Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of Catholicism in the Philippines

“…500 years have passed since the Christian message first arrived in the Philippines. You received the joy of the Gospel... And this joy is evident in your people … We see it in your eyes, on your faces, in your songs and in your prayers. In the joy with which you bring your faith to other lands …”

~ Pope Francis said in his homily of the Mass at the Vatican on March 14, formally opening the yearlong celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of Catholicism’s arrival in the Philippines.

A country of 7,641 islands at the sea of southeast Asia with a population of 109 million, of which more than 10 million are migrants living in almost 100 countries across the world.

Why the Pope calls Filipinos “smugglers of faith”? What makes the local Church so unique?

What is the Catholic population in the country? How many dioceses, bishops are there?

All you need to know about the Church in the Philippines in one click
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Diocese of Kottapuram

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Diocese of Kottapuram
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The Roman Catholic diocese of Kottapuram is the suffragan of the archdiocese of Verapoly. The diocese of Kottapuram was established by Pope John Paul II on July 3, 1987, from the metropolitan archdiocese of Verapoly. The diocese of Kottapuram was officially inaugurated on Oct. 4, 1987. Bishop Francis Kallarakal was the first bishop of the diocese.

This diocese is located in the city of Kottapuram and spread across the civil districts of Ernakulum, Thrissur, Malappuram and Palakkad in Kerala state and covers an area of 3,000 square kilometers. The diocese is headquartered at Kottapuram, near the ancient city of Cranganore (the anglicized name of Kodungallur).

This place owes its name to a fort constructed by the Portuguese in 1503. Kodungallur/Cranganore was a famous seaport of the east since ancient times. To the Greeks and Romans, Cranganore was known as Muziris. It was one of the thriving earliest Christian settlements of Malabar.

According to tradition, St. Thomas the apostle landed and preached the Gospel here in 52 AD. He established a Church which is believed to be the first Christian church in India. Since then it was a prominent Christian centre. The existence of a thriving Christian community attracted the attention of the bishops from Persia who chose this place as the center of their activities. By the middle of 14th century, the fame of the seaport faded into oblivion.


Malayalam, English and Konkani are spoken in the diocesan territory.


This area is well connected with roads. The nearest railway station is Irinjalakuda which is about 15 kilometers away. The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport which is about 38 kilometers away.


The diocesan territory has a pleasant climate. Humid and oppressively hot from March to May. South-western monsoon lashes 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 maximum temperature is in May and comes up to 35 degress Celsius. The average annual rainfall is 310 cm.


The economy of Kottapuram diocese is mainly based on agriculture and fisheries. Power loom textile, tile, timber and coir are the major industries here.


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 limited.


Literacy rate in the diocesan territory is 92.56 percent, higher than the national average of 59.5 percent.

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