Explore the Oldest Dioceses in South Asia

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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 Vijayapuram

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Diocese of Vijayapuram
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Vijayapuram diocese belonging to the Latin Rite comprises an area of 9000 square kilometers. Vijayapuram diocese was established on July 14, 1930, as a suffragan diocese of metropolitan archdiocese of Verapoly. Vijayapuram diocese is located in the city of Vijayapuram in the ecclesiastical province of Verapoly. Vijayapuram diocese comprises the entire districts of Kottayam, Idukki and partial portions of the districts of Alleppey, Ernakulam and Pathanamthitta.


The total population of the diocesan territory is 4,226,601 (as per the Census of 2017). The diocesan territory has a multi-ethnic and multi-religious background. Christians, Hindus and Muslims are the major communities here.


Malayalam, English and Tamil are in use in the diocese.


Pope Pius XI bifurcated the archdiocese of Verapoly and erected the diocese of Vijayapuram on July 14, 1930. The headquarters of the diocese is in Kottayam town. As there is an Oriental Catholic diocese, Kottayam, the formators decided to name the new diocese Vijayapuram, because it was the panchayath adjacent to Kottayam town.

In the middle of 18th century Latin Catholics from the diocese of Cochin migrated to Vaisiambhagom, Nedumudy, Kanjpadam and its vicinities and in the first half of the 19th century Catholics from Quilon migrated to Maramon, Ranny, Vanayathukkara, Thiruvalla, Changanacherry and Poovam. The migration to the high ranges of Idukki districts began in the second half of the 19th century. People from Verapoly, Cochin and from different corners of Tamil Nadu settled down in this region.

Brother Rockey Palackal OCD, a zealous missionary worked among them and geared up the formation of the diocese of Vijayapuram. He was known as the apostle of the outcastes. Later, the area was entrusted to the Carmelites by the archdiocese of Verapoly. The administration of the diocese was in the hands of the Carmelites of the Navara Province. The first two bishops, Peter Bonaventure Arana (1931-1950) and Ambrose Abasolo (1950-1971) were Spaniards. The first Indian bishop to take over the reign of the diocese was Cornelius Elanjickal and he was followed by Peter Thuruthikonam.


The territory is well connected with roads. The district has daily train services to all major cities of the country. The nearest airport is the Cochin International Airport which is nearly 65 kilometers from the diocesan headquarters.


The diocesan territory has equatorial climate, hot and humid. 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. 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 comes to 34 degrees Celsius.


The economy of Vijayapuram diocese is mainly based on agriculture. A major part of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. Rubber is the main cash crop. Coconuts, coca, pepper, vanilla and coffee are other major cultivations. The Christians in the diocese are financially well off. Major industries are related to the processing of rubber latex and manufacturing of rubber products. Tourism has a major contribution to the district of Kottayam.


The level of telecommunications infrastructure is high. Almost everyone has a mobile phone. Most of the homes have televisions, telephone and internet. In rural areas access to internet is limited.


Literacy rate in the diocesan territory is 95.9 percent, higher than the national average of 59.5 percent.

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