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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 Hanzhong

Bishop Bartholomew Chengti Yu
Bishop  Bartholomew Chengti Yu
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Bishop Bartholomew Chengti Yu
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Bishop Bartholomew Yu Chengti of Hanzhong died on Sept. 14, 2009 at the age of 90. The elderly Vatican-approved bishop had ministered in the "underground" Church community since he was clandestinely ordained a bishop in 1981. He retired in 2003. The Chinese government recognized him only as a priest, and local officials expressed "grave concern" over the funeral, but the diocese insisted on honoring him as a bishop. In the end, officials ordered that each parish send only a few representatives, and did not allow the diocese to publicize the obituary nor invite guests from outside Hanzhong.

Born in 1919, Bishop Yu entered the seminary when he was 17. He was ordained a priest in October 1949, the same year the Communists founded the People's Republic of China. He was imprisoned when the Church faced political turmoil in the 1950s but was released on parole after a few years due to illness.

He returned to the diocese and served in Chenggu county as religious activities gradually revived after the Cultural Revolution (1966-76).

The bishop lived under government surveillance and faced official pressure even after his retirement. He died in 2009.
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