Mexico Church History

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Research procedures and genealogical sources are different for each religion. It is helpful to understand the historical events that led to the creation of records, such as parish registers, in which your family was listed.

Roman Catholic[edit | edit source]

In 1527 the Roman Catholic Church was established in Mexico when the dioceses of Tlaxcala and Mexico were created. The Archdiocese of México was created first as a diocese in 1530 and upgraded to an archdiocese in 1546. During the viceroyalty period in Mexico (1527 to 1810), there were also nine other dioceses in the country.

Chronological History of the Catholic Church in Mexico[edit | edit source]

Year Ecclesiastical and Political Events - Affecting the Church
1518 First Catholic Mass on Mexican soil on the expedition of Juan de Grijalva.
Diocese of Carolense created.
1522 First Inquisition tried in Mexico.
1524 First 12 Franciscans arrive in Mexico.
1526 First Dominicans arrive in Mexico. Diocese of Mexico created.
1533 First Augustines arrive.
1535 Diocese of Oaxaca created.
1536 Diocese of Michoacan created.
1539 Diocese of Chiapas, also known as San Cristobal de las Casas, created.
1546 Ecclesiastical Province of Mexico (archdiocese) created.
1548 Diocese of Guadalajara created.
1561 Diocese of Yucatan created.
1572 First Jesuits arrive in Mexico.
1592 Missions of Northern Mexico begin.
1620 Diocese of Guadiana, or Durango, created.
1642 Problems arise between Bishop Palafox and the Jesuits.
1767 Jesuits expelled from Mexico.
1777 Diocese of Linares, later named Monterrey, created.
1779 Diocese of Sonora created.
1792 Royal and Pontifical University of Guadalajara established.
1814 Jesuits restituted.
1821 Consummation of Independence.
1824 Constitution adopted.
1845 Diocese of Campeche created.
1854 Diocese of San Luis Potosí created.
1855 Apostolic Vicarate of Baja California created.
1857 Constitution of 1857 and Reform Laws adopted.
1856–1861 Church and its seminaries confiscated by government.
1861 Vicariate of Tamaulipas created.
1862 Dioceses of Queretaro and Chilapa created.
1863 Archdioceses of Guadalajara and Michoacan (now known as Morelia) created.
1863 Dioceses of Veracruz, also known as Jalapa, Zamora, Leon, Zacatecas, Queretaro, and Tulancingo, created.
1867–1868 More seminaries confiscated or closed.
1870 Diocese of Tampico and Tamaulipas (known as Ciudad Victoria) created.
1874 Diocese of Lower California (now known as La Paz) created.
1880 Diocese of Tabasco created.
1881 Diocese of Colima created.
1881, 1887 Seminary of Tampico closed.
1883 Diocese of Sinaloa (name changed to Culiacan in 1959) created.
1887 Puebla seminary buildings confiscated.
1891 Archdioceses of Oaxaca, Durango, and Linares (now known as Monterrey) created.
1891 Dioceses of Cuernavaca, Chihuahua, Saltillo, San Andres Tuxtla (Tehuantepec), and Tepic created.
1898 Archdiocese of Monterrey (formerly known as Linares) created.
1899 Diocese of Aguascaliente created.
1903 Diocese of Huajuapan de Leon created.
1903 Archdiocese of Puebla created.
1906 Archdiocese of Yucatan created.
1910 Mexican Revolution.
1913 Diocese of Tacambaro created.
1913–1917 More church buildings confiscated.
1922 Huejutla and Papantla created.
1925–1928 More church buildings confiscated and closed.
1929 Peaceful religious agreements.
1932–1935 More church buildings confiscated.
1937 Culiacan seminary confiscated and Zacatecas seminary supressed.
1950 Diocese of Toluca created.
1951 Archdiocese of Jalapa created.
1953 Archdiocese of Chihuahua created.
1957 Dioceses of Ciudad Juarez, Tapachula, and Torreón created.
1958 Dioceses of Acapulco, La Paz, Matamoros, and Mazatlan created.
1959 Archdiocese of Hermosillo, and dioceses of Ciudad Obregón and Tlaxcala created. Diocese of San Andres Tuxtla was divided, creating the diocese of Tehuantepec. Diocese of Sinaloa becomes known as Culiacan.
1960 Dioceses of Ciudad Valles and Texcoco created.
1961 Dioceses of Autlan and Tula created.
1962 Dioceses of Apatzingan, Linares, Tehuacan, Tuxpan, and Veracruz created.
1963 Diocese of Tijuana created.
1964 Dioseses of Ciudad Altamirano, Ciudad Victoria, Tlalnepantla, and Tuxtla Gutierrez created.
1965 Diocese of Mexicali created.
1972 Dioceses of Ciudad Guzman and San Juan de los Lagos created.
1973 Diocese of Celaya created.
1979 Dioceses of Cuautitlan, Netzahualcoyotl, and Tuxtepec created.
1981 Archdiocese of Oaxaca created.
1983 Archdiocese of Acapulco created.
1984 Dioceses of Atlacomulco and Coatzacoalcos created.
Diocese of San Andres Tuxtla divided into two jurisdictions: San Andres Tuxtla and the new diocese Coatzacoalcos, becomes a suffragan diocese of Jalapa.
1985 Diocese of Ciudad Lazaro Cardenas created.
1988 Diocese of La Paz created. Archdiocese of San Luis Potosí created.
1989 Archdiocese of Tlalnepantla created.
1990 Diocese of Nuevo Laredo created.
1992 Dioceses of Tlapa and Parral created.

Laws Affecting Church History in Mexico[edit | edit source]

During the viceroyalty period and until the constitution of 1824 the king, under the Regio Patronato, obtained concessions to:

  • Send missionaries to evangelize the Indians.
  • Construct churches, monasteries, and hospitals.
  • Present three names of persons to the Holy Office of Rome to name the church officials of Mexico.
  • Collect tithes.
  • With time the king also gained the right to abrogate the decrees of the Ecclesiastical Courts and to modify, by civil power, and transmit or not transmit the papal and church documents to his realms.

The 1824 constitution allowed freedom of choice and liberty of thought. However it was not until the Reform Laws that the government began to enforce these rights.

The Reform Laws contained sections dealing with the establishment of civil registration, the nationalization of church property, separation of church and state, suppression of religious orders, prohibition to establish convents, brotherhoods, and so on. Pensions were provided for religious clergy who accepted the laws. Among other things, the laws established:

  • Marriage as a civil contract.
  • Tolerance of belief.
  • Secularization of cemeteries.
  • Denial of church authority to charge for baptisms, marriages, burials, and other sacraments.

More Information on Catholic Church History in Mexico[edit | edit source]

For more information on Catholic Church history in Mexico, consult the following books: