Kannur diocese covers the territory of Kannur and Kasargode districts of Kerala which comprises an area of 4,988 square kilometers.
The total population of the diocesan territory is 2,874,064 as per the 2016 census. Kannur diocese has been a multi-ethnic and multi religious region.
Malayalam and English are the languages used in the diocesan territory.
The diocese of Calicut had been spread out to an area of 13,051 square kilometers in two revenue districts of Kerala namely Kannur and Kasargode. Bishop Maxwell Noronha in consultation with the faithful and clergy requested the Holy See to establish the new diocese of Kannur.
Pope John Paul II created the diocese of Kannur by bifurcating Calicut diocese. In 1999, Dr. Varghese Chakkalakal was elected bishop of Kannur and was consecrated on Feb. 7, 1999.
The erection of the diocese was a historical event for Kannur which has 500 years of Christian tradition. Christian communities existed in South Kerala from the beginning of Christianity but in North Kerala, known as Malabar, evangelization started in 16th century with the advent of European missionaries. Several Portuguese colonies were formed in the 16th century along the coastal belt of the Arabian Sea. A church was built by Dominge Rodrigues in Tellicherry. When the British East India Company established the Tellicherry Fort in 1708, the Jesuit Fathers renovated this church.
In 1736 Father Dominic OCD established a church in Mahe to take care of the spiritual needs of the French Catholics settled here. In 1878 when the South Canara and Malabar region handed over to the Jesuits of the Venice Province, the evangelization of this region took a new turn. In 1923 some parts of Malabar which belonged to the diocese of Mangalore were bifurcated and the new diocese of Calicut was formed. There were about 6,000 Catholics and 16 priests in Calicut, Tellicherry, Kannur, Vythiri and Mananthavady. The diocese of Calicut made giant strides under the leadership of the prelates Paul Perini, Leo Proserpio, Aldo Maria Ptroni and Maxwell Noronha.
Under the patronage of bishop Leo Proserpio, Father Peter Caironi SJ started his mission among the outcaste in Kannur. This was known as Chirakal Mission. Fathers John Sequeira, Joseph Taffrel SJ, James Monthanari SJ, Aloysius Del Zotto SJ, Michael Vendramin SJ and Father Linus Zucol SJ had strived hard to evangelize this mission region. With the selfless service of the missioners, this region has developed into a Catholic stronghold. This mission was under the Calicut diocese until the diocese of Kannur was formed.
The territory is well connected with roads and rails. Thalassery railway station is one of the major railway stations in Kerala. The nearest airport is at Kozhikode, about 93 kilometers away from the city.
The Kannur and Kasargod districts have pleasant climate. South-western monsoons lash the region from June to September and the north-eastern monsoon extends from October to November. The winter season is from December to February. The temperature reaches the maximum in May. The average annual rainfall is 3,438 mm.
The economy of Kannur diocese is mainly based on agriculture. Rubber, coconut and pepper are the main cash. Though this region is industrially backward, handloom/textile is a major industry.
The level of telecommunications infrastructure is average. Almost everyone has a mobile phone in town areas. Most of the homes have television, telephone and internet. In rural areas access to modern communication is very limited. There are no television broadcasting stations but there are a number of private FM stations and government run AM and FM stations in the diocesan territory.