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 Visakapatnam

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Archdiocese of Visakapatnam
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In a land area of 25,950 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers civil districts of Visakhapatnam, Viziangaram and East Godavari. Visakhapatnam is the biggest city in the diocese. Vizianagaram, Kakinada and Rajahmundry are other important towns in the diocese.


In Visakhapatnam diocese, the population is 12,628,834 at end of 2006. (The population of the whole country is about 1, 2 billion). Most residents are ethnic Telegus. Tribals also form part of the diocese.


Telegu Hindi and English are the languages used in the diocesan area.


Visakhapatnam was part of the diocese of Mylapore from 1806, and in 1833 it became part of the vicariate apostolic of Madras. However, organized Church work began to take place only from 1845, when it was erected as a separate pro-vicariate on March 16, 1845, and was handed over to the Fathers of St. Francis de Sales of Annecy, France. Later it was made a vicariate apostolic by Pope Pius IX on April 3, 1850; and it was constituted into a diocese when the Indian Hierarchy was established on Sept. 1, 1886. This original territory of the diocese of Visakhapatnam in 1886 has given shape by now to some fourteen dioceses including three archdioceses, Nagpur being the first one in 1887 and Srikakulam being the latest one in 1993.

The Fathers of St. Francis de Sales on their arrival in Visakhapatnam found there one old Theatine priest who was the last survivor of the priests from Mylapore. The present diocese is only less than one twentieth in area of the original diocese in 1886.

It became an archdiocese on Oct. 30, 2001. The Metropolitan has as its suffragans the dioceses of Srikakulam, Eluru, Vijayawada, Guntur and Nellore, lying near the coastal belt on the Bay of Bengal.


The City is managed by Corporation. The villages and small towns are administered by elected local bodies called panchayats and municipalities respectively.


The diocesan area is well-connected in terms of transport infrastructure by roads and railways. The nearest airport is in Visakhapatnam city. The city has a major port and a naval base.


The per capita income in the diocese territory is Rs 27,712 ($567) as of July 2009. Farming, especially paddy cultivation, is the biggest occupation. Shipbuilding, oil refinery and steel factories provide jobs in the diocesan area.


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


Nearly 54.03 percent is the literacy rate in the diocesan territory.

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