”   VL - Postulatio Palliorum, ibid., pp. 439-440.  
  5. ^ "On 19 May 1958—forty-eight years after the local Church of Zamboanga became a Diocese and twenty-five years after Fr. Luis V. del Rosario, SJ, was appointed its fourth bishop—Pope Pius XII raised the Diocese of Zamboanga to the stature of Archdiocese. Bishop Del Rosario served as the first Archbishop of Zamboanga for the next eight years thence." Part Seven, Parishes, Prelatures, and Religious Communities. La Parroquia, p. 104. While reviewing the document in Latin for the elevation of Zamboanga as an Archdiocese (cf. Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Annus L - Series II - Vol. XXV. Typis Polyglottis, Vaticanis, MDCCCCLVIII), the decree was published on 9 June 1958. Documentary evidence affirming the establishment of Zamboanga as an Archdiocese on the 19th of May is yet to be established.
  6. ^ "Zamboanga's Archbishop De la Cruz dies at 74". CBCP News. 11 December 2021. Retrieved 2021-12-11.
  7. ^ "Bishop Antonio Realubin Tobias [Catholic-Hierarchy]". Retrieved 2021-11-12.
  8. ^ "Pope Francis appoints Fr. Moises Cuevas auxiliary bishop of Zamboanga". Manila Bulletin News. Retrieved 2020-06-18.
  9. ^ "Pope names Bishop Cuevas as Zamboanga's apostolic administrator". CBCP News. 12 August 2021. Retrieved 2021-08-12.
  10. ^ Diwa, Genaro, ed. (2020). ORDO 2021: The Order of Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours and the Celebration of the Eucharist for the Dioceses of the Philippines, Cycle B, Year I. Intramuros, Manila: Episcopal Commission on Liturgy (CBCP); Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission of Manila. pp. 158, 188.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Diocese of Zamboanga". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

6°54′32″N 122°04′34″E / 6.9089°N 122.0760°E / 6.9089; 122.0760