The old diocese of Mylapore was erected by Pope Paul V on Jan. 9, 1606. The vicariate apostolic of Madras was created on July 4, 1832, and confirmed on April 25, 1834 which was raised to an archepiscopal See on Sept. 1, 1886. The diocese of Mylapore from the very beginning was under the Portuguese missionaries and in 1950 it was passed over to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith.
On Jan. 13, 1952, a portion of the archdiocese of Madras and diocese of Mylapore were dismembered. From the western portion of the archdiocese of Madras, the diocese of Vellore was created. The extreme southern portion of the diocese of Mylapore was made the diocese of Thanjavur. From the remaining portions, a new archdiocese was created on Nov. 14, 1952, to be known as the archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore.
The archdiocesan territory covers a land area of 3,160 square kilometres and includes the city of Chennai (formerly called Madras) and the civil district of Thiruvallur.
The area has a population of 6,984,614, according to the government census in 2004.
Ethnic groups in the territory include Anglo-Indians, Gujarathis, Malayalees, Marwaris, and Telugus. Most of the people speak Tamil. English, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi are also used.
The old diocese of Mylapore was erected by Pope Paul V on Jan. 9, 1606, by an agreement between the Holy Father and the King of Portugal. By virtue of this arrangement which was known as "Padroado," the King of Portugal was vested with special powers to appoint bishops and priests in specified areas and to support them financially in their work of evangelization. The padroado system and the arrangement suffered due to the civil disturbance and transfer of power in Portugal and was finally cancelled by the Holy Father in 1950.
The diocese of Mylapore then came under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith from Oct. 10, 1950. The last padroado bishop of Mylapore Bishop Dom MM Guerreiro was transferred on March 2, 1951, to the See of Nampula in Mozambique in Portuguese East Africa. On Bishop Guerreiro's transfer, his vicar general, Monsignor Francis Arthur Carvalho, was appointed, by the congregation as apostolic administrator of the diocese of Mylapore, a post which he held until the creation of the archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore.
The Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore functions in the capital city of Chennai (Madras). On Nov. 14, 1952, Father Louis Mathias, SDB, was nominated as the first archbishop of Madras- Mylapore. He was enthroned on Nov. 29 of the same year in the Santhome Cathedral Basilica which was officially made as Cathedral of the new Archdiocese, while St Mary's Cathedral was made Co-Cathedral.
According to tradition, St. Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, walked on the sands of Mylapore and preached the Gospel to the people who embraced Christianity.
He was martyred on St. Thomas Mount, near Mylapore in the year 72 AD and his mortal remains were buried in Santhome in the church which was built by him.
The per capita income in the archdiocesan territory is Rs 27,050 ($611) per annum. The territory has petrochemical, automobile, dairy, fishing, textiles, agriculture, and information technology industries. Chennai city has a major port facility.
The local literacy rate is 81.14 percent.
This fabled church is also known by its Syriac name Mar Sleeva (Holy Cross) Church
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