The diocesan land area of 29, 857 square kilometers includes West Bengal's major urban centers – Kolkata, Kharagpur and Haldia port. The total population of 34,656,781 is a mix of ethnicities and religions.
Bengali is the official language of West Bengal, but English is the official language used by the archdiocese.
The first Christian settlements in Bengal appear at the end of the 16th century around the basilica in Bandel, which was buit in 1599 beside the Hooghly River. In 1834, at the petition of Calcutta Catholics, the Holy See erected the Vicariate of Bengal and entrusted it to the English Province of the Society of Jesus, and at the end of 1838 to the diocesan clergy.
On Feb. 17, 1845, the Holy See divided the Vicariate of Bengal into the Vicariates of Calcutta and Chittagong, the latter to be administered by its own Ordinary under the direction of the Apostolic Vicar of Calcutta. On Feb. 15, 1850, the two Vicariates of Calcutta and Chittagong were constituted as the independent Ecclesiastical units of West Bengal and East Bengal, respectively.
In 1856, at the request of Msgr. Oliffe, Apostolic Vicar of West Bengal, the Holy See entrusted the Vicariate to the Belgian Jesuits. The Vicariate was elevated to the Archdiocese of Calcutta in 1886.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) ruled the state from 1977 until May 2011, when the Trinamool Congress defeated the world's longest-serving elected communist government.
Famous for Rabindrasangeet music, Baul (traditional country songs with accompaniment on a one-stringed wooden instrument), folk theatre.
The most well-known Catholic pilgrimage centres in the archdiocese are the Basilica of the Holy Rosary in Bandel and Mother Teresa's tomb in the Missionaries of Charity motherhouse in Kolkata.
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.