Roman Catholicism was first brought to Vietnam by Portuguese Catholic missionaries in the sixteenth century and further bolstered its presence during French colonial period. While the earliest missions did not gain very impressive results, the later missionaries by Jesuits in 1916 notched up notable success in the establishing Christian centers within the local population.
Nevertheless, the real turning point in its development marked with the arrival of Alexander de Rhodes – a French Jesuit missionary. During his 20 years in Vietnam, he made a considerable and lasting contribution to Vietnamese language by creating an alphabet which uses the Latin script with added diacritical marks and is still in use nowadays as the national language.
Regarding his achievements in gaining converts to Catholicism, his ability to work miracles and demonstrate superior power over those practicing animism enables him to baptize 6700 people as Catholics in 3 years. The year 1933 saw the appointment of the first Vietnamese bishop, and in 1960 a complete Vietnamese hierarchy was founded. This religion has undergone ups and downs on its way to become an official religion in Vietnam. Nowadays, there are about 6 million Catholics in Vietnam, mainly in the South.