Explore the Oldest Dioceses in South Asia

Cardinal Cheong

The cathedral of the first diocese in India.

It is believed that Christianity was introduced to India by Thomas the Apostle,
who is said to have reached the Malabar Coast of Kerala in 52 AD.

Christian communities developed and expanded further when
Portuguese missionaries arrived in the 13th and 14th centuries.

History of a few oldest dioceses in India as the cradle of Indian Christianity
can be dated back to the 15th century.

Find out which is the first diocese in India here.

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Church in Singapore

Capital : Singapore
Population : 5.63 million
Catholics : 157,988 (2.80%)
Jurisdictions : One Archdiocese
Parishes : 29
Major Religions : Buddhism 33.2%, Taoism 11%, Christianity 18.7%, Irreligious 17.5%, Islam 14%, Hinduism 4%, Others 0.6%
Catholicism in Singapore traces its origin to the Portuguese-established Malacca diocese soon after Affonso de Albuquerque's conquest of it in 1511.

It is believed that the first Catholic priest set foot in British Singapore in 1821 to cater to the needs of the growing community consisting largely of Europeans and some Chinese. It is probable that there had been Portuguese missionaries operating out of Malacca in Singapore during the Portuguese period from 1511 to 1641, prior to the British conquest.

Within a time span of several years, notable Catholic churches, such as the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, were built. Missionary schools were established and attended by Catholics and non-Catholics.

Chinese Catholics in the city state are found at Sts Peter and Paul (Queen St), and the Sacred Heart Church (Tank Road). Conversion to Catholicism among the Chinese community in the 19th century was met with disdain from the Chinese immigrant societies in Singapore. Many of them were wealthy plantation owners. Most of them lived in the Upper Serangoon and Hougang areas where the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is located in what was traditionally a Teochew-speaking heartland.

During World War II, in an attempt to manage the growing needs of the local people in Singapore, many Roman Catholics of Eurasian and Chinese ethnicity were deported to Bahau, also aptly called "Fuji Village" at that time, to be self-sufficient in their own food supply.

In 2005, Singapore held an exhibition, dubbed Journey of Faith, on artefacts from the Vatican City in the Asian Civilizations Museum at Empress Building, Roman Catholic-oriented artefacts, focusing on art and history, were put on display from June to October 2005.

About 4.6 percent, or some 210,000 people in Singapore, are Catholics. Among them are Chinese (including Peranakan) and Eurasian-descent (mostly Portuguese-descent), along with a Filipino, Indian and European minority.
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