It is believed that Saint Thomas, one of the Apostles, came to India in 52 A.D. Out of the seven and a half churches established by the saint, the district of Kanyakumari has the privilege of having had the "half" church at Thiruvithamcode.
There was Christian community in Kanyakumari right from the beginning of the 1st century.
In Marthandom diocese, the population was 2,224,000 at end of 2016. Most residents are Tamils and Malayalees.
Tamil, Malayalam and English are used in the diocese.
In the 16th century, Portuguese missioners arrived in Kanyakumari and the Christian community began to grow. Later, during the British regime in India, Protestant missioners started their work among the people of Kanyakumari.
On Sept. 30, 1930, Metropolitan Mar Ivanios, reunited with the Catholic Church and paved the way for the Malankara Church to enter the Catholic communion. On June 11, 1932, by the Apostolic Constitution Christo Pastorum Principe, Pope Pius XI established the Syro-Malankara Catholic hierarchy, comprising the archdiocese of Trivandrum and the diocese of Tiruvalla.
Mar Ivanios, the pioneer of the “reunion movement extended his mission work to Kanyakumari district with Marthandaom as its center in 1934.
With the dedicated service of the priests and the religious from various dioceses and congregations, many parishes and stations of the Malankara Church could be established in the district of Kanyakumari.
Considering the linguistic, social and cultural heritage of the people of this region and the vast area of the metropolitan eparchy of Trivandrum, Pope John Paul II bifurcated the metropolitan eparchy and erected the eparchy of Marthandam having its headquarters at Marthandom. Thus the fourth diocese of the Malankara Catholic Church came into existence and Reverend Lawrence Mar Ephraem took charge as its first bishop.
His installation took place on Jan. 23, 1997, at the Christuraja Cathedral, Marthandom.
After a prolonged illness, Bishop Ephraem died on April 8, 1997.
On April 16, 1998, Pope John Paul ll appointed Reverend Yoohanon Mar Chrysostom as the second bishop of the eparchy. He was consecrated on June 29, 1998.
Towns are governed by municipalities, whereas villages and small towns are administered by local bodies called panchayats. The members of the local bodies are elected by adult suffrage.
The diocesan area is well-connected by roads and railway. The nearest airport is in Thiruvanathapuram, the capital city of the neighbouring state of Kerala.
The diocese stretches over a land area of 1,665 square kilometres and covers Kanyakumari, the southern-most district in India. Nagercoil, the district headquarters, is the largest town in the diocese. Kanyakumari, Marthandom, Thuckalay and Kuzhithurai are other towns.
The per capita income in the diocesan territory is Rs 17,591 ($400) as of February 2007. Farming and fishing are the major occupations. Rubber, coconut and jute industries are well-developed in this area. Tourism is one of the major revenue earners for this district and Kanyakumari is a popular tourist and religious destination for many Indians.
Government and private operators provide extensive telecommunication facilities in the diocesan area. The diocese enjoys local cable TV networks.
The literacy rate is 87.55 per cent.