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 Tellicherry

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Archdiocese of Tellicherry
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Tellicherry archdiocese belongs to the Syro Malabar Church and covers the territory of Kannur and Kasargode districts in Kerala.


The metropolitan archdiocese has an area of approximately 4,902 square kilometers.

Tellicherry Archdiocese has 283,395 baptized Catholics (as of December 2017), representing 7.8 percent of all 3,620,000 people in the archdiocesan territory.

Thalassery archdiocese has been a multi-ethnic and multi religious region.

Thalassery (Tellicherry) is a city on the Malabar coast of Kerala. It is the 8th largest city of Kerala in terms of population. Once it was a European colony. Thalassery was a major commercial center during the British rule of India. The name Tellicherry is the anglicized form of Thalassery.


Malayalam and English are the languages used in the diocesan territory.


Tellicherry diocese was established by Pope Pius XII on Dec. 31, 1953, as a suffragan of Ernakulam archdiocese. It was for the Catholics of the Syro-Malabar Church who migrated to Malabar region of the erstwhile Travancore and Cochin states. As Catholics of Syro-Malabar Church migrated even to the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu the boundaries were extended to Mangalore, Chickmangalore, Mysore, Shimoga and Ootacammund.

Bishop Sebastian Valloppilly took charge of the diocese as apostolic administrator on March 19, 1954. He was elected first bishop of Tellicherry on Oct. 16, 1955, and was consecrated on Jan. 8, 1956.

Later, the diocese was bifurcated and the new diocese of Mananthavady was formed on March 1, 1973. When the new diocese of Palghat was erected on June 20, 1974, the parishes of Tellicherry which belonged to the district of Palghat were entrusted to the new diocese. The diocese was again bifurcated on April 28, 1986, and the new diocese of Thamarassery was formed comprising the districts of Calicut and Malappuram.

On May 1995, Pope John Paul II raised the diocese of Tellicherry to the status of metropolitan archdiocese. The archdiocese was again bifurcated on April 24, 1999, and the new diocese of Belthangady was formed.


The territory is well connected by roads and railway. Thalassery railway station is one of the major railway stations in Kerala. The nearest airport is at Kozhikode, about 93 kilometers away from the city.


The district has a humid climate with hot season extending from March to May. The most important rainy season is during the southwest monsoon which sets in the first week of June and extends up to September. The northeast monsoon extends from the second half of October through November. The average annual rainfall is 3,438 mm. During December to March, practically no rain is received and from October onwards, the temperature gradually increases to reach the maximum in May, which is the hottest month of the year. The maximum temperature in the month of May reaches 36 degrees Celsius.


The economy of Tellichrerry archdiocese is mainly based on agriculture. Rubber, coconut, and pepper are cultivated. Handloom industry is flourishing here.


The level of telecommunications infrastructure is high. Almost everyone has a mobile phone in town areas. Most of the homes have television, telephone and internet. In rural areas access to modern communication is limited. There are no television broadcasting stations but there are a number of private FM stations and government run AM and FM stations in the diocesan territory.

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