Vicariate apostolic ; includes the islands of the Dutch West Indies: Curaçao, Bonaire, and Aruba; Saba, St. Eustatius, and the Dutch part of St. Martin (Leeward Islands). These islands are situated in the Caribbean Sea, the former off the Venezuelan coast, 12° N. Lat. and 69° W. long., the latter about 621 miles north-east of the former, in 18° N. lat. and 63° W. long. The former were discovered by Alonzo de Ojeda in 1499. The first missionaries were Spanish Hieronymites (Order of St. Jerome ) from Santo Domingo, whose names have been forgotten. Until 1634 Curaçao remained subject to Spain, and Spanish priests attended the mission. Two churches, one at Santa Barbara the other at Groot-Kwartier, bore witness to their zeal.
In 1634 Curaçao came into the possession of the Dutch West-Indian Company, which forbade, under severe penalties, the practice of the Catholic religion. A few Jesuits, among them Father Michael Alexius Schnabel, continued to work with success from 1701 to 1742. In 1772 Curaçao received its first prefect Apostolic, Arnold de Bruin, a secular priest. In 1776 Fathers Pirovani and Schenck, Dutch Franciscans, took up the work, but were obliged to leave it on account of the small number of priests in Holland. The last of these priests died in 1821. In 1824 M. J. Nieuwindt (d. 1860), in every respect a great man, was appointed prefect Apostolic. In 1842 Curaçao was made a vicariate Apostolic , the first vicar Apostolic being Monsignor Nieuwindt. In the same year a Catholic sisterhood came to the mission. In 1868 the vicariate was confided to the care of the Dutch Dominicans. Nine-tenths of the people, especially the lower classes, are Catholics, principally because in the past the slaves were not allowed to have the same religion as their masters (Dutch Protestants ); as they had to profess some religion, they were allowed to become Catholics. The relations between Catholics and Protestants are most peaceful. Monsignor Nieuwindt ( consecrated 1843) was succeeded as vicar Apostolic by J. F. A. Kistemaker (1860); P. H. J. A. van Ewyk (1869); C. H. J. Reynen (1886); H. A. M. Joosten (1887), and J. J. A. van Baars (1897). The Catholic population of the vicariate is about 45,000; the Protestants number 7000 and the Jews 850. There are in the vicariate 35 priests, 3 seculars and 32 regulars, principally Dominicans ; 27 brothers; 191 sisters. The parochial schools number 29, with 2626 boys and 2625 girls. There are 17 churches and 11 chapels.
The institutions under religious direction are: a college for young ladies with 70 pupils; a hospital for the insane, 114 patients; a leper hospital, 19 patients; 2 orphan asylums, 87 orphans ; a hospital, 166 patients. The theological seminary for Venezuela (Merida) is at present closed. There are 2 Catholic newspapers, the "Amigoe di Curaçao", a Dutch weekly, founded in 1883, and "La Cruz", a weekly in the Papiamento dialect of the island, founded in 1900.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online