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.
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.