Da Lat was known and gradually developed into a place for relaxation since French Doctor Alexandre Yersin who led a group of peope including Father Robert, a missionary for the Indochina, discovered the land of Lang Biang in 1893.
In 1917, Father Nicolas Couvreur, a missionary for the Far-east, arrived in Da Lat and built a presbyteral sanatorium, that presently stands in the compound of the Mary of God Cathedral. In 1918, Bishop Lucien Mossard, apostolic administrator of Sai Gon diocese, arrived in Da Lat and started to evangelize local people.
The diocese was established on Nov. 24, 1960 by Pope John XXIII. Bishop Simon Hoa Nguyen Van Hien was the first bishop of the diocese.
During the 1955-1973, the Catholic College, Pius X Pontifical Institute and Minh Hoa Seminary were founded. Many Religious congregations for men and for women and evangelization centers for ethnic minorities were also established. Many of them were confiscated by the government after the country's reunification in 1975.
As of Dec. 31, 2016, the diocese had 372,853 baptized Catholics out of a population of 1,365,000 including 91,250 ethnic-minority people. The diocese is a suffragan of the Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese.
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Da Lat city is well-known as a dreamy and romantic place with its coldness in evening, fog at dawn and surrounding ranges of pine forests. The city producing many kinds of flowers draws many tourists each year. Besides many beautiful landscapes such as Buddhist pagodas, waterfalls, lakes. Da Lat is also famous for its Catholic churches such as the Cathedral (built from 1931-1942), the French architectural church of Domain de Marie, the Vietnamese traditional architectural church of Du Sinh, Cam Ly church (built from 1960-1968) with traditional architecture of ethnic minority groups.
Diocesan website: www.simonhoadalat.com
Being in a plateau and surrounded by pine forests, the climate of Da Lat is like that of a temperate zone with the average temperature of 18-21 degrees Celsius, never over 32° C and below 5° C.
Da Lat has two distinguishable seasons: the rainy from May to October and the dry from November to April with the average rainfall of 1,562 millimeters per year and humidity of 82%. Especially, Da Lat has never been hit by a storm. There are only strong winds from the sea resulting from storms in other regions.
Recently, the temperature of Da Lat has increased considerably due to urbanization and illegal forest exploitation.
The diocese with a land area of 9,764.79 square kilometers comprises the whole province of Lam Dong at an elevation of 1,500 meters in the highlands. Da Lat is its capital and well-known tourist city.
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.