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A diocese is the local Catholic Church, a miniature of the Universal Church, and full expression of Roman Catholic Christianity in a given area. Though sometimes seen only in its administrative sense, the authentic Catholic understanding of a diocese is pastoral. It is the people who comprise the Catholic Church in a particular geographic area.

The Diocese of Charleston was established by Pope Pius VII on July 11, 1820. Its first shepherd was Bishop John England.  When Bishop England came to Charleston, the new diocese of 142,000 square miles was spread over three states, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. There were two churches, one in Charleston and one in Augusta, GA., only six priests were available to serve the handful of scattered Catholics.

Bishop England wrote that “sometime about the year 1786, a vessel bound to South America put into the port of Charleston. There was a priest on board; as well as can be recollected, he was an Italian. The few Catholics, who now began in the city to be acquainted with each other .... invited him to celebrate Mass, which he did in the house of an Irish Catholic for a congregation of about twelve persons.” This might be marked as the introduction of the Catholic religion to the present Diocese of Charleston.

Prior to the establishment of the Diocese of Charleston and the coming of Bishop England, the Catholic Church of the Carolinas and Georgia was part of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and was under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Baltimore. Today the Diocese of Charleston comprises the entire state of South Carolina with Charleston as the See city.

The Bishop of the Diocese of Charleston, Most Rev. Robert E. Guglielmone was ordained and installed as the 13th ordinary on March 25, 2009, in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

In 2020, the Diocese will celebrate its bicentennial.

Visit the website of the Diocese of Charleston.

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