Vizcaya Catholic Church Records

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

Catholicism's roots extend deep into Spain's history. Parish and diocesan records created by the Catholic Church in Spain have long been considered some of the richest genealogical records in the world. Ever since the Council of Trent Catholic parish records have been consistently recorded, usually providing three generations in a single baptismal entry.

The Catholic Church has created several different records. The most used in genealogical research include: baptisms (bautizos, bautismos), marriages (matrimonios), and burials (entierros, defunciones, fallecimientos). Other records include: confirmations (confimaciones), pre-marriage investigations (expedientes matrimoniales, información matrimonial).

Parish Records[edit | edit source]

Parish records are the most common Church record used in family history and genealogical research. Spanish Catholic parish records were recorded by local parish priests; however, most of the records (older than 100 years) have been centralized into the diocesan archive to which the parish belongs. Parish records include the following:

  • Baptisms
  • Confirmations (sometimes recorded in the parish baptism book, but sometimes they are recorded in their own book(s)
  • Marriages (marriage blessings sometimes separate)
  • Deaths or Burials

Diocesan Records[edit | edit source]

Vizcaya is primarily covered by the diocese of Bilbao with the exception of the city of Orduña which is part of the diocese of Vitoria. A guide to the diocese of Vitoria is available on microfilm. [FHL INTL Film 102789]. Diocesan records include:

  • Administrative and Financial
  • Disciplinary and Judicial
  • Marriage Dispensations and Pre-marriage Investigations
  • Pastoral Visits and Confirmations

Locating Diocesan and Parish Records[edit | edit source]

There are three different ways to obtain Catholic Church records for the province Vizcaya.

Online[edit | edit source]

Not very many Church records have been digitized and placed online but the numbers are growing. The following archives hav placed either indexes or images online.

Indexed records available on FamilySearch

Some parishes in Vizcaya have been indexed, you may be able to find your ancestors by searching the following collections.

If you find an indexed record for your ancestor, it is very important that you find a way to view the original record. Copies of records can be ordered from the Archivo Histórico Eclesiástico de Vizcaya if you find it on their site and it is not available on microfilm at the Family History Library or at your local FamilySearch Center. To find a center near your home, click on the words Center Locator to begin your search.

Microfilms[edit | edit source]

Family History Library (FHL) and Family History Centers (FHCs)

The FHL is the largest genealogical library in the world. The FHL has microfilmed parish records for a good portion of the province of Vizcaya although for some parishes the years covered vary from parish to parish. To determine if the FHL has microfilmed records for the parish (or dioceses) your ancestors lived, perform a Place Search in the FamilySearch Catalog.

Archive Research[edit | edit source]

This can be done either through letter correspondence, email (sometimes), or researching in person. Please see the Spain Catholic Church Directories article for more contact information for dioceses and parishes. You can find diocesan websites at: please visit the site to determine if you can make an email request. Another site with good information on the archives of Spain (both ecclesiastical and government) is the Censo-Guía de Archivos de España e Iberoamérica (  While it is only available in Spanish, it can provide detailed information on the collections and documents within an archive and allows you to narrow your search down to specific archives.

Wiki articles describing online collections are found at: