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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Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar

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Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar
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The archdiocese of Cuttack–Bhubaneswar comprises nine civil districts of Boudh, Cuttack, Kandhamal, Kendrapara, Khurda, Jagatsingpur, Jajpur, Nayagarh and Puri in Orissa state in eastern India.

The diocese of Cuttack was part of the diocese of Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) since 1845, when missionaries of St. Francis de Sales, (MSFS) established parishes and took care of the pastoral needs of the region.

During the First World War, the French Missionaries went back to France. On Jan. 10, 1922, a group of four Spanish Vincentian priests (Congregation of Mission) came to Orissa and they replaced the French MSFS missionaries.

On July 18, 1928, Pope Pius XI declared the Mission of Cuttack “Missio Sui Juris.” Father Valerian Guemes, CM, was appointed its administrator and later as the ecclesiastical superior. In 1937, the Cuttack Mission was elevated to a diocese and made a suffragan of Ranchi archdiocese and Msgr. Florencio Sanz Esperanza, CM, was appointed first bishop of Cuttack diocese in 1938.

In 1948, he retired and Msgr. Paul Tobar Gonzalves, CM, became his successor. On April 18, 1971, Bishop Tobar died and Father Vincent Urbaneja, CM, was elected administrator of the diocese.

On Jan. 24, 1974, the Cuttack Mission was divided into the metropolitan see of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar and the diocese of Berhampur. Msgr. Henry D’Souza was appointed the first archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar. He was ordained on May 5, 1974, in Calcutta. In the same year the bishop’s residence was moved from Cuttack to Bhubaneswar, the state capital.

In April 1984, Archbishop D’Souza was called back to the archdiocese of Calcutta. On  Aug. 11, 1985, Bishop Raphael Cheenath, SVD, of the diocese of Sambalpur succeeded him as the archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar.

When Archbishop Cheenath retired Bishop John Barwa was selected as archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar on Feb. 11, 2011. Archbishop Barwa was installed on April 2, 2011, at our Lady of Most Holy Rosary Cathedral, Cuttack.

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