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Diocese of Sonora
Diocese in the Republic of Mexico; suffragan of the Archdiocese of Durango. Its area is that of the state of the same name, 76,619 sq. miles, and its population (1910) 262,545. The bishop and the governor of the state reside at Hermosillo, a city situated 681 ft. above sea level, containing (1910) about 14,518 inhabitants. The Gospel was first preached in the territory of the Diocese of Sonora by the celebrated Father Niza, who accompanied the daring expeditions of the first explorers and conquerors of Mexico. The Spaniards settled at different places in this section; they evangelized the numerous tribes who lived in that region in the beginning of the seventeenth century, after having established the new See of Durango, to which all these lands were given. The Jesuits, who were assigned the task of converting to Christianity the people of these lands, founded the famous missions of Rio Yaqui, Rio Mayo, and Upper and Lower Pimeria. Notable among these priests was the celebrated Father Kino (q. v.). When the Jesuits were expelled from all the Spanish colonies (1767) they had the following residences: Mission of the Upper and Lower Pimeria (Guazaves, Aconche, Mátape, Oposura, Movas, S. Ignacio, Arizpe, Aribechi, Batuco, Onavas, Cucurupe, Cumuripa, Saguaripa, Sta Maria Soanca, Tubutama, Odope, Saric, Tecoripa, Ures, Caborca, Babispe, Baca de Guachi, Cuquiarachi, Onapa, Banamichi); S. Javier del Bac, Santa Maria Basoraca, and Guebabi, which were then in the territory now belonging to the United States; Mission del Rio Yaqui (Huirivis, Belem, Rahum, Torim, Bacum); Mission del Rio Mayo (Santa Cruz, Caamoa, Nabojoa, Conicari, Batacosa).
On 7 May, 1779, Pius VI established the Diocese of Sonora, to which belonged at that time the present states of Sinaloa and Sonora and the two Californias (Upper and Lower). It was suffragan of the then immense Archdiocese of Mexico. This territory was divided in 1840 when the See of S. Francisco de California was founded. In 1863 it ceased to be a suffragan of Mexico and became suffragan of the new metropolitan see established at Guadalajara. In 1873 it was separated from Lower California, which became a vicariate Apostolic, and in 1883, when the See of Sinaloa was created, the See of Sonora was reduced to its present limits. In 1891 Leo XIII, by the Bull Illud in Primis, separated this See from the ecclesiastical Province of Guadalajara and made it a suffragan of the new Archdiocese of Durango. The bishop's residence was first situated in the city of Arizpe, but owing to the uprising of the Indians it was removed to Alamos and later to Culiacan, the present capital of the State of Sinaloa. When the new See of Sinaloa was created the Bishop of Sonora made his residence at Hermosillo.
This diocese has 1 seminary with 10 students, 17 parochial schools, 2 Catholic colleges with about 700 students. Protestants have founded 11 churches. Among the 221,000 inhabitants a great number of Indians from the Seris, Yaquis, Apaches, Papagos, and other tribes are to be found; these have unfortunately returned in large numbers to barbarism since the missionaries abandoned them. Few Apaches and Papagos Indians remain in the Sonora territory. The Seris Indians are more numerous and live in the large island of Tiburon in the Gulf of California and in a large part of the territory along the banks of the Rio Sonora. Those who live on the island are savage and opposed to civilization, while those on the continent have formed agricultural colonies and are quite subdued since the last uprising. As to the Yaqui Indians, the Federal Government of Mexico has had some serious trouble with them. It appears, however, that had they not been deprived of their lands a more peaceful people could hardly be found.
VERA, Catecismo geográfico histórico de la Iglesia Mexicana (Amecameca, 1881); DÀVILA, Continuación de la historia de la C. de J. en Nueva España (Puebla, 1889); CARREZ, Atlas geographicus Societatis Jesu (Paris, 1900); DOMENECH, Guia general descriptiva de la Republica Mexicana (Mexico, 1899).