[map of Guatemala] Independent republic of Central America. It was discovered in 1524 by Pedro de Alvarado, lieutenant of Cortes, and Christianity was introduced by Spanish missionaries. The See of Santiago de Guatemala was erected by Pope Paul III in 1534, with Francisco Marroquin as first bishop. After three centuries under Spanish rule Guatemala won its independence with the rest of Central America in 1821; and in 1839 was established as a republic. In 1872-1874 religious orders were expelled, and the Fundamental Law of the Republic (1879) forbade the establishment of conventual congregations or monastic associations; much Church property was confiscated, and there is no government aid in any ecclesiastical work. Catholicism is the prevailing religion, but there is equality and religious freedom for all denominations. See also: Archdioceses, past and present, include Dioceses, past and present, include: Vicariates Apostolic include:
New Catholic Dictionary

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