Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Prefecture Apostolic of Sumatra

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 14
Prefecture Apostolic of Sumatra

by Andrew Alphonsus MacErlean


Sumatra, erected by a Decree of 30 June, 1911, and entrusted to the Dutch Capuchins. Previously it formed part of the Vicariate Apostolic of Batavia (q. v.), which is under the care of the Jesuits of Holland. The new prefecture comprises Sumatra and the surrounding islands, including Bangka (area, 4888 sq. miles; population, 78,000) The Island of Sumatra, referred to as Jabadin by Ptolemy, and visited by Marco Polo in 1292, was discovered by the Portuguese navigator Siqueira in 1508, and occupied by the Dutch in 1599. It extends from 95º 16' to 106º 3' E. long., and from 5º 40' N. to 5º 59' S. lat., and has an area of about 181,000 square miles. The natives, of Malayan race, number about 5,500,000, exclusive of the little known inland tribes. They are indolent and cruel; their religion is a mixture of fetishism and Mahommedanism. At the beginning of 1911 the Jesuits had four chief mission centres in Sumatra, - at Medan, Padang, Koata Radja, and Tandjeong-Sakti, - and sixteen minor stations. The Sisters of Charity of Tilburg (Holland) were established at Padang. There were two mission schools, and 4600 Catholics of whom 3200 were Europeans.

Missiones Catholicœ (Rome, 1907), 263-6; Pius Almanak (Amsterdam, 1912); ZONDERVAN, Banka en zijne bewoners (Amsterdam, 1895); YZERMAN, Dwars door Sumatra (Haarlem, 1896).

A. A. MacErlean.