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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Diocese of Jagdalpur

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Diocese of Jagdalpur
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With a land area of 39,171 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers southern region of the Chhattisgarh state in central India.

On March 23, 1972 the exarchate of Jagdalpur was created by separating the civil districts of Bastar from the apostolic prefecture of Raipur, entrusting it to the Syro-Malabar rite Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI) fathers.


In 2016, the population of Jagdalpur diocese was 3,240,000 and 68 percent of them are tribals such as Muria, Maria, Halba, Bhatra, Dorla, Gond, Oraon, Korava and Kol.


Though Hindi is the official language, it is alien to most tribals. There are about 78 tribal dialects such as Muria, Halbi, Dhatri, Gondi and Chhattisgarhi in use.


Under the apostolic prefecture of Raipur, the Society of the Missionaries of St. Francis Xavier had cared the region.

After the exarchate of Jagdalpur was created in 1972, Monsignor Paulinus Jeerakath, CMI, was appointed the first exarch of Jagdalpur mission.

On Feb. 26, 1977, Pope Paul VI raised the exarchate to a Syro-Malabar diocese, appointing Monsignor Jeerakath as its first bishop. After his demise on Aug. 6, 1990, at the age of 70, Father Simon Stock Palathra, CMI, was appointed his successor. Bishop Simon Stock Palathra retired on Jul. 16, 2013 and Bishop Joseph Kollamparampil took the office on Jul. 16, 2013.

The diocese does not have many local converts. The Catholics are mostly migrant Oraon tribals from the neighboring Raigarh diocese, who are employed in government and private sectors or have settled down due to availability of agricultural land.

This is the only Syro-Malabar diocese in Chhattisgarh state.

Monsignor Jeerakath started a diocesan woman's religious Congregation, Deen Bandhu Samaj, in 1976.


People’s livelihood depends on agriculture, fishing and collecting forest produce. Villagers cultivate paddy. Iron ore is exported from Kirandul. The region is considered backward due to illiteracy and lack of development.

The literacy rate in the diocesan territory is 36 percent for males and 16.2 percent for females.


Jagdalpur is situated 299 kilometers south of Raipur, the state capital. It is predominantly a forest area, home to many tribals.

The rich culture of the area is reflected in the numerous fairs, festivals, folk songs, dances and dramas.

The region is also known for its natural beauty, palaces, temples, caves, national parks, wild animals, waterfalls, fairs and festivals.

The Maoists are active in the region and pose a great challenge to the government.

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