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After the Dutch insurrection, Catholicism was considered an illegal religion. Normal Catholic celebrations were not possible in the United Provinces, therefore Pope Clement VIII decided in 1592 to declare the area above the river Waal as a mission area, as large portions of the area's population had fallen to Protestantism, at least officially, except for some minor staunchly Catholic regions. Only after the 17th century however would the Calvinist state religion get a firm grip over the vast majority of the northern population of the Netherlands, previously many had still secretly remained loyal to their ancestors' religion.
This Dutch Mission was under control of an apostolic vicar: a titular bishop having jurisdiction over mission areas without an established normal hierarchy. The southern, entirely Catholic, provinces (considered colonies by the Dutch States) were under control of the Church province of Mechelen.
In the early 18th century there was a grave internal conflict around the apostolic vicars Neercassel and Codde, who were accused of Jansenism. This resulted in the founding of the Old Catholic Church of Utrecht in 1723 and the schism of several thousands of leading Dutch Catholics with the Roman See.
In 1725, in a clear act of anti-Catholicism and in an attempt to divide the country's Catholics and stimulate the Old Catholic Ultrajectine organization, the States-General of the Republic banned the apostolic vicars definitely from the country. From this moment the apostolic nuncio in Brussels was in charge of the mission. Demise of the country's Catholics continued, although virtually all continuing Catholics who did not capitulate to pressures by officials to convert to Protestantism, remained in union with the pope.
In 1795 the Batavian Republic was proclaimed, and there was an official freedom of religion. Churches did not have to be hidden anymore, new seminaries for priests were founded, and several monasteries were reinstated.
Apostolic vicars of the Dutch Mission (Hollandse Zending)
- Sasbout Vosmeer (1592-1614) Titular Archbishop of Philippi
- Philippus Rovenius (1614-1651) Titular Archbishop of Philippi
- Jacobus de la Torre (1652-1661) Titular Archbishop of Ephesus
- Boudewijn Catz (1662-1663) Titular Archbishop of Philippi
- Johannes van Neercassel (1663-1686) Titular Bishop of Castoria
- Petrus Codde (1688-1701) Titular Archbishop of Sebaste
- Theodorus de Cock (1702-1704)
- Gerhard Potcamp (1705)
- Adam Daemen (1707-1717) Titular Archbishop of Adrianople
- Johannes van Bijlevelt (1717-1725)
Apostolic vicars who were in charge of the Dutch Mission from Brussels
- Joseph Spinelli (1725-1731)
- Vincentius Montalto (1731-1732)
- Silvester Valenti Gonzaga (1732-1736)
- Franciscus Goddard (1736-1737)
- Lucas Melchior Tempi (1737-1743)
- Petrus Paulus Testa (1744)
- Ignatius Crivelli (1744-1755)
- Carolus Molinari (1755-1763)
- Batholomeus Soffredini (1763)
- Thomas Maria Ghilini (1763-1775)
- Joannes Antonius Maggiora (1775-1776)
- Ignatius Busca (1776-1785)
- Michael Causati (1785-1786)
- Antonius Felix Zondadari (1786-1790)
- Caesar Brancadoro (1792-1794)
- Ludovicus Ciamberlani (1794-1828)
- Franciscus Cappacini (1829-1831)
- Antonius Antonucci (1831-1841)
- Innocentius Ferrieri (1841-1847)
- Johannes Zwijsen (1847-1848)
- Carolus Belgrado (1848-1853)