Alessandro Geraldini


Catholic Encyclopedia

Archdiocese of Santo Domingo


Erected on 8 August, 1511, by Julius II who by the Bull "Pontifex Romanus" on that date established also the Sees of Concepción de la Vega and of San Juan of Porto Rico. Three prelates, who had been appointed to the sees comprising the ecclesiastical province created previously (1504) by the same sovereign pontiff, united their petition to that of the Crown in requesting the Holy See (see PORTO RICO) to suppress the same and to establish the three new dioceses as suffragans to the See of Seville. This alteration was effected before any one of the prelates in question had taken possession of his diocese or had received consecration. Father Francisco Garcia de Padilla, Franciscan, who had been in 1504 the prelate designed to occupy the See of Bayuna (Baynoa, Baiunensis), on the extinction of the same was chosen the first Bishop of Santo Domingo, having been so mentioned in the Bull of the erection of the diocese. He died before his consecration, after having named Rev. Carlos de Aragón his vicar-general and having authorized him to take possession of the diocese in the name of the bishop, who never reached America. The first bishop to occupy the See of Santo Domingo was Alessandro Geraldini, appointed in 1516 and died in 1524. He was a native of Italy, and perhaps the only representative of all America to assist at the Fifth Lateran Council.

Paul III on 12 Feb., 1545, elevated Santo Domingo to the rank of an archdiocese, the incumbent of the see at the time, Bishop Alonso de Fuenmayor, becoming the first archbishop. Santo Domingo as the first metropolitan see of America, according to the terms of the Bull of erection "Super Universas Orbis Ecclesias", had five suffragan sees, as follows: San Juan in Porto Rico, Santiago in Cuba, Coro in Venezuela, Santa Marta of Cartagena, and Trujillo in Honduras. The Diocese of Concepción de la Vega had been united, after the death of its first bishop, Pedro Suárez de Deza, to the See of Santo Domingo by Apostolic authority. Nothing in the text of the Bull of erection would warrant the use of the title of Primate of the Indies by the archbishop of this see, although it remains indisputable that it is the first metropolitan see of all America. Santo Domingo is equally entitled to be called the cradle of Christianity in America, being the centre of the religious and missionary zeal that radiated thence to the adjoining islands and mainland. The Bull of Alexander VI, dated 24 June, 1493, designated the Franciscan Father Buil (Boil) to accompany Columbus on his second voyage of discovery, with ample faculties as Apostolic delegate or vicar, and to bring to the New World a body of zealous missionaries. The unfortunate incident which deprived America of his services doubtless marred the growth of the Church in the beginning. But on 30 August, 1495, a band of Franciscans and other missioners arrived in Hispaniola to replace a discontented element that occasioned no small annoyance to the great discoverer, and to lay the solid foundation of the Faith among the native Indians.

The archdiocese contains 600,000 Catholics; 66 secular and 12 regular priests; 32 Sisters of Charity; 68 churches; 103 chapels; 1 seminary; 257 schools. The present archbishop, Mgr Adolfo Nouel, was born at Santo Domingo, 12 December, 1862; elected titular Archbishop of Methymna, 8 October, 1904; consecrated at Rome eight days later as coadjutor to Archbishop de Merino of Santo Domingo, whom he succeeded in August, 1906.