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Home > Catholic Encyclopedia > V > Archdiocese of Verapoly

Archdiocese of Verapoly

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Located on the Malabar Coast, India, having the Diocese of Quilon as suffragan; extends northwards to the River Ponany, southwards to the Rani River, bounded on the east by the Ghaut line and on the west by the Indian Ocean. The Catholic population within the confines of the archdiocese is divided into two parts-those of the Syrian Rite, called Thomas Christians, who are under the personal (and quasi-territorial) jurisdiction of the three Vicars Apostolic of Trichur, Ernakulam, and Changancherry; and those of the Latin Rite, originally converts of the Portuguese missionaries, who are territorially under the jurisdiction of the archbishop. These later form a Catholic population of 75,389, having 31 churches and 25 chapels, served by 25 European Fathers of the Carmelite Order (mostly Spaniards), about 40 native secular priests of the Latin Rite, and of the Syrian Rite. There are besides in monastic enclosure 10 Carmelite Fathers of the First Order and 12 of the Third Order, making a total of about 90 priests. Also 19 Carmelite Nuns of the Third Order, 6 Brothers of St. Teresa, and 15 catechists. Candidates for the priesthood are sent partly to St. Joseph's Central Seminary, Puttenpally, under the direction of the Carmelite Fathers, and partly to Kandy. The archbishop's present residence is at Ernakulam in the Cochin State, but the cathedral is at Verapoly.


This district was occupied in the first instance by a large community of Christians claiming to have been converted by St. Thomas the Apostle, and using a Syrian Rite. These were brought under the jurisdiction of the Portuguese after the Synod of Diamper in 1599, and ruled by Jesuit archbishops at Angamalé, and afterwards at Cranganore. After a few years, there arose a factional dispute which led to a revolt of practically the whole community. Carmelite missionaries were sent by Alexander VI in 1637 to bring about a reconciliation between the people and the Jesuits; but failing this they managed at least to bring the majority of them into ecclesiastical unity under their own rule. Thereupon the Carmelites (under Propaganda) were placed in full charge of the Syrian Christians, while those of the Latin Rite, who had been converted by Portuguese missionaries, were attached to the Diocese of Cochin. When the Dutch in 1663 drove the Portuguese out of Cochin, the Carmelites extended their care to the Latin Christians in Dutch territory. After 1700 the See of Cranganore acquired once more the allegiance of a certain portion of the Syrian Christians — the rest, with the Latin Christians, remaining under the Carmelite Vicar Apostolic of Verapoly or Malabar. During this time the lines between the two jurisdictions were practically indefinite, and the faithful passed freely from one side to the other. In more recent times the vicar Apostolic had, besides Malabar, active centres along the coast northwards up to Portuguese limits, including Mangalore and Carwar; and there was a free interchange of missionaries between the Malabar and the Bombay vicariates. In 1838 by the Brief Multa praeclare jurisdiction was totally withdrawn from the Portuguese Sees of Cochin and Cranganore, though in many places the Portuguese clergy still remained in possession and maintained their claims to jurisdiction as derived from Goa.

The Vicariate of Verapoly, which extended indefinitely even as far as Tanjore, was curtailed by dividing of the Vicariate of Quilon in 1845, and the Vicariate of Mangalore in 183. Further retrenchments occurred when the hierarchy was established in 1886. By this act Verapoly was made into an archbishopric; Quilon became a suffragan bishopric; the padroado Diocese of Cochin was restored, but with limits much smaller than formerly; the next year the Syrian Christians were assigned to two new vicars Apostolic of the Latin Rite at Kottayam and Trichur, who thus took the place of the suppressed See of Cranganore; and only Latin Christians in the remaining territory were left to form the Archdiocese of Verapoly.

Succession of vicars apostolic (all Carmelites)

Joseph a Sta. Maria de Sebastiani 1656 (1661), retired before the Dutch in 1663; Alexander de Campo, 1663-1678; Thomas de Castro, 1675-1684; Raphael de Figuredo Salgado, 1681, retired on account of quarrels in 1694; Angelus Francis of St. Teresa, 1700, was in 1709 entitled "Vicar Apostolic of Cranganore and Cochin" on account of long vacancy of those sees, died 1712; John Baptist Multedo of St. Teresa, 1714-1750; Florence of Jesus of Nazareth, 1750-1773; Francis de Sales a Matre Dolorosa, 1774-1787; John Mary of St. Thomas, 1780 (died before consecration); John Mary of Jesus, 1784 (death not marked); Raymond of St. Joseph, 1803-1816; Miles Prendergast, 1819, resigned 1831; Francis Xavier Pescetto of St. Anne, 1831-1844; Ludovico Nartini of St. Teresa, 1839, resigned 1859; Bernardino Baccinelli of St. Teresa, 1847 (1859), 1868, received archiepiscopal rank; Leonardo Mellano of St. Louis, 1868, received archiepiscopal rank 1860, became first Archbishop of Verapoly in 1887, died 1897; Bernard of Jesus, present archbishop since 1897.

Religious institutions

For Men

St. Teresa's Monastery, Ernakulam, with 7 Discalced Carmelite Fathers of the First Order and 3 lay brothers; Monastery of the Immaculate Conception, Magnumel, near Verapoly, with 9 Tertiary Carmelite Fathers, and 9 lay brothers, besides novices; St. Philomena's Monastery, Cunemao, near Verapoly, with 3 Tertiary Fathers, 3 lay brothers and some postulants.

For Women

St. Teresa's Carmelite Convent, with 7 Tertiary sisters; St. Joseph's Convent, Verapoly, with 8 sisters; and St. Joseph's Convent, Kottayam, with 4 sisters, besides novices in each convent.

Educational Institutions for Boys

St. Joseph's Preparatory Seminary, founded in 1908, with 16 students; St. Albert's High School, Ernakulam, teaching up to matriculation with 600 pupils, of whom above 100 are boarders.

For Girls

St. Teresa's Convent Boarding School, Ernakulam, with 191 pupils; St. Joseph's Boarding School Convent, Verapoly, with 95 pupils; St. Joseph's Convent Boarding School with 144 pupils; all under Tertiary Carmelite sisters. Also 10 vernacular schools and 123 parochial schools, with a collective roll of 4625 boys and 2918 girls.

Charitable Institutions for Boys

St. Joseph's Orphanage, Ernakulam, vernacular, English and industrial schools, with 30 orphans; Good Shepherd Orphanage, Kottayam, under Brothers of St. Teresa, with industrial school, etc., 28 orphans.

For Girls

St. Teresa's Orphanage, Ernakulam, with 84 orphans; St. Joseph's Orphanage, Verapoly, with 45 orphans; St. Joseph's Orphanage, Kottayam, with 39 orphans, all under Carmelite Sisters.


St. Joseph's Hospital, Magnumel, and dispensary with 128 indoor and about 12,000 outdoor patients during the year. Four catechumenates at Verapoly, Magnumel, Cranganore and Kottayam. The number of conversions recorded in 1909 was 632. The publications of the archdiocese are: "Messenger of the Sacred Heart" in Malayalam; "Promptuarium Canonico-Liturgicum" for the clergy; both printed at the Industrial School Press, Ernakulam.

About this page

APA citation. Hull, E. (1912). Archdiocese of Verapoly. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Hull, Ernest. "Archdiocese of Verapoly." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Michael T. Barrett. Dedicated to the Catholics of the Diocese of Verapoly.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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