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Our mission, today Care, of Amazon and Roraima  is located mainly in Amazonas State; it has been created by Imperial Decree on September 5th 1850 and elevated to Diocese by Leone XIII with the Document “Ad Universas Orbis Ecclesias” on April 12 1892 disjoining it by Diocese of Parà.

The most probable origin of the name Amazonas is “ama”, valley or basin, and “azu”, big: the big hydrographic valley  formed by the River Mare, that born in Perù with the Lauricocha Lake under the name of Rio Marañon; swelled by several tributaries it takes the name of Solimões then change it in Amazon River when its clayey waters mingle with those of the Negro River in Manaus, and then goes up to the Atlantic Ocean.

The Amazon River is the longest river in the world with its 6.571 Km, if considered with the Rio Solimões, and the most water flow, passing the Nile River in Egypt. Its confluence with the Negro River has a width of 12 Km and more than 200 Km when it flows into the Atlantic Ocean and its force makes its waters flow for more than 300 km into the Ocean!  Solimões probably means “river of poisons”, reminding  the poisoned arrows of the Solimões tribe.

Later on the discovery of the New World and the following colonization also Catholic Missionaries entered in Latin America and they had to be subject to the vicissitudes due to the colonial struggles. The first Friar to enter in Upper Solimões was the Dominican Father Gaspare de Carvajal that between 1541 and 1542, with Captain Francisco Orellana, adventurously discendent the enormous river named by Orellana “Rio delle Amazzoni” .

Other news date back to 1637 when some missionaries (a Franciscan, two Jesuits and four Mrcedarians) joined the expedition of Pedro Teixeira da Quitos to Parà and return. Even if they were just passing, this pioneers of the faith knew to sow the seeds of Christian life in Upper Solimões. In 1645 was created the “Mission of Amazon River”, entrusted to the Spanish Capuchin of Valencia.

It is not know how long this mission lasted but at the arrival of Jesuits, forty years later, indios appeared to be well catechized and gathered in places with the names of the Saints. In 1686 spanish Jesuit F. Samuel Fritz and F.  J. Baptista Sana were able to re-establish six missions: S Joaquim, at the Javarì estuary; S. Paulo, then “de Olivenca”; S. Pietro di Tonantins, S. Cristoforo di Amaturà; Nougueira on Tefè Lake and Caicara at the Japurà estuary. In the next years the Jesuits were expelled by the Portuguese with imprisonments and destructions; later on the Carmelites from Parà were brought there, they had to face with a disastrous situation regarding a religious point of view. In 1759 were created the parishes of S. Paulo de Olivença, of Tabatinga and Amaturà, managed  from time to time “by commissions” till 1852. Think that on 1848 Bishop of Parà, Dom José Alfonso de Moraes Torres, in a pastoral visit, found only one priest in all Solimões (means from Manaus to Tabatinga – 1.500 km), in Tefè. Anyway pastoral concern for this very vast area so lacking of priests seemed destined to grow; in fact in the second half of the nineteenth century the pastoral visit became more and more frequent (1848, 1864, 1894, 1898, 1908). In 1870 the Observant Friars Minor founded near Belem do Solimões the so-called “Missione del Caldeirão” with six Fathers; it remained active for nine years then the fatigue, difficulties and illnesses forced to retreat the Missionaries.

 From then till 1906 we can find a short and sporadic presence of some Missionary till when the Capuchin from Milan, belonging to the Custodia del Maranhão, called up in Manaus taken care about the religious situation of Upper Solimões and went regularly there for two year. After then they has been replaced by the Capuchin Missionary from Umbria due to a reorganization of their presence in brazil.

Prefecture of Upper Solimões

Mission entrusted by the Holy See to the Capuchins of Umbria in 1910 takes place along the Rio Solimões, the part of Amazon Rio between Manaus and the Brazil’s border with Colombia, named “Prefecture of Upper Solimões” since the time of “Conquistadores”. It takes the Nord-West end of Brazilian Amazon from the confluence between Rio Solimões e l’Auatì-Paranà till the border with Colombia and Perù, and it includes the Solimões  bacin with its tributaries : the Japurà, Içà and Jandiatuba; and the Javarì valley with its tributaries: Itacoaì, Ituì and Curuçà. The Mission became Apostolical Prefecture on May 23rd 1910; initially it covered an area of 140.000 Kmq. From 1921, after the disjoint of the Japurà Valley on behalf of the Tefè Prefecture, the Mission has been reduced to 110.000 Kmq. This area, large almost half of italy, is to 1.260 Km from Manaus up the Amazon River and it splay for almost 1300 Km along the rivers Solimões e Javarì. This area between the second and the sixth grade in the Southern Hemisphere, close to Equator and it consist only of rivers and tropical forest. Very low populated, at the arrival of our Missionaries in 1909 it consists around 23.000 inhabitants; 28.000 on 1940; 35.000 on 1950; 63.000 on 1974; 90.000 on 1990; 175.000 today. Almost all this people live along the rivers shores, that are still the only way of communication. From the ecclesiastical point of view, the Upper Solimões Mission, Apostolical prefecture since 1910, has became Prelature Nullius in 1950 and See in 1992 with eight parishes and a hundred of basic ecclesial communities.