Explore South Asia's ancient dioceses

Cardinal Cheong

The cathedral of the first diocese in India.

St. Thomas the Apostle, who is believed to have arrived on Kerala’s Malabar Coast in 52 AD, is considered the father of the Catholic faith in India.

Christian communities developed and expanded further when European missionaries arrived in the 13th and 14th centuries.

The history of a few ancient dioceses in Asia can be dated back to 13th century pre-Portuguese mission expeditions.

Find out the oldest diocese in India here.

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Diocese of Varanasi

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Diocese of Varanasi
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The diocese of Varanasi was formerly the prefecture of Banaras-Gorakhpur. It was separated from the diocese of Allahabad in 1947 when the Canadian Capuchins took charge of the prefecture. Msgr. Jerome Malenfant OFM Cap, was the prefect apostolic of Banaras-Gorakhpur from 1947 to 1970. In June 1970 prefecture apostolic was merged into the diocese of Varanasi and was given to the diocesan clergy. Father Patrick D'Souza was appointed the first bishop of Varanasi.

With a land area of 21,436 square kilometers, the Varanasi diocesan territory covers civil districts of Varanasi, Azamgarh, Mau, Jaunpur, Ravidasnagar, Chandauli, Ballia and Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh. The dioceses of Gorakhpur (north), Bettiah (north-east), Buxer (east), and Allahabad (west) are the immediate neighbors of the dioceses of Varanasi.

Agriculture is the main occupation in the area. The Gangetinc plain yields paddy, wheat, maize, gram, etc. Weaving of carpet and sari are the major occupation in this area.

Hindi, English, Urdu and Bhojpuri are the main spoken languages in this area.

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