The archdiocesan area of 26,788 sq. kilometres includes one of the country's eight divisions. It comprises the civil districts of Brahmanbaria, Chandpur, Comilla, Dhaka, Gazipur, Manikganj, Munshiganj, Narsingdi and Narayanganj. Dhaka is the national capital of Bangladesh.
By the second half of the 16th century, Catholics lived in various parts of present day Bangladesh. These areas included Hoshenpur of Mymensingh district and Sripur near Sonargaon, the old capital of eastern Bengal. When Mylapore (Chennai, India) was made a diocese in 1606, the mission stations of Bengal were placed under its jurisdiction. Among the churches erected by the Augustinians at that time were those at Nagori in 1695, and Tejgaon in 1677.
In 1834, the Vicariate Apostolic of Bengal was created under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. In 1850, this Vicariate was divided into two, the Apostolic Vicariates of Eastern and Western Bengal. In 1852, the Vicariate of Eastern Bengal, with its headquarters in Dhaka, was entrusted to the newly-founded Congregation of the Holy Cross, whose first missioners arrived in 1853. The congregation still serves in Bangladesh.
The first Vicar Apostolic of Eastern Bengal, Monsignor Thomas Oliffe, served during 1852-53. From 1855 to 1859, Father Louis Verite CSC served as Pro Vicar Apostolic. His successor Father Pierre Dufal CSC was named Vicar Apostolic in 1860 and was ordained a bishop in France. He returned to Dhaka in 1861 and served there until 1876.
From 1876 to 1889, when the Holy Cross missionaries were recalled by their superior to France, the vicariate was administered by Benedictine monks of the Anglo-Belgian province. Dom Cuthbert Downey served as Pro Vicar Apostolic and Dom Gregory de Groote as administrator.
In 1889, the Holy Cross missionaries returned, led by Father Michael Fallize. The Diocese of Dhaka had been canonically erected on September 1, 1886, its territory including that of the present day dioceses of Chittagong (Bangladesh), Silchar (Assam, India), and Prome (Myanmar). Chittagong was removed from the jurisdiction of Dhaka in 1927.
When it gained independence in 1947, Dhaka was still a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Calcutta in India. In July 1950, Dhaka was raised to an archdiocese, heading a new ecclesiastical province with Chittagong , Dinajpur and Jessore (present-day Khulna) dioceses as suffragans. Holy Cross Father Lawrence Leo Graner was appointed the first Archbishop of Dhaka.
In September 1960, Pope John XXlll gave Dhaka (and Bangladesh as a whole) its first Bengali bishop in the person of Auxiliary Bishop Theotonius A. Ganguly, CSC. In November 1967, Bishop Ganguly became the first Bengali Archbishop of Dhaka. Following his death in September 1977, Bishop Michael Rozario of Dinajpur was appointed the third Archbishop of Dhaka on December 17, 1977. He was installed on April 9, 1978.
In the meantime, Bangladesh had won its independence from Pakistan in December 1971, and the archdiocese, as the only metropolitan see for all of Bangladesh, grew in importance and received greater responsibility.
Bengali (Bangla) is widely spoken, while English is the second language, especially among the educated people. The Indian languages of Hindi and Telegu are also spoken, as well as the tribal languages of the Garo, Khasi, Santali and Oraon.
Buses and other road transport are the primary means of reaching the different parts of the archdiocese. Trains and boats serve some areas, and rickshaws and trishaws are still popular in remote villages.
Sub-districts and district towns have telecommunications services that are now extending to villages. Mobile phones are available even at the countryside. Bangladesh Television (BTV), situated in Dhaka, is the only TV broadcasting station there, and it covers the whole country.
There are also two or three state-run radio stations located in Dhaka, and one or two private FM radio stations that serve Dhaka city. Satellite and cable TV are available in towns and some villages.
Gonsalo's martyrdom at Nagasaki with the other Christian missionaries is regarded as the most tragic and historic event for Catholicism in Japan
Calungsod and his companion Father Vitores baptized infants, children and adults, defying the risk of persecution and murder
Despite being an ordinary layman, Ruiz remained defiant while facing torture by the Japanese and died a brave martyr
He was the first Korean-born Catholic priest and is now the patron saint of Korea
This fabled church is also known by its Syriac name Mar Sleeva (Holy Cross) Church
Asian Catholics who cannot visit famous Our Lady of Lourdes shrine in France can revere miraculous Mother Mary at Velankanni shrine in India. The Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health is popularly known as “the Lourdes of the East” and holds the largest Catholic Church in Asia.
Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica at Fort Kochi is one of the finest churches and a historic but also a landmark in Kerala state of southern India. Santa Cruz Church blends Indo-European and Gothic architectural style that draws tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year. The cathedral is a great place of devotion and historic significance that survived colonial conquests and invasions to the city.
Mokama Marian shrine on the southern bank of Ganges River bears the legacy persecuted Nepali Catholics banished from their homeland to India for refusing to renounce their faith. Our Lady of Divine Grace Church at Mokama stands about 90 kilometers from Patna, the capital of eastern Indian state of Bihar. Mother Mary is popularly known as Mokama Mata (Mother of Mokama). The church was built to honor Mary in 1947.
The shrine holds a three-meter-tall, white-stone carved statue Virgin Mary on the Tao Pao Mountain in the Diocese of Phan Thiet in southern Vietnam, about 1,600 kilometers from the national capital Hanoi.
The Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Urakami of Nagasaki is a witness of persecution of Christians from 17th to 19th centuries and deadly atomic bombing during the Second World War. This European-style, red-brick church continues to preserve some relics that survived the atomic bombing. Urakami cathedral, also known as St. Mary’s Cathedral, was almost destroyed when the atomic bomb was dropped on Aug. 9, 1945. The church stood about 500 meters from the hypocenter of atomic explosion. The devastation shattered and charred stone-made statues of saints, which were later preserved as relics along with the surviving head of Virgin Mary statue and one of the church’s original bells.
Our Lady of Akita Catholic Church is Yuzawadai is among the most famous churches in Japan. The church shot into global fame thanks to a wooden statue of Blessed Virgin Mary that wept 101 times and Marian apparitions to Japanese nun Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa that miraculously healed her hearing impairment. Japanese wooden sculptor Saburo Wakasa from Akita city carved the now-famous miraculous statue of Virgin Mary in 1963.
The Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in Seria is a small church on the western Belait district of Brunei, but it shot into fame thanks to the nation’s most famous Catholic – late Cardinal Cornelius Sim. It is also the second of three churches in Brunei dedicated to Virgin Mary. In fact, Mary has a prominent place not only in Christianity, but also in Islam, the dominant faith in Brunei. Holy Quran mentions Mary seventy times and reveres her as the greatest woman to have ever lived.