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Saint Thomas of Guiana

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(GUAYANA; DE GUAYANA).

Diocese ; suffragan of Caracas, erected by Pius VI on 19 Dec., 1791, comprises the former state of Bermúdez, districts of Nueva Esparta and Guayana, and territories of Amazonas, Caura, Colón, Orinoco, and Yuruary, in the south and east of Venezuela. The first bishop was Mgr. Francisco de Ybarra, born at Guacata, Venezuela ; his successors were: (1) José Antonio Mohedano (1800), born in the Diocese of Toledo; (2) Mgr. José de Silva y Olave (15 March, 1815). After the troubles caused by the wars of independence Leo XII named (3) Mgr. Mariano Talavero, of Santa Fé, vicar Apostolic and titular Bishop of Tricala. Gregory XII restored the episcopate, appointing (4) Mgr. Antonio Fortique (12 July, 1841); (5) José Emanuel Arroyo (1856); and (6) Mgr. Antonio Maria Duran (25 Sept., 1891), the present bishop. The diocese contains over 400,000 Catholics and a few alien Jews and Protestants ; 60 parishes (20 filial); 36 priests ; 50 churches and chapels. The Carib Indians occupying Eastern Venezuela were civilized and Christianized by the early Spanish Franciscan missionaries. The episcopal city, Ciudad Bolívar (population 12,000) was established in 1764 by two Jesuits under the governorship of Joaquín de Mendoza, on the right bank of the Orinoco, and called San Tomás de la Nueva Guayana; but owing to a narrowing of the river was commonly known as Angostura. It played an important part in the national history, and Simón Bolivar was elected president there by the Congress of February, 1819; in his honor the city has been renamed Ciudad Bolivar.

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