Catholic Church in Vanuatu

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Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Port Vila

The Catholic Church in Vanuatu is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome. Catholics constitute 13% of the population of Vanuatu.[1] The church is organized into one diocese based in the capital of Port Vila.[2] The diocese is a member of the Pacific Bishops Conference.[2]


The first ever mass in Oceania was performed on May 14, 1606, when Spanish explorer Pedro de Quiros landed on the island with four priests and eight brothers, some of which were Franciscans and St John of God, and celebrated Pentecost.[3] In 1875 mostly Catholic Tannese settlers wrote to the French government asking that the islands be claimed by France.[4] The islands first native named bishop, Michel Visi, was named at April 12, 1997 and served till his death in 2007.[2] An ambassador to the Holy See, Michel Rittie was chosen for the first time in 2003.[5] Vanuatu sent a delegation of young people for the first time to World Youth Day 2008 when it was held in Sydney, Australia.[6]


  1. ^ "Vanuatu: International Religious Freedom Report 2006". United States Department of State. September 15, 2006. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
  2. ^ a b c "Vanuatu Bishop Michel Visi Dies Aged 52". Pacific Magazine. May 20, 2007. Archived from the original on October 8, 2007. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
  3. ^ Lyndsay Freer (August 4, 2006). "Large gathering of Catholic bishops meeting in Fiji". Catholic Communications New Zealand. Archived from the original on 2008-10-14. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
  4. ^ "Colonial History of Vanuatu". Vanuatu Tourism. January 1, 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-02-07. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
  5. ^ "ADDRESS OF JOHN PAUL II TO H.E. MR. MICHEL RITTIE, AMBASSADOR OF VANUATU". The Vatican. May 15, 2003. Archived from the original on 2005-11-07. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
  6. ^ "Oceania Plans Bigger Turnout for Youth Day '08". Zenit News Agency. September 8, 2006. Archived from the original on May 10, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-09.