Pontiff Given 6th Edition of Atlas Hierarchicus

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 8, 2011 (Zenit.org).- A book of maps and information on the statistics of the Church was presented to Benedict XVI, now in its sixth edition, with a 100-year history.

The Atlas Hierarchicus was presented to the Pope by Archbishop Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, on Wednesday.

The work is published by the Pontifical Urbanian University, with a prologue from the Pope.

It contains detailed statistics of the Church on the five continents, as well as the dioceses and ecclesiastical circumscriptions that have been created in recent years.

The work is financed by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Its objective is not so much to provide data but above all to offer an overall vision -- current and geographic -- of the Church in the world.

The most recent previous edition had been produced in 1992. Vatican Radio reported that there were numerous requests for a new edition, given the many changes both in the number of Catholics as well as the birth of new ecclesial realities in the last 20 years.

The first Atlas was made by Karl Streit of the Divine Word Congregation in 1913.

This Dutch religious, who in 1906 did an atlas on Catholic missions in the world, gave Pope Pius X a copy of the first Atlas Hierarchicus. It was made, as the author himself explained in the preface, with the best cartographic resources of the time.

This first Atlas was written in five languages: German, Spanish, English, French and Italian, and was printed in Padernborn, Germany. It was presented to the Pope as a tribute in the Jubilee Year of 1913, on the 16th centenary of the Edict of Milan.