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Philippines

The third-largest Catholic population in the world is found in the Philippines, where Catholic practice is fervent and wide-ranging. The Philippines comprise more than 2,000 inhabited islands, and large islands often have multiple provincial and local cultures. Historically speaking, Filipino Catholicism is shaped by local indigenous practices, and by the Spaniards who conquered it in the 16th century and ruled it until the early 20th century.

Filipinos stand out for their devotional fervor. Filipino Catholic practice is unusually material and physical, even among Catholic cultures, built especially on devotions to Mary, the suffering Christ, and the Santo Niño (Holy Child), and on powerful celebratory and penitential rituals practiced and experienced in a wide variety of Filipino vernacular forms. Feasts like the Black Nazarene, which draws millions to the streets of Manila in January, the Simbang Gabi novena that precedes Christmas, and the month-long Flores de Mayo offering to Mary illustrate distinctively Filipino forms of devotion.

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Demographics

  • 1.United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. World Urbanization Prospects, 2011.
  • 2.United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2013 revision. 
  • 3.United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, Homicide Statistics 2013. 
  • 4.Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index 2013.
  • 5.UNICEF, State of the World's Children, 2013.
  • 6.Statistical Yearbook of the Church, 2012. Vatican City: Librera Editrice Vaticana, 2014.