The Archdiocese of Lahore is a major Catholic Church territory in Punjab province and the oldest diocese in the country.
Punjabi is the main language spoken. But a sizeable number of people speaks Urdu and English.
The first Roman Catholic chapel was constructed in Lahore in 1597 during Mughal Emperor Akbar. On the account of the letters received at Goa Christian Society by the Priests of Jesuit Christian Missions in 1595, Emperor Akbar had promised Jesuit Christian Priests the erection of the church.
Following the Emperor's invitation, three separate Christian Jesuit Missions were sent off to Lahore by the Goa authorities. The first mission comprising of three Christian priests stayed for three years till 1583 at the Court of Akbar. In 1592, on Emperor's urgent request, the second mission was sent which remained at Akbar's court for two years. The last mission arrived in Lahore in 1595 and became a permanent institution.
However, churches only began to be established in Lahore after advent of the British in 1840. The Catholic population of Lahore at that time was composed of the Europeans, mostly Portuguese, and the Armenians. They were mostly chaplains, members of the East India company and British soldiers. Portuguese at that time had occupied three colonies on the sub continent, including Goa.
Lahore was erected as the Vicariate Apostolic of Punjab in 1880 from Apostolic Vicariate of Agra. Belgian Capuchin prelates headed Lahore diocese from its erection in 1886 until 1975.
Often called "grandmother diocese" for the entire Punjab province, its boundaries underwent several changes during the later years thus giving birth to Islamabad Rawalpindi diocese and Multan diocese. The diocese of Faisalabad was created from Multan diocese.
On April 23, 1994, Lahore became an Archdiocese. Lahore is also Pakistan's second-largest city. Often referred to as the cultural heart of the country, it is the center of Pakistani arts, films and intelligentsia.
The territory is under an atypical version of a humid subtropical climate with long and extremely hot summers, dry and relatively mild winters, a monsoon and dust storms. Temperature ranges from 48 degrees Celsius in summer to minus 1 degrees Celsius in winters.
In a land area of around 23,069 square kilometers, the archdiocese covers the districts of Kasur, Sheikhupura, Nankana-Sahib, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Narowal and Hafizabad.
Gonsalo's martyrdom at Nagasaki with the other Christian missionaries is regarded as the most tragic and historic event for Catholicism in Japan
Calungsod and his companion Father Vitores baptized infants, children and adults, defying the risk of persecution and murder
Despite being an ordinary layman, Ruiz remained defiant while facing torture by the Japanese and died a brave martyr
He was the first Korean-born Catholic priest and is now the patron saint of Korea
This fabled church is also known by its Syriac name Mar Sleeva (Holy Cross) Church
Asian Catholics who cannot visit famous Our Lady of Lourdes shrine in France can revere miraculous Mother Mary at Velankanni shrine in India. The Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health is popularly known as “the Lourdes of the East” and holds the largest Catholic Church in Asia.
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.
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.
The shrine holds a three-meter-tall, white-stone carved statue Virgin Mary on the Tao Pao Mountain in the Diocese of Phan Thiet in southern Vietnam, about 1,600 kilometers from the national capital Hanoi.
The Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Urakami of Nagasaki is a witness of persecution of Christians from 17th to 19th centuries and deadly atomic bombing during the Second World War. This European-style, red-brick church continues to preserve some relics that survived the atomic bombing. Urakami cathedral, also known as St. Mary’s Cathedral, was almost destroyed when the atomic bomb was dropped on Aug. 9, 1945. The church stood about 500 meters from the hypocenter of atomic explosion. The devastation shattered and charred stone-made statues of saints, which were later preserved as relics along with the surviving head of Virgin Mary statue and one of the church’s original bells.
Our Lady of Akita Catholic Church is Yuzawadai is among the most famous churches in Japan. The church shot into global fame thanks to a wooden statue of Blessed Virgin Mary that wept 101 times and Marian apparitions to Japanese nun Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa that miraculously healed her hearing impairment. Japanese wooden sculptor Saburo Wakasa from Akita city carved the now-famous miraculous statue of Virgin Mary in 1963.
The Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in Seria is a small church on the western Belait district of Brunei, but it shot into fame thanks to the nation’s most famous Catholic – late Cardinal Cornelius Sim. It is also the second of three churches in Brunei dedicated to Virgin Mary. In fact, Mary has a prominent place not only in Christianity, but also in Islam, the dominant faith in Brunei. Holy Quran mentions Mary seventy times and reveres her as the greatest woman to have ever lived.