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A Brief History

While officially secular, India is one of the most publicly religious countries on the planet. Nearly 80% of the population is Hindu, and Hinduism has made the most evident and profound impact on the culture there. But India is extremely pluralistic, and its religious vibrancy – in all forms – is put on public view in vivid color.

Catholicism continues to be influenced by the many other religions that thrive there. Catholics’ extreme devotional practice draws from Hindu, Syrian, and colonial Portuguese and contemporary Catholic practices. India is also home to two Eastern rite churches in full communion with the pope, the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara, who trace their origins to the Apostle Thomas.

The history of the Catholic Church in India is very extensive. It traces its origin in the preaching of the Apostle St. Thomas, who, according to tradition, came to India in 52 A.D., and was martyred in a place called Mylapore near the present town of Chennai (Madras), where his tomb is found.

From various records of travelers we know the existence of isolated Christian communities in India already in the year 345 (Travancore).

In the 9th century the patriarch of the Nestorians in Persia sent bishops toIndia. There is a record of an Indian bishop visiting Rome in the early part of the 12thcentury.

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The Indian Church is a communion of three individual Churches: 

Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara.

Diocese Summary

SummaryLatinSyro-MalabarSyro-Malankara
Diocese : 145
Archdiocese : 27

Total : 172
Diocese : 112
Archdiocese : 22

Total : 134
Diocese : 26
Archdiocese : 4

Total : 30
Diocese : 7
Archdiocese : 1

Total : 8

Bishops' Summary

SummaryLatinSyro-MalabarSyro-Malankara
Cardinals : 0
Archbishops : 25
Bishops : 138
Aux.Bishop : 14
Co-Adjutors : 0
Curia Bishops : 1
Apostolic Visitator : 0
Apostolic Administrator : 3
Retired : 61
Diocesan Administrator : 0

Total : 242
Cardinals : 0
Archbishops : 21
Bishops : 106
Aux.Bishop : 6
Co-Adjutors : 0
Curia Bishops : 0
Apostolic Visitator : 0
Apostolic Administrator : 3
Retired : 40
Diocesan Administrator : 0

Total : 176
Cardinals : 0
Archbishops : 3
Bishops : 24
Aux.Bishop : 6
Co-Adjutors : 0
Curia Bishops : 0
Apostolic Visitator : 0
Apostolic Administrator : 0
Retired : 19
Diocesan Administrator : 0

Total : 52
Cardinals : 0
Archbishops : 1
Bishops : 8
Aux.Bishop : 2
Co-Adjutors : 0
Curia Bishops : 1
Apostolic Visitator : 0
Apostolic Administrator : 0
Retired : 1
Diocesan Administrator : 0

Total : 13