Roman Catholic Diocese of Funchal

The Diocese of Funchal (Latin: Dioecesis Funchalensis) was created originally on 12 June 1514, by bull Pro excellenti præeminentia of Pope Leo X, following the elevation of Funchal from a village to the status of city, by King Manuel I of Portugal (Royal Decree of 21 August 1508). The new diocese was a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Lisbon.

Diocese of Funchal

Dioecesis Funchalensis

Diocese do Funchal
Catedral, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, 2019-05-29, DD 34.jpg
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption
Country Portugal
Territory Madeira
Ecclesiastical provinceLisbon
MetropolitanPatriarchate of Lisbon
HeadquartersLargo Conde Ribeiro Real 49, Funchal
Coordinates32°38′54″N 16°54′30″W / 32.6483°N 16.9083°W / 32.6483; -16.9083Coordinates: 32°38′54″N 16°54′30″W / 32.6483°N 16.9083°W / 32.6483; -16.9083
Area800 km2 (310 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics (including non-members)
(as of 2006)
270,000[1] (96%)
DenominationRoman Catholic
RiteRoman Rite
Established12 January 1514
(As Diocese of Funchal)
31 January 1533
(As Archdiocese of Funchal)
3 July 1551
(As Diocese of Funchal)
CathedralOur Lady of the Assumption
Patron saintJames the Less
Secular priests73
Current leadership
Bishop of FunchalNuno I
Metropolitan ArchbishopManuel III
Vicar GeneralJosé Fiel de Sousa
Episcopal VicarsCarlos Duarte Lino Nunes
Judicial VicarMarcos Fernandes Gonçalves
Bishops emeritusTeodoro I and António III
Dioceses de Portugal.PNG

Before the issuance of the papal bull, between 1433 and 1514 the civil and religious administrations were in charge of the Grand-Master of the Order of Christ. In fact all Portuguese Atlantic territories were under the jurisdiction of Order of Christ, until the situation changed in 1514 with the creation of the Diocese.

Once the diocese was created, the bishop of Funchal had jurisdiction over the entire area occupied by the Portuguese in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Thus, the Diocese comprised not only the Islands of Madeira, but all the territories discovered or to be discovered by the Portuguese. Thus, its jurisdiction extended throughout the western and eastern African territory, Brazil and Asia. Given its jurisdiction extent, the diocese's first bishop, D. Diogo Pinheiro used the title of Primate.[2]

Nineteen years later, on 31 January 1533, the diocese was elevated to archiepiscopal rank. For twenty-two years it was, geographically, the largest metropolitan ecclesiastical province in the world,[3] having as suffragan dioceses: Azores, Brazil, Africa[4] and Goa. The first (and only) Archbishop was D. Martinho of Portugal, also held the title of Primate.[2]

Following the Portuguese Empire's economic and social progress new dioceses were created in 1534, whose areas were detached from the Diocese of Funchal: Goa, Angra, Santiago and São Tome, São Salvador da Bahia. Later, on January 31, 1533, the Diocese of Funchal was elevated to the category of metropolitan and primate. In 1551 Pope Julius III revoked the situation by passing Funchal to the simple suffrage bishopric of the Archdiocese of Lisbon, as it remains today.[2][3]

The first bishop to visit the diocese was D. Ambrósio Brandão, in 1538, on behalf of the diocesan bishop D. Martinho of Portugal. After the death of D. Martinho de Portugal, the only archbishop of Funchal, the cathedral remained vacant until 1551. One year later, in 1552, Fr. Gaspar do Casal, who did not reside on the island, was appointed, and the most salient fact of his action was his participation in the Council of Trent. His successors, D. Jorge de Lemos, D. Jerónimo Barreto and D. Luís Figueiredo de Lemos, applied the Council and were the true workers of this reform.

The first bishop of Funchal to actually reside, full-time, after his appointment was D. Jorge de Lemos, in 1558.[2]

Throughout its more than five centuries of history the diocese has only be headed by two Madeirans so far: D. Aires de Ornelas e Vasconcelos, who would then become Archbishop of Goa, and D. Teodoro de Faria.[3]

Until the 20th century, the bishops of Funchal used the title of Bishop of Madeira, of Porto Santo, of Desertas and of Arguim. The seat of the Diocese of Funchal is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption.

On 8 March 2007, Pope Benedict XVI appointed António Carrilho (António III) as Bishop of Funchal, until then Auxiliary Bishop of Porto. Together with Cardinal Fernando Filoni, António III, presided over the celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the foundation of the diocese on 17 May 2014.[5]

The current bishop of Funchal is Nuno I, who took office on February 17, 2019.

Administrative divisionsEdit

The diocese is currently organized into seven Archpriestships, which themselves are subdivided into a total of 96 parishes.[6]

Archpriestships Parishes Patron
Funchal Álamos Saint John the Baptist
Bom Sucesso Our Lady of the Good Event
Coração de Jesus Sacred Heart of Jesus
Curral das Freiras Our Lady of Deliverance
Espírito Santo Holy Ghost
Fátima Our Lady of Fátima
Graça Our Lady of Grace
Imaculado Coração de Maria Immaculate Heart of Mary
Livramento Our Lady of Deliverance
Nazaré Our Lady of Nazareth
Nossa Senhora do Monte Our Lady of Monte
Piedade Our Lady of Sorrows
Romeiros Our Lady of Queen of the World
Sagrade Family Holy Family
Santa Luzia Saint Lucy
Santa Maria Maior Saint James the Less
Santo Amaro Saint Amaro
Santo António Saint Anthony of Lisbon and Padua
São Gonçalo Saint Gundisalvus of Amarante
São José Saint Joseph
São Martinho Saint Martin of Tours
São Pedro Saint Peter
São Roque Saint Roch
Our Lady of Assumption
Visitação Our Lady of Visitation
Vitória e Santa Rita Our Lady of Victory and Saint Rita
Igreja do Colégio Saint Jonh the Evangelist
Porto Santo Piedade Our Lady of Sorrows
Espiríto Santo Holy Ghost
Câmara de Lobos Câmara de Lobos Saint Sebastian
Carmo Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Encarnação Our Lady of Incarnation
Estreito de Câmara de Lobos Our Lady of Grace
Garachico Our Lady of the Good Event
Quinta Grande Our Lady of Remedies
Santa Cecília Saint Cecilia
São Tiago Saint James the Less
Santana Arco de São Jorge Saint Joseph
Faial Our Lady of the Nativity
Ilha Our Lady of the Rosary
Porto da Cruz Our Lady of Guadalupe
Santana Saint Anne
São Jorge Saint George
São Roque do Faial Saint Roch
Santa Cruz and Machico Achada Our Lady of Grace
Água de Pena Saint Beatrix
Assomada Our Lady of Sorrows
Bom Caminho Our Lady of the Good Path
Camacha Saint Lawrence
Caniçal Saint Sebastian
Caniço Holy Ghost and Saint Anthony the Great
Eiras Our Lady of Peace
Gaula Our Lady of Light
João Ferino Our Lady of Health
Lombada Our Lady of Fátima
Machico Immaculate Conception
Piquinho Saint Joseph
Preces Our Lady of Prayers
Ribeira Seca Our Lady of Amparo
Rochão Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Santa Cruz Saint Salvador
Santo da Serra Saint Anthony of Lisbon and Padua
Ribeira Brava Campanário Saint Blaise
Canhas Our Lady of Piety
Carvalhal Our Lady of Fátima
Conceição Immaculate Conception
Cristo Rei Christ the King
Madalena do Mar Mary Magdalene
Ponta do Sol Our Lady of Light
Ribeira Brava Saint Benedict
São João Saint Jonh the Baptist
São Paulo Saint Paul
Serra de Água Our Lady of Help
Tabua Holy Trinity
Calheta Amparo Our Lady of Amparo
Arco da Calheta Saint Blaise
Atouguia Saint Jonh the Baptist
Calheta Holy Ghost
Estreito da Calheta Our Lady of Grace
Fajã da Ovelha Saint Jonh the Baptist
Jardim do Mar Our Lady of the Rosary
Loreto Our Lady of Loreto
Paul do Mar Saint Amaro
Ponta do Pargo Saint Peter
Prazeres Our Lady of Snow
Raposeira Saint Anthony of Lisbon and Padua
São Francisco Xavier Saint Francis Xavier
São Vicente and Porto Moniz Achadas da Cruz Our Lady of Livramento
Boaventura Saint Quiteria
Fajã do Penedo Immaculate Heart of Mary
Feiteiras Our Lady of Peace
Lameiros Our Lady of Health
Ponta Delgada Our Lord Good Jesus
Porto Moniz Immaculate Conception
Ribeira da Janela Our Lady of Incarnation
Rosário Our Lady of the Rosary
Santa Mary Magdalene
São Vicente Saint Vincent
Seixal Saint Anthony the Great

Choice of Patron SaintEdit

St. James the Less was chosen as Patron Saint[7] of the Diocese time when Funchal faced various periods of plague in the 16th century.

In 1521, a severe plague spread throughout the city. Although local authorities, at the time, had sought to isolate the sick in order to control the plague outbreak, the efforts made seemed to be vain.

Gaspar Frutuoso, in his book Saudades da Terra accounts that "the city's Chapter and Senate resolved to choose by random ballot a patron saint among the Apostles... After having prayed before God, a boy named John picked a note, where the name of James Minor was written, and they soon rejoiced all over the city."[2][8]

Two years later, the civil authorities and the Dean of the Chapter met again in Funchal's Cathedral and confirmed the choice made of St. James Minor as their patron, with the commitment to celebrate him every year in his chapel with mass and procession in the Cathedral first day of May.


The diocese directly runs one higher education institution, one theological school and several other schools on the Autonomous Region of Madeira.[9]

Municipality of FunchalEdit

Higher EducationEdit

  • Superior School for Nursing José de Cluny

Religious EducationEdit

  • Theological School of Funchal

Schools and High SchoolsEdit

  • Arendrup School
  • Complementary School of Til (APEL)
  • Maria Eugénia de Canavial School
  • Missionary School of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
  • Presentation of Mary School
  • Prince Henry, The Navigator School
  • Princess Maria-Amélia School
  • Saint John of the Brook School
  • Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face School
  • Salesian School

Other MunicipalitiesEdit

Schools and High Schools


Sacred Art Museum of FunchalEdit

The Sacred Art Museum of Funchal, run by the diocese is housed in the former Episcopal Palace, founded by D. Luís Figueiredo de Lemos in 1594. The building was designed by Jerónimo Jorge, Master of Royal Works, who worked in the conception and design of defenses of the city of Funchal. From the primitive building, a section still survives, on the current square of the Municipality and Rua do Bispo. Mannerist sobriety is clearly visible in the northern arch or in the Chapel of Saint Louis of Toulosa, which has an inscription on the façade with the name of its founder, D. Luís de Figueiredo Lemos and dated 1600. D. António Teles da Silva, Bishop of Funchal, carried out new improvement works, between 1675-1682.[10][11]

With the visit of the Ajuda Palace's Curator Manuel Cayola Zagallo, the diocese became more and more aware of the importance of the Flemish Art collection it owned and that was spread throughout the churches and chapels of its territory. With the unequivocal support from the diocese and the public entities of the time, the identified works were sent to be restore in Lisbon.

After important conservation and restoration work by Fernando Mardel, the paintings were exhibited in Lisbon at the National Museum of Ancient Art in 1949. They would later integrate the Funchal Museum of Sacred Art, inaugurated in 1955. To this set were added other works, especially of Goldsmithing, Ecclesiastic Garments and Sculpture, mostly from Portuguese workshops, which were, in many cases out of worship and in poor condition, in many churches of the diocese, and which became part of the Museum's collections.[10] The Museum's collection include works attributed to painter such as Gerard David, Dieric Bouts, Joos Van Cleve, Jan Provoost and Pieter de Coeck Van Aelst.[10][12]

Madeira Organ FestivalEdit

Together with the Regional Government of Madeira the diocese promotes, by allowing its churches to act as concert venues,[13] for the island's Organ Festival. This festival is usually organized in a set of twelve concerts, headlined by nationally and internationally renowned Master Organ players.[14]


The diocese of Funchal runs a radio station (PEF - Posto Emissor de Rádio Difusão do Funchal), that broadcasts the news from Rádio Renascença, and an online newspaper (Jornal da Madeira).[9]

List of Bishops of FunchalEdit

Bishops do FunchalEdit

1. D. Diego Pinheiro Lobo (1514–1526)

Archbishop of FunchalEdit

2. D. Martinho de Portugal (1533–1547)

Bishops of FunchalEdit

3. D. Frei Gaspar (I) do Casal (1551–1556)
4. D. Frei Jorge de Lemos (1556–1569)
5. D. Frei de Távora (1569–1573)
6. D. Jerónimo (I) Barreto (1573–1585), appointed Bishop of Faro {Algarve}
7. D. Luís (I) de Figueiredo e Lemos (1585–1608)
8. D. Frei Lourenço de Távora (1610–1617), appointed Bishop of Elvas
9. D. Jerónimo (II) Fernando (1619–1650)
10. D. Frei Gabriel de Almeida (1670–1674)
11. D. Frei António (I) Teles da Silva (1674–1682)
12. D. Estêvão Brioso de Figueiredo (1683–1689)
13. D. Frei José (I) de Santa Maria (1690–1696), appointed Bishop of Porto
14. D. José (I) de Sousa Castelo Branco (1698–1725)
15. D. Frei Manuel (I) Coutinho (1725–1741), appointed Bishop of Lamego
16. D. Frei João (I) do Nascimento (1741–1753)
17. D. Gaspar (II) Afonso da Costa Brandão (1756–1784)
18. D. José (III) da Costa Torres (1784–1796), appointed Bishop of Elvas
19. D. Luís (II) Rodrigues Vilares (1796–1811)
20. D. João (II) Joaquim Bernardino de Brito (1817–1819)
21. D. Francisco (I) José Rodrigues de Andrade (1821–1838)
22. D. José (IV) Xavier de Cerveira e Sousa (1844–1849), appointed Bishop of Beija
23. D. Manuel (II) Martins Manso (1849–1858), appointed Bishop of Guarda
24. D. Patrício Xavier de Moura (1859–1872)
25. D. Aires de Ornelas e Vasconcelos (1872–1874), appointed Archbishop of Goa, India
26. D. Manuel (III) Agostinho Barreto (1876–1911)
27. D. António (II) Manuel Pereira Ribeiro (1914–1957)
28. D. Frei David de Sousa, OFM (1957–1965), appointed Archbishop of Évora
29. D. João (III) António da Silva Saraiva (1965–1972), appointed Bishop of Coimbra
30. D. Francisco (II) Antunes Santana (1974–1982)
31. D. Teodoro de Faria (1982–2007)
32. D. António (III) José Cavaco Carrilho (2007–2019)
33. D. Nuno Brás da Silva Martins (2019–present)

Other affiliated bishopsEdit

Coadjutor bishopEdit

Auxiliary bishopEdit

Other priests of this diocese who became CardinalsEdit

Coat of ArmsEdit

On March 23, 2019, the Diocese announced through its Facebook page[15] and on a historical note on its website[16][17] its coat of arms. The arms were designed by Miguel Pinto-Correia[15][18][19] following the economist's open letter to the Bishop published in the regional newspaper,[20] suggesting that the Diocese should adopt a coat of arms on 600th anniversary of the discovery of Madeira.

Coat of arms of Diocese of Funchal
Bishop's Mitre
Tierced in Mantle, Gules, Azure and Or; in Dexter an open Book Or with the letters Alpha and Omega Gules inscribed on each side, in Sinister an 8 Pointed-Star Argent, in base a Cross of the Order of Christ proper over Waves of Argent and Azure.
A Croizer and Ceremonial Cross Or
Diocese do Funchal
The book represents the diocese's patron saint, St. James the Less. The red his martyrdom, the life made gift. The 8-pointed star represents Our Lady of the Monte and the blue colour symbolizes Our Lady, as Mother of God. The Cross of Christ represents the centrality of Christ and at the same time, it recalls the boat of Peter (Church) that navigates and goes in the dynamism of mission, of evangelization. The yellow is a tribute to the Autonomous Region of Madeira and the waves remind its emigrants spread all over the world. The waves also represent the archipelago.


  1. ^ a b | Statistics – Diocese of Funchal
  2. ^ a b c d e "Diocese :: Diocese do Funchal". (in Portuguese). Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "Madeira: Diocese do Funchal, que já foi a maior do mundo, tem mais de 500 anos". Agência ECCLESIA (in European Portuguese). 12 January 2019. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  4. ^ Original Catholic Encyclopedia – Vicariate Apostolic of Natal
  5. ^ di Membro del Pontificio Consiglio per i Laici
  6. ^ "Arciprestado do Funchal :: Diocese do Funchal". (in Portuguese). Retrieved 21 December 2020.
  7. ^ "Festas de São Tiago Menor". Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  8. ^ "Santa Maria Maior Mother Church". Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Anuário Diocesano 2019-2020" (PDF). Diocese do Funchal. 23 October 2019. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  10. ^ a b c "Madeira Cultura - Museus - Museu de Arte Sacra do Funchal". Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  11. ^ "Museu de Arte Sacra do Funchal". Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  12. ^ "Museu de Arte Sacra do Funchal". Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  13. ^ "Informações Úteis - 10º Festival de Orgão da Madeira". Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  14. ^ "Madeira Organ Festival". Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  15. ^ a b "O brasão da Diocese do Funchal. O livro... - Diocese do Funchal | Facebook". 23 March 2019. Archived from the original on 23 March 2019. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  16. ^ "Diocese :: Diocese do Funchal". 23 March 2019. Archived from the original on 23 March 2019. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  17. ^ "Diocese do Funchal". 23 March 2019. Archived from the original on 23 March 2019. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  18. ^ "Diocese :: Diocese do Funchal". 9 May 2019. Archived from the original on 9 May 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  19. ^ "Diocese :: Diocese do Funchal". (in Portuguese). Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  20. ^ "Carta Aberta a S.E.R. D. Nuno, Bispo do Funchal". JM Madeira (in European Portuguese). 21 February 2019. Retrieved 23 March 2019.

External linksEdit