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DIOCESE OF LEÓN (LEONENSIS)

Suffragan of Michoacan in Mexico, erected in 1863. In the early days of the discovery of Mexico the whole country was divided into dioceses subject to the Archbishop of Seville in Spain as metropolitan. Among those was Michoacan, erected as a bishopric in 1536. On 31 January, 1545, at the request of Charles V, Paul III formed the Archdiocese of Mexico, and Michoacan became one of its suffragan sees, its bishop residing in what is now the town of Morelia. In the Secret Consistory of 16 March, 1863, Pius IX divided the Diocese of Michoacan into the Sees of Michoacan, Zamora, León, and Querétaro. The Diocese of León, which comprises the civil State of Guanajuato, about 8000 sq. miles in area, and having a population of 968,163, is in the heart of a rich agricultural country famous for its cotton and woollen weaving. The richest silver mines in Mexico are in the neighbourhood of Guanajuato. The town of Guanajuato, situated 6000 feet above the level of the sea, and 250 miles north-west of Mexico, is famous also for its churches and monasteries. It was founded by the Spaniards in 1554, and has a population of 53,000, though under Spanish rule the population exceeded 100,000. León, or León de los Aldamas, the chief town of the department of the same name, is the residence of the bishop, Mgr Emeterio Valverde Telles. The town is situated on the right bank of the Rio Torbio, at a height of 5000 feet above sea-level, and had a population of 63,263 in 1900. It was founded in 1576. Another important town in the same department is San Francisco del Rincon. As an episcopal see León dates from 1863, and its present bishop was elected on 7 August, 1909. The cathedral chapter consists of 12 canons and 6 chaplains. There is a diocesan seminary with 24 professors, and the spiritual wants of the diocese are looked after by 264 secular priests and 48 regulars (see MEXICO). Among former bishops may be mentioned Mgr Tomas Baron y Morales, appointed 1882; Mgr Zambrano, appointed 1886; and Mgr Ruiz, appointed 1900.


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