Santa Cruz de la Sierra
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(SANCTAE CRUCIS DE SIERRA).
Diocese in Bolivia, erected on 6 July, 1605, as suffragan of Lima, but since 2 July, 1609, it has been dependent on La Plata (Charcas). Its first bishop was Mgr. Antonio Calderón. The diocese comprises the departments of Santa Cruz (area 126,000 sq. miles) and Beni (district of Mojos), which lie immediately west of Matto Grosso, Brazil. The rural and wooded portions of these regions are inhabited by the Moxos Indians, among whom flourishing missions were established in the seventeenth century by the Jesuits under Father Cipriano Baraza.. The converted Indians numbered over 50,000 at the time of the suppression of the society, after which the missions declined rapidly; but though many of the Moxos are now pagan, the converted Indians are fervent Catholics (see MOXOS INDIANS). The town of Santa Cruz (population 18,000), formerly called also San Lorenzo de la Frontera, was founded in 1575 on the Rio Piray, on the eastern slope of the Andes. The diocese contains about 250,000 Catholics ; 103 priests ; 54 parishes ; and 74 churches and chapels. The present bishop, Mgr. Belisario Santistevan, was born in the Diocese of Santa Cruz de la Sierra on 2 January, 1843; and on 26 June, 1890, appointed titular Bishop of Dansara and coadjutor to Mgr. Baldivia, whom he succeeded on 1 June 1891.
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