Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Archdiocese of Lima

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From volume 9 of the work.

103256Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) — Archdiocese of LimaJames C. Grey


The city of Lima, in the Department of the same name, is the capital of the Republic of Peru, South America. After the conquest of the Incas in the sixteenth century, Pizarro, convinced of the necessity of a capital near the coast, chose about 600 feet above the sea level, on the right bank of the River Rimac (of which name Lima is probably a corruption), and the first stone of the cathedral in the wide plaza was laid by Pizarro, on 18 January 1535. Cuzco had been the Inca capital, and in 1534 Fray Valverde had been named Bishop of Cuzco. Lima continued to grow in importance, and in 1543 was made the see of a diocese which became an archdiocese in 1545. Its first bishop and archbishop was the Dominican Loaysa. He died in 1575 and was succeeded by St. Torribio Mogrovejo, who died of fever contracted in the forests where he was visiting and baptizing the Indians, whose language (Quichua) he had mastered. In 1551 the University of San Marcos, the first in the new world, was founded at Lima, and to this day it remains autonomous, and outside all Government influence. It is an important seat of learning, having eight faculties, including theology. In 1567 the Jesuits arrived at Lima, began founding schools and colleges, and introduced the printing press. It is of interest that the first book printed in the New World was a catechism issued from the Jesuit press at Juli on Lake Titicaca in 1577.

Owing to its commodious harbour at Callao, nine miles distant, the town of Lima developed rapidly and was the centre of the Spanish trade monopoly, which lasted until the Treaty of Utrecht (1713). Its domestic affairs followed the changing fortunes of the viceroys of Peru throughout the Colonial period (1542-1816). San Martin broke the Spanish power in 1821, and on 28 February, 1823, Riva Agüero entered upon office as first President of Peru, and took over the government of Lima.

During the war with Chile, Lima was assaulted and fell, 14 January, 1881; its national library was turned into a barrack, and many valuable books and manuscripts were destroyed or sold as waste paper. Works of art were carried off or broken by the victorious Chileans, who occupied the town for two years and nine months. After the evacuation Lima suffered from the political rivalries of Cáceres and Iglesias, and there was civil discord until the presidency of Nicolas de Piérola (1895), who in 1899 yielded the office to Eduardo Romaña, a Stonyhurst scholar, who held it until 1903. Everything now (1910) promises peace, political discussions are kept within bounds, and party government is carried on without bitterness or undue friction.

There are three ways of ways of reaching Lima from Europe or North America:

  • by sailing to Colon, crossing the Isthmus of Panama, and taking a boat from Panama to Callao;
  • via the Straits of Magellan;
  • by going to the river port of Iquitos, 2500 miles up the Amazon from the Atlantic, whence by steamer and rail, the journey to Lima is about 1200 miles.

The trade with Lima and Callao is largely in the hands of British merchants. The main exports are sugar, cotton, olives, wool, and tobacco. The city is built in parallel and cross streets, with a central plaza of which the cathedral occupies one side, and the various government buildings extend along another. At various times it has been damaged by earthquakes, the most serious being that of 1746, when Callao was swept away by a tidal wave, and Lima was almost reduced to ruins. The public buildings are handsome, and include the House of Congress and the Exposition Park. Spanish architecture predominates, and a walk through the streets is like a chapter in stone from old Spain. Among the monuments are the statue of Columbus, the statue of Bolivar, the "Second of May" monument (commemorating the defeat of the Spaniards in 1866), and the Bolognesi monument. The population is variously computed at between 140,000 and 150,000. The press is ably represented by two daily papers, the "Comercio" and the "Prensa". Education is free and obligatory and the public exercise of religion other than the Catholic, while allowed by courtesy, is not recognized by law.

The cathedral, dedicated to St. John the Evangelist, was begun when Pizarro founded Lima; it took ninety years to build, and was consecrated in 1625. It suffered considerably from the earthquake of 1746, and in the restoration which followed the two great towers were added. It is a handsome structure with five naves and ten sides chapels, one of which contains the remains of Pizarro. Its artistic treasures are valuable, and its high altar is adorned with a painting by Murillo. Other churches of note in the town of San Francisco, Santo Domingo, La Merced, and San Augustin. San Pedro and San Pablo formerly belonged to the Jesuits; Santo Domingo was built by Pizarro, and contains relics of the True Cross. There are, moreover, twelve convents, including Santa Rosa, where the body of Saint Rose, Lima's patron saint, is preserved. In all there are sixty-six religious houses or establishments in the town.

The archdiocese includes the Department of Lima, having an area of 13,310 square miles and a population of 250,000. At the present time its suffragan sees are Arequipa, Cuzco, Puno, Huánuco, Ayacucho, Huaraz, Trujillo, and Chachapoyas. The last Spanish archbishop was Bartholomé de las Heras, who was expelled by San Martin, in 1821. He returned to Spain, where he died at the age of eighty, in 1823. The See of Lima remained vacant until June, 1834, when a native archbishop was installed. The present archbishop, Pedro Manuel Garcia Naranjo, was born at Lima, 29 April, 1838, and was appointed 19 December, 1907

J. C. Grey.