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Diocese of Mangalore

Description: The Diocese of Mangalore embraces the entire District of Dakshina Kannada and Kasargod Taluk. It is bounded on the north by the Diocese of Udupi on the south by the Diocese of Kannur, on the east by the Diocese of Chikmagalur, Shimoga and Mysore and on the west by the Arabian Sea. The total area of extent is 5924.26 sq. km.


The earliest record of the introduction of Christianity into this region refers to the close of the XV century, whether Christianity was introduced here prior to that period, we are without date to go by. If conjectures and inferences may avail aught, it may not be improbable that some knowledge of Christianity was brought to this region as early as the first century of the Christian Era. The Syro-Malabar Christians maintain that Christianity was preached to them in the first century, and it is probable that this knowledge was not restricted exclusively to their own coast, but that it did penetrate into the northern seaboard as well. However that may be, it is certain that Christianity was preached on this coast towards the end of the XV century. For evidence is not wanting to show that between the years 1498 and 1505 several priests, Fransciscans and of the Order of Our Lady of Mercy, worked in Cannanore and Calicut, at which latter place not a few even laid down their lives for Christ and His religion, at the hands of the pagan inhabitants.

By the beginning of the XVI century the Portuguese succeeded in opening settlements in Kanara, and with these settlements there came also Missionaries into the country. In 1510 Albuquerque conquered Goa, and this made it easy for the Portuguese to send reinforcements of Missionaries to the existing stations in Kanara, and also to advance the work of evangelization. To these settlements, several local Christians from Goa migrated. The local rulers were only too glad to welcome them as permanent settlers, as they were known to be good and industrious cultivators. By the middle of the XVI century we already find a sufficiently large community of Christians from Goa at a place known as Barcelore, four miles from Coondapoor. In 1526 a band of Fransciscan Missionaries opened a mission in Mangalore, and in 1570 Fr Vincent, who was at the time the Provincial of the Jesuits in Goa, sent thither a fresh batch of Missionaries.

The Archbishop of Goa exercised his jurisdiction over the coast at this time. On 3 December, 1609, Pope Paul V extended his jurisdiction along the coast as far as Dharmattam.

The dawn of the XVII century saw the Portuguese influence in India on the wane. The English and the Dutch were engaged in continual strife for supremacy in India. The Marattas, availing themselves of the disturbed conditions, carried on untrammeled and unchecked their policy of plunder and rapine. Life became unsafe, and property insecure. The mission lost the support of the civil power, and several of the Missionaries were recalled to Goa. Deprived of Missionaries, the country soon fell into a state of spiritual destitution. To make matters worse, the Archiepiscopal See of Goa fell vacant and remained so for nearly twenty years. Father Andrew Gomez, an Indian priest, was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Kanara, but he died before the Bull of his nomination reached him, and things remained as they were.

In 1674 on the representation of the Carmelite Missionaries of Verapoly, the Holy See appointed Father Thomas de Castro, a Theatine Indian Priest, Vicar Apostolic of Kanara and Malabar. When he landed in Mangalore he began to reside at Hampankatta in the plot were Milagres Church stands. He resided in a small house where a small Church was existing. He began to establish the Roman Jurisdiction in Kanara which extended up to the present District of Karwar in the north and Calicut Diocese in the south. In 1681, when Msgr Thomas de Castro was Vicar Apostolic of Kanara, Fr Joseph Vaz came to Kanara and worked in it for four years with great apostolic zeal and tact. On the 16th July 1684, Bishop de Castro died, leaving his Vicar General to administer the Vicariate. He was buried in the then existing Milagres Church. In 1700 Vicar General was died. The death of Bishop Thomas Castro and Bishop Manuel De Souza Menezes took place at the same time in 1684. Fr Joseph Vaz availed himself of this golden opportunity to ask Goa to recall him. This was done and the good Priest retired from his difficult post with honour. The dispute that was referred to Rome was ultimately decided in favour of Goa. In 1700 all jurisdiction of Bishop Castro ceased and Canara was wholly under Goa.

The work of Fr Joseph Vaz in Canara is quite a sealed book yet. He was possibly the greatest missionary that worked in Canara. Though hampered on all sides over the issue of jurisdiction, he had time to convert heathens, ransom captives, reconcile enemies, settle family disputes, relieve indigent and attend to the sick whether Christian or heathen. It was thus he endeared himself to all. He found the Rosario Church at Poye - a structure covered with grass and palm. He built a Church at Barcelore and another at Gangolli where there were largest number of Catholics. Throughout Canara he erected a large number of irmidas where periodically he celebrated festive occasions to keep alive and animate the true faith.

The period from 1784 to 1799 forms a sad page in the history of the Christians of Kanara. On 30th January 1784, the English Commander surrendered to the forces of Tippu Sultan, enraged as he was against the Christians, gave secret orders to his Commanders to seize every one of the Christians in the country and lead them captive to his capital. It was on the fateful night of Ash Wednesday, February 24th, 1784 that the cruel orders were carried out, and several thousands of the Christians from all over the country, presumably the great majority of them, were led captive to Seringapatam. The history of their captivity is sad and gloomy. It may well be compared to the Egyptian bondage. Large numbers of them succumbed to the hard treatment given them, and larger still to the fell diseases so very common in all ill-kept, ill-fed and ill-cared for camps of prisoners. The survivors were driven at the point of the sword forcibly to undergo the Islamic rite. In 1799 Seringapatam capitulated to the English; and with this ended the captivity of our Christians.

Portugal was now distracted by internal troubles which produced a state of confusion also in the Missions of Kanara. This state of affairs lasted till 1838, when Pope Gregory XVI authorized the Vicar Apostolic of Verapoly to exercise jurisdiction over Kanara. This arrangement, however, did not fully meet with the desired effect, and factions continued still.

In 1840 the Catholics of Mangalore sent up a Memorial to the Holy See, in which they urged that Kanara should be constituted into a separate and independent Vicariate, as that was the only way of bringing peace to Kanara. After a lapse of five years, on 12th May 1845, the Holy See in answer to the Memorial appointed Bishop Bernardine of St Agnes, a Carmelite, Pro-Vicar Apostolic of Mangalore, with jurisdiction over Kanara and North Malabar as far as the Ponnani River, and also over Coorg and that portion of the Nagar division lying west of the Tungabadra River. Though constituted into a Pro-Vicariate, was still continued to be part of the Vicariate of Verapoly.

In 1850 Coorg and the part of the Nagar division were ceded to the Fathers of the Society of foreign Missions, Paris.

In 1852 Bishop Bernardine left Mangalore for Rome, and on 15th March 1853 Kanara was entirely separated from Verapoly and formed into a Vicariate with Bishop Michael Antony of St Louis, a Carmelite, as Vicar Apostolic.

In 1863 an attempt was made at a settlement between the jurisdictions of the Archbishop of Goa and of the Vicar Apostolic of Kanara. A Commission composed of representatives of the Holy See and the King of Portugal settled the question of boundaries between Goa and Kanara. By this arrangement the whole of North Kanara with the exception of a few parishes was given to the Vicariate of Mangalore, and to Goa were assigned a few parishes in South Kanara.

In 1870 Bishop Michael Antony resigned his charge and was succeeded on 3rd January of the same year by Bishop Mary Ephrem who governed and Vicariate up to 10th April 1873. On his death, Father Paul Joseph Vidal of the Sacred Heart of Jesus became Pro-Administrator of the Vicariate.

On 24th March 1876, the Vicariate was placed once again under Verapoly and Father Victor of St Antony was appointed Pro-Administrator Apostolic.

The unsettled condition which had seriously hampered the spiritual and temporal well-being of the region happily ended on 27th September 1879 when the Holy See freed Kanara from inter-dependence on the neighbouring rule and assigned it to the care of the Jesuit Province of Venice. Father Nicholas Maria Pagani, SJ was appointed Pro-Vicar Apostolic of Kanara. On 21st February 1885, Kanara was erected into a Vicariate and its Pro-Vicar raised to the dignity of Bishop of Tricomium and Vicar Apostolic of Kanara. Bishop Nicholas Pagani was consecrated in Mangalore on 25th October 1885. A year later, on 23rd June 1886, the settlement of boundaries between Goa and Mangalore arrived at in the Commission of March 5th 1863 was revised, Mangalore parting with the whole of North Kanara in favour of Goa, and the latter ceding to Mangalore its eleven parishes in South Kanara. By this arrangement the Mangalore Mission was freed from the evils of double jurisdiction and became a compact homogeneous unit.

On 1st September 1886, Pope Leo XIII established the Indian Hierarchy, and it was officially proclaimed in a Council of the Bishops of Southern India, held in Bangalore on 25th January 1887. In virtue of this Hierarchy, Mangalore ceased to be a Vicariate and took its place on the Indian Hierarchy was the Diocese of Mangalore, and its Vicar Apostolic became Bishop of Mangalore.

Bishop Pagani died on April 30th 1895, after a strenuous life of seventeen years spent for the Diocese. It was in his time and under his care that the foundation was laid of the great Institutions: St Aloysius College, St Joseph’s Asylum at Jeppu, Father Muller Charitable Institutions at Kankanady, the Codialbail Printing Press and the Roman Catholic Provident Fund.

On 2nd December 1895 Msgr Abundius Cavadini, SJ, succeeded to the See of Mangalore. He was consecrated on June 28, 1896 at Bergramo, in Italy. St Pope John XIII was the altar boy at the consecration of Bishop Cavadini. He administered the Diocese for well-nigh fifteen years during which time the progress set on foot grew apace. He died on 26th March 1910, and on 17th August of the same year Msgr Paul Perini, SJ was appointed his successor.

Msgr Paul Perini, SJ, was consecrated in Mangalore on December 4, 1910. Thirteen years of his government saw many developments. The Seminary which so far had been engaged principally in training clerics for the Diocese now threw open its doors to other Dioceses, with the result that today there are in it nearly three hundred students hailing from many Dioceses and Religious Congregations. Several Missionary Stations with resident priests were opened with a view to lead back the erring schismatics to the bosom of the Church and to preach the Gospel to the heathen. Extensive parishes were divided and new ones created, thus giving Catholics greater facilities. Elementary education was much encouraged and supported and, not the least of all, an Association was formed for the benefit of the laity in order to train them to social work among their own. It is not too much to say that there never was an enterprise, whether lay or clerical, public or private, but was sincerely encouraged and heartily supported by him. His services to the Diocese were graciously acknowledged by the Holy Father Pope Pius XI who was pleased to confer upon him the title of Assistant at the Pontifical Throne, Domestic Prelate and Count of the Holy Roman Church.

By an Apostolic Brief “Cum auctus fidelium grex” 12th June 1923, the Diocese of Mangalore was divided by separating from it the District of Malabar which was formed into a new Diocese called the Diocese of Calicut, and Msgr Paul Perini, SJ, was appointed its first Bishop.

By this arrangement the now restricted Diocese of Mangalore was entrusted to its own Clergy, and Fr Joseph L. Pais, was nominated Titular Bishop of Isaura and Administrator Apostolic of Mangalore. At that time Fr Pais was the parish priest of Kinnigoli Church. He however, declined to accept the appointment, and consequently the See remained vacant, on 13th October 1923 the Holy See appointed Msgr Paul Perini, SJ, Bishop of Calicut, Administrator Apostolic of the Diocese of Mangalore.

In 14th January 1928 the Holy See nominated the Rev. Fr Valerian J. D’Souza, a member of the local clergy, Bishop of Mangalore. He was the Secretary of the Bishop and Chancellor of the Diocese of Mangalore. In the absence of Bishop Perini Fr Valerian J. D’ Souza assisted in the administration of the Diocese. He took charge of the Diocese on 11th March 1928.

Msgr D’Souza was consecrated on 15th April, 1928 in the Cathedral Church of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, by Msgr Paul Perini, SJ, Bishop of Calicut assisted by Msgr J. Faisandier, SJ, Bishop of Trichinopoly and Msgr F.T. Roche, SJ, Bishop of Tuticorin.

Bishop Valerian J. D’ Souza, was born in Karwar as his parents were residing there due to government employment. He was brought up and educated in Mangalore. They belonged to Milagres parish. Due to his unfailing health, on his way to Rome he visited his sister’s family in Ireland. His brother-in-law Dr Abriao conducted a surgery on him for appendicitis during which he passed away. Due to his death the See became vacant and the Diocesan consultors elected the then procurator Rev. Fr Victor Rosario Fernandes, Vicar Capitular who later on became the Bishop of Mangalore.

The progress of the Diocese took place in leaps and bounds. Before 1953, the priests from Mangalore (Konkani origin) were working side by side the Jesuits as Missionaries in Malabar. Even after the bifurcation of the Diocese in 1923 several priests from Mangalore stayed back to work in mountainous region of Malabar. The vocations from Mangalore joined Calicut Diocese to carry on the missionary work at this time onwards and specially in 1950, there were heavy migrations from Travancore to Malabar. They belonged to Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara rites apart from Marthoma and Orthodox. The migration took place in the remote corners and ghat sections of Dakshina Kannada (South Kanara). The priests in the Diocese of Calicut and Mangalore took care of all the Christians who migrated to this region. Today from the undivided Diocese of Mangalore the following Dioceses took birth. Karwar (North Kanara), Calicut (Malabar), Thalassery, Manandavady, Thamarassery, Belthangady, Bethery, Puttur, Kannur (Latin) and Udupi. In all these Dioceses the missionary priests had catered to the pastoral and spiritual needs of the migrants.

When these Dioceses came into existence the sons and daughters of Diocese of Mangalore went as missionaries to several Dioceses in Tamil Nadu, specially under Madurai mission and Padraodo regions. When those Dioceses became self reliant, missionaries from Mangalore went to almost all the Diocese of North India.


In all, the Diocese of Mangalore (and Udupi) has given 45 Bishops beginning from the first the appointment of a Mangalorean Bishop Msgr Valerian J. D’Souza.

In the year 2012, on 16 July the Holy See bifurcated the Diocese of Mangalore into Udupi Diocese, appointing Bishop Gerald Isaac Lobo as its first Bishop. This new Diocese took away 48 parishes and 68 priests from the Mother Diocese, Mangalore. At the time of division Mangalore Diocese had 113 parishes with 265 priests.

In the year 1981 the Diocese of Mangalore took up missionary adventures. In the North took up Bidar Mission, in the northern most part of Karnataka. From Zero number Christians, there was steady growth of Christians which later on made a way for a new Diocese called Gulbarga. In the initial stages all the missionary priests and religious sisters were from the Diocese of Mangalore. The faithful of the Diocese of Mangalore supported the mission whole heartedly. From the clergy of the Diocese of Mangalore. Msgr Robert Miranda was appointed as first Bishop of Gulbarga.

In 2012, the Diocese of Mangalore celebrated its Post-Centenary Silver Jubilee and among its projects it decided to venture into a missionary enterprise outside India, as over one thousand priests and nuns are working in India alone, a request came from the Bishop of Same Bishop Rogatus Kimaryo, C.S.Sp in Tanzania, Africa. The clergy and the faithful took up this request as call from God for evangelization and in the year 2013 four missionaries went to Same and the mission was inaugurated on 21.07.2013 by His Lordship Most Rev. Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza. The Inauguration was historic, Bishops of Tanzania and the Bishop of Mangalore with several priests, religious and over thousand natives participated in the inauguration. First Church given to the Mangalore Africa Mission was blessed by the Bishop of Mangalore and dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of Mary.


Christianity in Kanara:

The Christianity took its roots in Kanara from the missionaries who came over to Mangalore as early as 60 A.D.

In 1500 a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary was built in the fort San Sabastiao in Bengare (Bengre) in between the river Phalguni and the sea near Rosario Church. The historians recorded three Churches - Rosario at Bolar, Our Lady of Mercy at Ullal and St Francis Assisi at Arkula (Farangipet). This supports the assumption that Christians were found in Konkan coast before the advent of Portuguese. Later on heavy migrations from Goa increased the Christian population in Kanara.

The region came under the Archdiocese of Goa. Later under Verapoly, sometimes under Pondicherry again Verapoly, Goa and at the appointment of the first Bishop of Mangalore it was under the Metropolitan of Bombay. Now it is under the Metropolitan of Bangalore.

The Catholic population of Mangalore is 2,58,421. The Diocesan clergy is 276. There are 100 Religious Priests and 1300 Religious Sisters in the service of the Diocese. There are 43 students in Philosophy and Theology sections & 3 in Regency. The Konkanni community of Mangalore, so far has given 45 Bishops to the various dioceses in India and one in Pakistan. Now the Diocese consists of one Revenue district and two taluks of Kasargod of Kerala State. The Diocese has variety of  educational institutions. The contribution of the Religious Orders and Congregations in the growth of the Diocese has been conspicuous. The Diocese has been a nursery of vocations. Four Congregations for women have emerged from the Diocese of Mangalore. The Apostolic Carmel, though the Foundress prepared and sent 3 Sisters to Mangalore all the members have been from Mangalore in the beginnings.

One of the first beginner members by name Sr Marium Bavardi became a Saint. The Foundress of the Apostolic Carmel is declared Venerable and the Founder of the Bethany Congregation is raised to the ranks of the Servant of God. Fr Joseph Vas, once a missionary in Canara and Mangalore proper has become a Saint. This explains itself the depth of faith of the Christians in the Diocese of Mangalore.

(As per 2016 update)


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