The Philippines has the most number of children baptized as Catholics, according to data in the Catholic Church’s latest Statistical Yearbook.
The country also ranked third in the world with the most baptized Catholics.
The Philippines marked the 500th anniversary of the first Christian baptism in the country on Wednesday, April 14.
On April 14, 1521, Cebu chieftain Datu Humabon, and 800 of their followers were baptized Catholics by Father Pedro de Valderrama.
The baptism came a week after the arrival of the Spanish expedition led by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan on the island of Cebu.
A report by the Catholic News Service said the Philippines recorded more than 1.6 million baptisms of children under the age of 7 at the end of 2019.
Next in line is Mexico with more than 1.48 million; Brazil with more than 1.05 million; 595,286 in the United States; and Colombia with 442,396.
The yearbook provides separate statistics for the baptism of people above seven years old.
Overall, the Philippines remained in the top five countries with the most people baptized as Catholics.
The figures showed Brazil had 177 million baptized Catholics in 2019; Mexico had 115.5 million; the Philippines had 89 million; the US had almost 74 million; and Italy had 57.8 million.
The Annuario Pontificio, which was released in March, contains figures valid as of Dec. 31, 2019, about every Vatican office, as well as every diocese and religious order in the world.
Worldwide, the number of Catholics has increased by 16 million in a year to 1.34 billion, holding steady at about 17.7 percent of the global population.
The growth was also spread across continents except Europe.
In 2019, 48.1% of the world’s Catholics were living in the Americas, followed by Europe with 21.2%, Africa with 18.7% , about 11% in Asia and 0.8% in Oceania.