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 Vellore

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Diocese of Vellore
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On Nov. 13, 1952, when the dioceses of Madras and Mylapore were amalgamated and made archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore, Vellore diocese was created.


In Vellore diocese, the population is 6,571,250, according to the 2017 census. The population of the whole country is 20 million. Tamils and Telegus form the major ethnic groups.


Tamil, Telugus and Urdu are the languages used here.


In 1969, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, detached the taluk (administrative division) of Tiruthani in the district of Chingleput belonging to the diocese and added it to the archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore. The taluks of Tiruvannamalai and Chengam in the district of Vellore belonging to the archdiocese of Pondicherry-Cuddalore were detached from it and added to the diocese of Vellore.

In 1975, the same congregation detached the five taluks of the civil district of Chittur, namely, Chittur, Palmaner, Kuppam, Bangarupalayam and Stayavedu, belonging to the diocese of Vellore and added to the diocese of Nellore, in Andhra Pradesh state. The civil district of North Arcot was divided into Vellore district and Tiruvannamalai district in October 1989. So the diocese of Vellore now comprises both the civil districts of Vellore and Tiruvannamalai.


Towns are governed by municipalities, whereas villages and small towns are administered by local bodies called panchayats. Members of the local bodies are elected by adult suffrage.


The diocesan area is well-connected in terms of transport infrastructure by roads and railway. The nearest airport is in Chennai, the capital city of the state of Tamil Nadu.


The diocese stretches over a land area of 12,265 square kilometers and covers the civil districts of Vellore and Tiruvanamalai. Vellore and Tiruvanamalai are the biggest towns in the diocese.


The per capita income in the diocesan territory is Rs 15,405 ($379). Farming is the major revenue earner. Tiruvanamalai is a famous Hindu spiritual center attracting millions of devotees each year.


Government and private operators provide extensive telecommunication facilities in the diocesan area. The diocese is well connected by local cable TV networks.


The literacy rate in the diocesan territory is 69.88 percent.

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