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São Luiz de Maranhão

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Diocese ; suffragan of Belém de Pará, comprises the State of Maranhão in Northern Brazil. The Prefecture of São Luiz was annexed to the See of Olinda by Innocent XI, 15 July, 1614; on 30 Aug., 1677, it was created a bishopric dependent on Lisbon ; Frei Antonio de S. Maria, a Capuchin of S. Antonio, was appointed to the see, but before he took possession he was transferred to Miranda, and Gregorio dos Anjos, a secular canon of the Congregation of St. John the Evangelist, became its first bishop. It comprised then all Maranhão, Pará, and Amazonas. The see was vacant from 1813 till 1820; Leo XII made it suffragan to São Salvador (15 June, 1827). In Jan., 1905, the Diocese of Piahuy was separated from São Luiz, which became suffragan to Belem de Pará, 3 May, 1906. The Diocese of São Luiz has an area of 177,560 square miles, and contains about 500,000 inhabitants, practically all Catholics ; 57 parishes ; 36 secular clergy ; 12 Lazarists and Capuchins ; 2 congregations of nuns and about 100 churches and chapels. The present bishop, Francisco de Paula Silva, C.M., successor of Mgr Albano, was born at Douradinho on 31 Oct., 1866; joining the Lazarists he was professed in 1891; ordained on 24 Jan., 1896; appointed master of novices at Petropolis, and later rector of the Lazarist College, at Serra de Caracas, named Bishop of São Luiz on 18 April, 1907; consecrated on 14 July following by Cardinal Arcoverde of Rio de Janeiro.

The territory of Maranhão was discovered by Pinzón in 1500 and granted to João de Barros in 1534 as a Portuguese hereditary captaincy. The Island of Maranhão lies between the Bays of São Marcos and São José. It was seized in 1612 by the French under Daniel de La Touche, Seigneur de La Rividière, who founded São Luiz, near the Rio Itapicurú, the site being blessed by the Capuchins who accompanied him and who established the Convent of St. Francis. The island was seized by the Portuguese under Albuquerque in 1614. Very successful Indian missions were soon begun by the Jesuits, who were temporarily expelled as a result of a civil war in 1684 for their opposition to the enslavement of the Indians. São Luiz city has about 30,000 inhabitants, and contains several convents, charitable institutes, the episcopal palace, a fine Carmelite church, and an ecclesiastical seminary .

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