[map of Colombia] Independent republic in the northwestern extremity of South America; area, 440,846 square miles. Shortly after discovery early in the 16th century the country was visited by Dominican, Franciscan, and Jesuit missionaries who erected churches and schools. The most distinguished of the Dominicans were Fray Juan de Quevedo, first bishop in Colombia (1514), Fray Domingo de Las Casas, and Saint Louis Bertrand. The Jesuits arrived under Bishop Loboguerrero and founded the College of Saint Bartholomew in Bogota (1605), the oldest college in America still directed by its founders. Greatest of the Jesuits here was Saint Peter Claver, apostle of the Negroes. The expulsion of the Jesuits in the 18th century was followed by the struggle for independence from Spain. Upon its establishment, separation of Church and State was proclaimed, Church property confiscated, and Catholics persecuted, until the victory of the Conservatives in the government in 1886. They promulgated a new constitution which recognized Catholicism as the state religion, though other religions are permitted whose practise is "not contrary to Christian morals nor to the law." The country is consecrated to the Sacred Heart, and is represented at the Holy See by an ambassador; a nuncio resides in Bogota.

Archdioceses, past and present, include Dioceses, past and present, include: Other ecclesiastical divisions: See also:
New Catholic Dictionary

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