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Diocese of Port Victoria
(PORTUS VICTORIÆ SEYCHELLARUM.)
Port Victoria comprises the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean. With their dependencies, these eighty-nine islands, the principal of which are Mahé, Praslin, Silhouette, Curieuse, and La Digue, cover an area of 148½ sq. miles. The French occupied the islands about 1742, but they were captured by the British in 1794, and were formally ceded to Great Britain in 1848. Port Victoria, the capital of Mahé and situated on the north-eastern side of the island, is the seat of the colonial government, the present governor being Walter Edward Davidson, C.M.G. In December, 1909, the estimated population of the islands was 22,409. Both Catholic and Church of England primary schools are aided by the State. The principal exports are vanilla cocoanuts, cocoa-nut oil, tortoise-shell, soap, and guano. The double cocoa-nut known as Coco de Mer is grown in Mahé and Praslin, while Aldabra, a dependency about 680 miles from Mahé, is famous for enormous land tortoises. By a Papal Decree of 26 November, 1852, the Seychelles were separated from the Diocese of Port Louis and made a prefecture Apostolic, to which a Decree of 6 December, 1854, joined the Amirantes and Agalega Islands, likewise separated from Port Louis. The first prefect Apostolic was the Right Reverend Jeremias Paglietti, who as a missionary had laboured successfully in the region for many years. In 1863 the mission was confided to the Capuchins, and was made a vicariate Apostolic on 31 Aug., 1880. As the Diocese of Port Victoria (erected 14 July, 1892), it was a suffragan of Colombo, Ceylon, but by a Decree of 3 June, 1899, it became directly subject to the Holy See. The present bishop is the Right Reverend Bernard Thomas Clarke, O.M.Cap. (born at London, 12 November, 1856; made titular Bishop of Tingis, 19 March, 1902, and Vicar Apostolic of Arabia). On 10 June, 1910, he was transferred to Port Victoria, where he succeeded Bishop Marc Hudrisier (born at Faverges, France, 27 July, 1848; became Bishop of Port Victoria, 21 July, 1892; died Feb., 1910). Besides Capuchins there are in the diocese Marist Brothers and Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny. There are 18 ecclesiastical residences, 18 churches or chapels, 1 infirmary, 24 schools with 2170 pupils, 2 colleges with 215 students, 2 orphanages with 67 orphans.
Missiones Catholicœ (Rome, 1907); Statesman's Year Book (1911); BATTANDIER, Ann. pont (Paris, 1911).
Blanche M. Kelly.