The Catholic Church’s greatest evangelizing project began on January 6, 1494. On that date—the Feast of the Epiphany—a few Franciscan missionaries on the island of Hispaniola held the continent’s first Mass.
That modest ceremony set off a spectacular half-millennium of growth for the church in Latin America: by 2004, there were more than 450 million Catholics in the region (approximately 80 percent of the total population), and Catholicism...
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