Former colony of the British Empire, in the British West Indies, administered by a Privy and a legislative council.
Gained complete independence within the British Commonwealth in 1962.
Christianity was introduced into Jamaica by the Spaniards who built churches and monasteries wherever they settled.
After their expulsion in 1655, and particularly after the Toleration Act of 1688 which granted religious liberty to all except Catholics, the spread of Catholicity was retarded.
Freedom of worship was not extended until 1792.
An Irish Franciscan, Father Quigley, arrived in Jamaica in 1798, and labored as a missionary until his death in 1805.
He was followed by two more Franciscans, Father Rodriguez d' Arango, and Father Campos Benito.
In 1837, two Jesuits, Father Cotham, an Englishman, and Father Dupeyron, a Frenchman, came to the island.
Father Benito became first Vicar Apostolic of Jamaica in 1837 and at his death in 1855, was succeeded by Father Dupeyron, the first Jesuit to be Vicar Apostolic.
Since the 19th century the missions have been in charge of Jesuits.
Four Sisters of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis reached Jamaica in 1857 to teach the native children, and soon opened a poor school and an academy.
During a cyclone in 1880, the Catholic churches and schools were destroyed, but they have been restored through the generosity of Catholics in the United States and England.
The Right Reverend Charles Gordon, S.J., D.D., who was appointed Vicar Apostolic in 1888, erected a number of schools, improved Holy Trinity Church, and founded "Gordon Hall" for recreation, instructions and meetings.
The hall and the church were both ruined by an earthquake in 1907.
Dr. Gordon invited the Salesians to Jamaica, and gave them property for an agricultural college.
New Catholic Dictionary