Gwalior diocese is spread over 33,583 Square Kilometers covering six districts: Bhind, Datia, Gwalior, Morena, Sheopur and Shivpuri of Madhya Pradesh.
Gwalior was the capital city of Great Maratha Sardar (knight) and warrior Maharaja Shrimant Madhavraoji Shinde and the capital of the Scindia dynasty of Gwalior state. The city is located on the periphery of Madhya Pradesh state, 321 kilometers from Delhi and 121 kilometers from Agra. The distance between Gwalior and Bhopal is 423 kilometers.
The new section of the city is called Lashkar. Lashkar is few miles south from the old city. It is the site of factories producing cotton, yarn, paint, ceramics, chemicals, and leather products. The old city is covered with white sandstone mosques, palaces, rock temples and statues of archaeological and architectural interest.
As of 2016, Gwalior has a population of 6,098,000 of which 54 percent are males and 46 percent are females. Ethnic groups in the territory include Maharahstrians, Marwaris, Sikhs and Gujarathis. Majority of the population are Hindus followed by Muslims, Sikhs, Jains and Christians.
Hindi is the main language of the people while Urdu, Marathi and Bundelkhandi are spoken.
Gwalior diocese was erected on Feb. 9, 1999, by Pope John Paul II with territory taken from the diocese of Jhansi. The vast extension of Jhansi diocese did not favor adequate development of the areas and due to the dependence on two different civil administrations, the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Besides, there were good prospects for evangelization among the tribal population.
The present church of St. John the Baptist was built by John Baptist Filose in 1828. Father Constant Fernandez, a Goan diocesan priest, was the first residing chaplain. He worked here from 1832 to 1844. In August 1844, Father Anastasius Hartmann, a German Capuchin, succeeded him. Father Anastasius worked 18 months in Gwalior. During his stay he opened a school for the education of poor children, established an industrial center for the employment of young girls and widows, provided the station with a burial ground and education uplift of his flock. His whole idea was to make the Christians better, to get them to lead a real Catholic life.
The list of the chaplains in Gwalior is rather long. There were 33 chaplains from 1832 till it was dismembered from Agra archdiocese (established in 1886) and added to the diocese of Jhansi on July 5, 1954.
Father Joseph Kaithathara was appointed as the parish priest of St. John the Baptist Church Lashkar, Gwalior, in September 1996. On Feb. 9, 1999, he was appointed the first bishop of Gwalior diocese.
Gwalior is well connected through road, rail and air routes.
The climate can be termed as extremes, both in summer and winter. The summers are usually very hot and the winters very cold in Gwalior. The rains in Gwalior are, however, restricted only to the monsoon months. The monsoon starts usually from the first week of July and continues till the middle of September. Gwalior falls in the rain shadow zone of India. As a result, it receives an average of only 700 mm per annum, almost half of what the other places of the state receives in average.
The district literacy rate is presently 68.08 percent which is above the state literacy rate of 64.11 percent.
On every first Friday of the month thousands of Catholics flock to Holy Cross Church of Cherpunkal in Kerala, India to revere Infant Jesus and St. Thomas, the founder of the church. The church stands on the southern bank of Meenachil River. This fabled church, also known by its Syriac name Mar Sleeva (Holy Cross)Church, belongs to Catholic Diocese of Palai of the Eastern-rite Syro-Malabar Church.
St. Mary’s Cathedral Church in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand state, is the mother church in the tribal belt of eastern India, where Belgian Jesuits laid the foundation of Catholicism in 19th century. This brownish Church, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of Virgin Mary, stands on Dr. Camil Bulcke Path and nestles between St. Xavier’s College and St. Albert Major Seminary.
Basilica of Our Lady of Graces in Sardhana is a historic church that lives the memory of love and benevolence of the sole female Roman Catholic ruler in India. Our Lady of Graces Church of Sardhana stands at Meerut district in Uttar Pradesh of northern India. Consecrated in 1822, this 200-feet long church with a high central dome over the main altar, is one of the largest churches in northern India.
Saint Thomas Cathedral Basilica at Mylapore is a monumental declaration on ancient root of Christianity in India. The church was built over the tomb of St. Thomas, the Apostle who is believed to have preached Christianity in India. The cathedral preserves 2000-year-old bones of the saint and the lance that pierced him to death. Popularly known as Santhome Church, the cathedral at Chennai (formerly Madras) in Tamil Nadu state was constructed during the Portuguese era in the 16th century. “San Thome” assumes its name from St. Thomas.
St. Joseph’s Church in Lahore is the oldest Catholic Church in Pakistan that has flourished since the 19th century despite deadly sectarian violence in recent years. The church at Sarfaraz Rafiqui Road in Lahore was established as a wooden structure during the British colonial era, on Oct. 31, 1842, to provide pastoral care to the British soldiers. It completed 180 years this year.
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.
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.
The Cathedral of Good Shepherd in Singapore is a historic National Monument, but it also holds first-class relics of a French saint who brought Catholicism on the shores of city-state two centuries ago. Built in 1847, the Good Shepherd Cathedral is the oldest Catholic Church and mother church of all Catholic churches in Singapore.