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La Paz

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Diocese of La Paz, in Bolivia. The city is the capital of the department of the same name, is the most populous city of the Republic of Bolivia, and since 1899 its capital. It is about thirty miles south-east of Lake Titicaca, is connected by railway with the Peruvian harbour town of Puno, situated on the lake, and is 12,200 feet above sea-level. The city is regularly laid out, but built on very steep ground, and according to the last census (1900) has a population of 54,713, chiefly mestizos (called cholos) and Aymará Indians. The most prominent buildings are a new cathedral built in the eighties of white marble with Corinthian columns, situated on the steep plaza, and the monastic churches of Santo Domingo, San Francisco, and San Juan de Dios. The monasteries attached to these churches, although secularized immediately after the establishment of the republic, were later restored to their respective orders. The most important monasteries of men are San Francisco, La Merced, and La Recoleta; there are also the convents of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, and the Carmelite nuns (El Carmen), both new buildings which the city government of La Paz made an unsuccessful attempt, in 1909, to confiscate for school purposes, ostensibly because, unlike the other orders of women in the city engaged in teaching or nursing, these two devoted themselves to the contemplative life (see the protest of Bishop Armentia in the "Boletin Eclesiástico", No. 8, 1909). French Sisters of Charity conduct both the city hospitals and a medical school is attached to the Loaiza Hospital for women. The Academia Aymará was founded in 1900 to foster the study of history, and publishes the "Academia Aymará," (La Paz, 1901--). The Sociedad Geográfica de la Paz, founded in 1889 and reorganized in 1896, with four sections, for astronomy, physics, political science, and commerce respectively, publishes the "Boletin", as well as separate works. Finally, the Institution Lejion, formed in 1908 from the Federación Enciclopédica, Sociedad Enciclopédica Filantrópica, and the Union Filarmónica, for the promotion of the study of natural science, and also of philosophical and sociological studies, issues the "Revista".

La Paz is one of the oldest Spanish colonies on the table-land of Old Peru. In 1549 the city was founded by Captain Alonzo de Mendoza (according to others, about 1548, by Diaz de Medina) on the site of an earlier Indian settlement called Chuquiabo ("gold field", because gold was washed here). To commemorate the restoration of peace after the civil war following the insurrection of Gonzalo Pizarro, the city was called Nuestra Señora de la Paz. After the victory of the patriot army under General Sucre at Ayacucho (1824) it was named La Paz de Ayacucho, but the latter designation was used as seldom as the former, and the city, afterwards as before, was called simply "La Paz". One of the most remarkable events in its history was the siege endured during the Indian revolt under Tupac Amaru in 1780, heroically repulsed by the commandant of the town, Sebastiano Segurola. Later, during the South American struggles for independence, La Paz was one of the first cities to join the movement. On 16 July, 1809, citizens and soldiers rose, at first, it is true, only against the French party and in favour of Ferdinand VII, but with the ultimate object of freeing themselves from the mother country. This first uprising was suppressed by General Goyeneche, who was sent from Lima against the insurgents, and had all the chiefs executed. After the battle of Ayacucho La Paz was the head-quarters of General Sucre and since then, at intervals, has been the capital of the country.

The Diocese of La Paz was separated from that of Charcas by Paul V, 4 July, 1605 (see DIOCESE OF LA PAZ). In the records of the Audiencia de Charcas, preserved in the "Archivo General de Indias" at Simancas, Diego de Zambrana y Guzmán appears to have been the first bishop, though he apparently did not take possession of his see. The first bishop vouched for by history was Domingo Balderrama, O.P., who assumed office in 1610 (d. 1615). He was succeeded in 1616 by Pedro de Valencia, who died in 1631, blind and an octogenarian. The next bishop, highly trained in law and literature, was Feliciano de la Vega, from 1628 Bishop of Popayán, who remained for only a year (1639) at the head of the diocese. He published the first synodal constitutions and died in 1640, Archbishop of Mexico. Among the subsequent bishops the following are prominent: Antonio de Castro y Castillo, O.F.M. (1648-53), whose detailed report on his diocese is preserved in the Archivo General de Indias at Simancas (printed in the "Boletin Eclesiástico", 1908-9, No. 5 sqq.); Juan de Queipo; Llano y Valdés (1681-95), who finished the first cathedral (1685) and was subsequently transferred to Charcas. The eleventh bishop, Agustin Rodriguez Delgado, was made Bishop of Panama in 1725 and became bishop of La Paz in 1731, in which capacity, in 1738, he edited the constitutions of the Third Diocesan Synod of La Paz. In 1748 he was appointed Archbishop of Charcas and in 1746 Archbishop of Lima, and died in the same year on his way to Lima. Gregorio Francisco de Campos (1764-87) completed the Franciscan monastery and dedicated it on 23 April, 1784. The twenty-sixth bishop, Juan de Dios Bosque (1874-90), published 29 November, 1883, the synodal constitutions still in force. The actual bishop (the twenty-eighth) Mgr. Nicolàs Armentia, O.F.M., has rendered distinguished services in the geographical exploration of Bolivia. He was born 5 December, 1845, at Bernedo in the Spanish province of Alava, received his early education in Biscaglia and in 1860 entered the French Franciscan province of St-Louis. In 1865 he was sent to the Franciscan college at La Paz, where he was ordained in 1869, after which he laboured from 1871 till 1880 as a missionary among the Indians in Tumupasa and Covendo. In June, 1881, he went to the Araunas and Pacaguaras on business for the Government. With a knapsack on his back containing clothes, provisions, and a sextant, a breviary in one hand and a compass in the other, he traversed the broad territory between the Beni and Madre de Dios Rivers. He followed the Beni for its entire length and examined the surrounding forests, remaining until 1883. After his return to La Paz he published, in 1884, the result of his explorations under the title "Diario de sus viajes á las tribus comprendidas entre el Beni y Madre de Dios y en el arroyo de Ivón en los dos años de 1882 y 1883". In May, 1884, Armentia navigated the Madre de Dios, pushing as far as 10° S. lat., exploring the Ortón River (Tahuamanu), among others, and returning to La Paz in August, 1886. Here, in 1887, he published his second work: "Navegación del Madre de Dios" (in "Biblioteca Boliviana de geografia é historia", I), translated into Italian by Marcellino da Civezza in his "Storia universale delle missioni Francescane" (VII, Florence, 1894, part IV, 503-663). In this Armentia describes, besides the fauna and flora of the countries he traversed, the customs and tongues of the tribes he visited, especially the Araunas, and laid before the Government a plan showing how the work of civilization begun by him among these savages could be most effectively carried on. On 22 October, 1901, Armentia was appointed Bishop of La Paz, and 24 February, 1902, was consecrated at Sucre. He published the "Regla Consueta" of his order in 184 articles (8 Dec., 1903), and wrote a valuable history of the old Franciscan missions in Bolivia under the title "Relación histórica de las misiones Franciscanas de Apolobamba, por otro nombre Frontera de Caupolicán" (La Paz, 1903).

The diocese includes the entire Department of La Paz and the Province of Magdalena in the Department of Beni. It numbers 700,000 inhabitants in 72 parishes, served by about one hundred secular priests. The religious congregations represented in the diocese are the Franciscans, with the missionary college of San José, opened at La Paz in 1837; the Franciscan Recollects with various mission schools; the Jesuits with a flourishing college (150 day scholars and 50 interns); the Mercedarians with free schools; the Lazarists with a college; Dom Bosco's Salesians with an institute opened in 1887 (a business and trade school). The Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, the Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart (Picpus Sisters), the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, and the Daughters of St. Anne devote themselves to teaching and works of charity, while the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and the Carmelite nuns follow the contemplative life. The cathedral chapter has ten canons.


MIDDENDORF, Peru, III (Berlin, 1859), 329-43; SCHÜTZ-HOLZHAUSEN, Der Amazonas, 2nd ed. by KLASSERT (Freiburg im Br., 1895), 362 sq.; SPILLMANN In der Neuen Welt, I (2nd ed., Freiburg im Br., 1904), 132; Boletin Eclesiástico de la diócesis de Nuestra Señora de la Paz, monthly (La Paz, 1908--), with a catalogue of bishops in nos. 1-4. Concerning the Franciscan missions of the diocese, cf. the above-quoted work of Bishop Armentia and the bibliography of LA PLATA, DIOCESE OF; BOLIVIA; Acta Ordinis Minorum, XXIV (Rome, 1905), 359 sqq.; MARIANO FERNANDEZ, Conspectus omnium missi onum Ordinis Fratrum Minorum, (Quaracchi, 1905), 175 sqq.; HOLZAPFEL, Handbuch der Geschichte des Franciskanerordens (Freiburg im Br., 1909), 515. Concerning the Salesian Institute see Salesianische Nachrichten, III (Turin, 1897), 160 sqq., 183 sqq. On Bishop Armentia's explorations: MARCELLO DA CIVEZZA, op. cit., VII, pt. IV, introduction, p. xxx sqq.; SCHÜTZ-HOLZHAUSEN, op. cit., 343 sqq.; POLAKOWSKI in Verhandl. d. Gesellschaft für Erdkunde (Berlin, 1888), 475.

About this page

APA citation. Reinhold, G. (1910). La Paz. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Reinhold, Gregor. "La Paz." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Kenneth M. Caldwell. Dedicated to Nuestra Señora de La Paz.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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