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 Tuticorin

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Diocese of Tuticorin
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In a land area of 6,400 square kilometers, the Tuticorin diocesan territory covers the whole Tuticorin civil district and parts of Tirunelveli civil district.


The total population in the territory is 2,702,123.


The major language in the area is Tamil.


Between 1535 and 1537 people from 30 villages in Tuticorin received baptism. In 1538, the first church was built in Tuticorin.

In 1542 - St. Francis Xavier arrived in Tuticorin and convened the first priests’ meeting in Manapad, a village some 40 km from Tuticorin

In 1558, the first seminary was inaugurated.

In 1658, the Dutch captured Tuticorin from Portuguese and harassed Catholics. Catholic Churches in Coromandel Coast were destroyed.

In 1680, St. John de Britto, who was martyred in Oriyur, built a church in Vadankulam. In 1690, a large number of people in Vadakankulam received baptism.

In 1785 the Vatican gave permission to French Missionaries to work in the diocese.

On June 12, 1923, Pope Pius XI separated Tuticorin from Tiruchi diocese and created the first Indian-administered Latin-rite diocese.

On Sept. 23, 1923, Bishop Gabriel Tiburtius Roche was installed as the first Indian bishop.


The per capita income in the diocese territory is Rs 22,781 ($506) in 2002, according to the directorate of economics and statistics. Fishing and agriculture are practised here.


According to the census of 2001, the literacy rate in Tuticorin is 81.52 percent.

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