Diocese in the Madeira Islands. Both in neo-Latin and in Portuguese the name of the town signifies "fennel" (Latin foenicularium ). Madeira, the Purpuraria of the Romans, situated in the extreme west of the ancient world, about 440 miles from the coast of Morocco, was discovered in 1344 by the famous Bristol lovers ( Amantes de Bristol ), Anna Dorset and Robert O'Machin; later it was abandoned. In 1419 Joan Gonçales and Tristan Vaz took possession of the island. In 1445 were first planted the vines (brought from Crete) that have since rendered Madeira so famous. The Christian inhabitants were subject at first to the bishop of Tangier, until Leo X (16 June, 1514) made Funchal an episcopal see. In the interest of the vast territories in Africa and Asia then subject to Portugal, Clement VII (8 July, 1539) raised Funchal to archiepiscopal rank, and gave it for suffragans Angra, Cabo Verde, Goa, and Santo Thomé. In 1551, however; it was reduced to simple episcopal rank, and 1570 was made a suffragan of Lisbon, which it is to be present.
Funchal is delightfully situated on the south side of the Madeira Islands, and was therefore the first halting place for Portuguese and Spanish ships on their way to the New World. Owing to this natural advantage the island soon became a great centre of wealth and foreign trade, likewise an important centre for the spread of the gospel whose missionaries found the islands convenient as a resting-place going and coming. Funchal was once to the Portuguese what Gibraltar, St. Helena, and Malta now are to the English. Therefore they garrisoned the city, though naturally defended by its rugged cliffs, and built there four impregnable fortresses. Its churches and monasteries no longer exhibit their former architectural splendour, though, as late as the beginning of the nineteenth century, the lintels and jambs of the windows in many houses were of massive silver, and the church vessels of solid gold (chalices, pyres, monstrances ) were thickly studded with pearls, diamonds, and other precious stones. Funchal has long been a favourite resort of invalids, especially those suffering from diseases of the lungs. Its white villas and editices, embowered in rich tropical vegetation, charm the traveller as he approaches from the sea. The roads and streets are quite steep and the usual means of transportation is by ox-sled. The population of the city is (1909) about 20,000. According to the "Annuaire Pontifical" for 1906, the diocese contains about 150,000 Catholics with 50 parish churches, 80 public and two conventual chapels, all ministered to by 93 priests.
More Catholic Encyclopedia
Browse Encyclopedia by Alphabet
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.
Browse the Catholic Encyclopedia by Topic
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