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Vicariate Apostolic of Lower California

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Includes the territory of that name in Mexico (Sp. Baja or Vieja California ), a peninsula 770 miles long by 30 to 120 broad. It is traversed longitudinally by mountain chains; on the gulf side the descent is abrupt, but on the western side more gradual. Running water is very scarce amid these granitic and volcanic hills, hence irrigation is dependent on showers which, though short, are often violent and flood the country. The climate is hot and dry in the north, more temperate in the south. In some places cereals and vegetables abound, also excellent grapes and many kinds of fruit. There are gold and silver mines, also deposits of copper, lead, and coal, while the seacoast abounds with many varieties of fish. This vicariate was created 20 January, 1874, and confided to the Bishop of Sonora ; it is now directly subject to Propaganda, which since 8 November, 1895, has entrusted it to the Missionary College of Sts. Peter and Paul, founded by Pius IX at Rome. The boundaries of the vicariate are, on the north, the Diocese of Monterey and Los Angeles ; on the south and west, the Pacific Ocean; on the east, the Gulf of California. It had in 1900 a Spanish-speaking population of about 47,000, nearly all Catholics. There are six churches with resident, and ten without resident, priests, twenty chapels, and as many stations. The chief town, and residence of the vicar Apostolic , is La Paz , in the south-eastern extremity of the peninsula; other centres of population are Encenada de Todos Santos, San José del Cabo, and Santa Rosalía. A number of islands (several with good ports) belong to this vicariate. Civilly this territory is dependent upon the Federal Government at Mexico. (For earlier missions in the peninsula, see CALIFORNIA MISSIONS.)


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