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Santiago del Estero

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(SANCTI JACOBI DE ESTERO)

Diocese in the Argentine Republic, erected 25 March, 1907, suffragan of Buenos Aires. Its territory exactly corresponds with that of the State of Santiago, bounded by the States of Salta and Tucuman on the N. W., La Rioja on the W., Cordova on the S., Sante Fé on the E., and by the Territory of El Chaco on the N. E. It has an area of nearly 40,000 sq. miles and a population averaging about 5 to the sq. mile.

Santiago, the cathedral city as well as the capital of the state, is situated on the Rio Dulce, about forty miles north of the Salinas Grandes, or Great Salt Marshes, of Northern Argentina. Although the newest diocese in the republic, its capital was the seat of the first bishop in that part of South America The ecclesiastical organization of what afterwards became the Argentine Republic began in 1570 under St. Pius V , who erected what was at first known as the Diocese of Tucuman. This, the original diocese of all but the seaboard of that country, covered a vast and almost unexplored territory of the same name. The Spanish settlement of Santiago del Estero was then designated as the seat of the Bishop of Tucuman, and its church, built about 1570, was the cathedral. Not until nearly one hundred and thirty years later (1699), in the episcopate of Juan Manuel Mercadillo, O.P., was the see transferred to Cordova. The old diocese thenceforward took its name from its capital, being known as the Diocese of Cordova. Thus Cordova is still regarded as the most ancient diocese of Argentina, while the most ancient cathedral in the country is at Santiago del Estero. Early in the nineteenth century the Diocese of Salta was formed out of that part of the Cordova jurisdiction which included Tucuman and Santiago; from a portion of the Salta jurisdiction the (new) Diocese of Tucuman was formed in 1897, and from this new diocese, again, was formed, ten years later, the Diocese of Santiago del Estero.

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For three years after its erection the diocese was governed by Right Rev. Pablo Padilla, Bishop of Tucuman, as administrator Apostolic, until in 1907 Right Rev. Juan Martin Janiz, its first bishop, was appointed by Pius X. It is divided into twelve parishes. The parochial clergy are few for so large a territory—not more than one priest to each parish, besides a vicar forane and the bishop's personal staff. There are, however, three schools for boys, and an orphanage under the care of religious at the capital, besides several other approved Catholic educational institutions.

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