The Archdiocese of Jaro is one of the oldest dioceses in the country. It was created a diocese by virtue of a papal bull of Pope Pius IX on May 27, 1865, according to a document signed by Archbishop Gregorio Martinez, then Archbishop of Manila, under whole ecclesiastical province the new diocese belonged as suffragan.
Bishop Mariano Cuartero, a Dominican, took possession of the diocese on April 25, 1868. The new diocese then included the entire island of Panay (today’s Capiz, Aklan, Iloilo and Antique provinces), Negros Island, Romblon and Palawan in the Visayas: Jolo, Zamboanga, Cotabato and Davao on the island of Mindanao. This vast territory was later divided to form new ecclesiastical jurisdictions: Zamboanga in 1910, Bacolod in 1933, Capiz in 1951 and San Jose de Antique in 1962.
On June 29, 1951, a papal bull by His Holiness Pope Plus XII raised Jaro to an archdiocese, with the dioceses of Bacolod, Capiz and the then Prelature Nullius of Antique as suffragans. The Most Reverend Jose Ma. Cuenco was raised to the rank of Metropolitan Archbishop of Jaro.
The Archdiocese of Jaro today comprises the entire civil province of Iloilo and the sub-province of Guimaras, a small island off its south eastern coast. with San Jose de Antique, San Carlos of Negros Occidental and Kabankalan, also of Negros Occidental, as suffragans. Out of its population of 1,761,419,89 per cent are Catholics. Its titutar patron is St. Elizabeth of Hungary, whose feast is celebrated on November 17.
The province of Iloilo occupies the southeastern portion of Panay Island in the region known as Western Visayas or Region VI, one of the richest regions in the country. It is separated from Guimaras Island by the Iloilo Strait, and is bounded on the north by the province of Capiz, on the west by Antique, on the east by Guimaras Strait and on the south by Panay Gulf. Iloilo City has been the capital of the province since 1688, and included within it are the towns of Manduriao, Jaro, La Paz, Arevalo and Molo.
Iloilo shares with her sister provinces the history of a Malay settlement on the Island of Panay on the 13th century, when ten Bornean datus bought the lowlands from the Negritos with gold and ornaments. This particular area, that of Iloilo, was called Irong-Irong which the Spaniards later changed to Iloilo. The political partition with Capiz took place in 1716, and that with Antique in 1796.
Iloilo City, of which Jaro is part, became a chartered city in 1936, although foreign trade already existed from this seaport since 1850. The original stock of Negritosand Borneans is now hardly recognizable, with Ilonggos, Visayans and Tagalogspredominating. Its old houses and churches still show traces of Spanish influence.
Ecclesiastically, the Archdiocese of Jaro holds some noteworthy historical notes showing the vibrant faith of its deeply Christian population. Its St. Vincent Seminary has produced one cardinal (Jaime Cardinal Sin), two archbishops and six bishops. In number of religious sisters it ranks second only to Manila; in number of parishes and secular priests it ranks third after Manila and Cebu. The first Carmelite Monastery and the first Trappist Monastery in the country were founded within the Archdiocese of Jaro.
With its Christian roots deep in fidelity to the Catholic Church, the Archdiocese of Jaro today faces the challenges of Vatican II and the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines. It is strengthened by an enthusiastic response from the laity working in cooperation with the clergy in a renewal effort that reaches down to the parochial levels. Old historic churches stand side by side with new ones and are filled to overflowing by the young and old gathered before the Eucharistic table, singing in praise of the Lord in Ilonggo and in English.
Source: CBCP Online