Explore South Asia's ancient dioceses

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The cathedral of the first diocese in India.

St. Thomas the Apostle, who is believed to have arrived on Kerala’s Malabar Coast in 52 AD, is considered the father of the Catholic faith in India.

Christian communities developed and expanded further when European missionaries arrived in the 13th and 14th centuries.

The history of a few ancient dioceses in Asia can be dated back to 13th century pre-Portuguese mission expeditions.

Find out the oldest diocese in India here.

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Diocese of Xiamen

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Diocese of Xiamen
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In a land area of 30,000 square kilometers, the diocese is located in the city of Xiamen in the Ecclesiastical province of Fuzhou in China.

Xiamen, also known as Amoy, is a coastal sub-provincial city in southeastern Fujian province. It looks out to the Taiwan Strait and borders Quanzhou to the north and Zhangzhou to the south.

Xiamen and the surrounding countryside are famous for being an ancestral home to overseas Chinese and one of China's earliest Special Economic Zones in the 1980s. It covers an area of 1, 565 square kilometers with a total population of 2.5 million. In 2006, it was named China's second 'most suitable city for living'.


What is now the diocese of Xiamen was established as Apostolic Vicariate of Amoy from the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Fo-kien on Dec. 3, 1883.

On April 11, 1946 the territory was promoted as Diocese of Xiamen.

In the 1300s Marco Polo reported that Fúzhou had a large group of Christians with roots going back hundreds of years. By the early 1300s, Quán-zhou had 3 Franciscan cathedrals, as well as a Jewish community. And given that Xiamen had the best port, it is not unlikely that Xiamen was frequented among others by Muslims, Nestorians, Franciscans.

The Museum of Overseas Communication History has tombstones with Christian designs from the 13th and 14th century on display.

Xiamen was one of the earliest seats of European commerce in China, with Portuguese (16th century) and Dutch (17th century) establishments. It was captured (1841) by the British in the Opium Wars, 1839-42 and 1856-60, two wars between China and Western countries. The first was between Great Britain and China, early in the 19th century.

It was long a Chinese port of emigration, mainly to South East Asia.


Xiamen has a monsoonal humid subtropical climate. Summers are hot and humid with 32°C average highs in July and August. Winters are humid and chilly with 10°C average lows in January and February.


Since Xiamen Special Economic Zone was established, it has opened up to foreign direct investment and created many jobs, factories, export opportunities for local companies and multi-national corporations. Xiamen benefits particularly from investment capital from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Xiamen's primary economic activities include fishing, shipbuilding, food processing, tanning, textiles, machine tools manufacturing, chemical industries, financial and telecommunication services.

Being the hometown of many overseas Chinese, Xiamen has actually benefited from the contribution of overseas Chinese and its economy has undertaken great advancement.

Most tourists come to Xiamen to visit Gulangyu Island, a small island which contains some beautiful colonial buildings and is car free.

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