Pope Greets "Little Rome of the Andes"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 13, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is assuring his “spiritual participation” in events to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Peruvian Archdiocese of Ayacucho.

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In a Latin-language letter published by the Vatican on Saturday, the Pope asked his envoy, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, archbishop of Lima, to transmit to the faithful his special affection. The anniversary will be celebrated July 20.

The Holy Father’s letter notes how the diocese was originally founded by Pope Paul V on July 20, 1609, with the name of Huamanga, which was also then the name of the city of Ayacucho.

Benedict XVI goes on to mention how Pope Paul VI made it an archdiocese on June 30, 1966. Today, it has about a half million inhabitants, served by 50 priests, 150 religious and three permanent deacons.

The long history of the Church in the region has inspired its denomination as the Little Rome of the Andes.

It was a bishop of Ayacucho who founded the University of San Cristobal in 1677. And Franciscans, Dominicans and Jesuits have been the keys to the education of the region’s inhabitants for centuries. The churches constructed by these congregations, along with those built by the diocese, make up the 33 churches of which Ayacucho boasts, with a particular Ayacuchoan architectural style.

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