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Archdiocese of Verapoly

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Archdiocese of Verapoly
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The archdiocese of Verapoly belongs to Latin rite. It lies in the civil districts of Ernakulam and Thrissur of Kerala which covers an area of 1,500 square kilometers. Since 1904, it has its headquarters in Ernakulam, in the corporation of Cochin. The patron of the archdiocese is St. Joseph. The suffragan dioceses of Verapoly Archdiocese include Calicut, Cochin, Kannur, Kottapuram and Vijayapuram.


The Coporation of Cochin, according 2001 Census, has a catholic population of 260,000 and 88 percent of them belong to Latin Rite, more than half belong to the archdiocese of Verapoly.

The total population of the diocesan territory is 2.804,307 (as per the census of 2001). Almost all major religions, including Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism are practiced here. The major religion is Hinduism.


Malayalam, English, Hindi and Tamil are in use in the territory.


The archdiocese was originally known as the vicariate of Malabar. The conquest of Cochin by the Dutch made the smooth administration of Cochin diocese difficult. Bishops who were consecrated could not reach there. As result of these, the rebellions and schisms erupted among the faithful. Being informed of the situation by Father Sebastiani, a Carmelite Missionary, the pope decided to entrust the Carmelites with the spiritual care of the Syro-Chaldaic Rite. For this purpose the vicariate of Malabar was erected by Pope Alexander VII on the Dec. 3, 1659.

In 1659, Father Sebastiani was consecrated titular bishop of Hierapolis and sent back to Malabar with the title of vicar apostolic and the administrator of the Archbishopric of Cranganore. The new vicariate established its headquarters on the island of Verapoly.

The conquest of Portuguese territories in Malabar and Cochin in 1663 by the Dutch and the expulsion of Catholic Missionaries from their territories threatened the existence of the vicariate of Verapoly. But the Church survived under the Indian prelate Parambil Chandy (Alexander De Compo) whom Bishop Sebastiani had consecrated as his successor before his departure in 1663. Later Carmelites were permitted to resume their ministry which was also extended to the Catholics of the Latin Rite who were under Portuguese protection and following Portuguese Catholic tradition.

In 1709, the vicariate of Malabar was changed into the vicariate of Verapoly and Bishop Angelo Francisco took over as its first vicar apostolic. In 1838, the diocese of Cochin was annexed to the vicariate of Verapoly. From 1838 and 1886, the diocese of Cochin was governed by the vicar apostolic of Verapoly.

On Sept. 1, 1886, Pope Leo XIII raised the vicariate of Verapoly to the status of an archdiocese with Father Leonard Mellano of St. Louis as archbishop of the new ecclesiastical territory.

In 1886, the diocese of Cochin was reconstituted with 34 churches taken from the archdiocese of Verapoly and the diocese of Quilon. In 1886, the Catholics of the Syrian Rite were separated from the Latin Rite and placed under Dr. Marceline Bernard of St. Theresa OCD, who was the co-adjutor to archbishop Mellano. The Syrian Catholics were exempted from the jurisdiction of the archdiocese of Verapoly and Kottayam and Trichur vicariates were erected. As a result, the archdiocese of Verapoly become exclusively for Latin Catholics.

Archbishop Bernard Arguinzons transferred the diocesan headquarters from the island of Verapoly to Ernakulam in 1904 to be in the midst of its flock. The archdiocese came under the administration of Indian clergy when Father Joseph Attipetty was appointed co-adjutor Archbishop to Dr. Angel Mary OCD, the last European prelate to the Verapoly archdiocese, and took charge of the diocese in 1934.

Ernakulam was the capital of the erstwhile Cochin state and now it has become part of the Corporation of Cochin. Within the coporation limits, the archdiocese of Verapoly, diocese of Cochin and the archdiocese of Ernakulam of the Syrian Rite have their headquarters.


The territory is well connected with roads and rail. The nearest airport is just 25 kilometers away from the city.


The diocesan territory has moderately hot and humid climate. The rainy season -- southwest monsoon -- begins in June and lasts until September. The northwest monsoon brings light rainfall in October-December. December to February is comparatively cooler. The average annual rainfall is about 3,500 mm. During the summer, the temperature hits maximum 35ºC.


Ernakulam is the industrial nerve center of Kerala. Since time immemorial it was a renowned commercial and trade center. Today it is a bustling industrial hub. Trading, fishing, heavy industry and information technology thrive here.


The level of telecommunications infrastructure is very high. Almost everyone has a mobile phone. Most of the homes have television, and internet. There are six television stations. More than a dozen newspapers are published from here. Five FM radio stations and a private satellite radio are also broadcasted from here.


Literacy rate in the diocesan territory is 94.3 percent, higher than the national average of 59.5 percent.


The Archdiocese of Verapoly lies in the civil districts of Ernakulam and Thrissur of Kerala.


Cochin City, where the diocesan headquarters is located, is administered by a corporation, headed by a Mayor. The city is divided into 70 wards for administrative purposes and members of the corporation council are elected from the wards.

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