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Updated:  Aug 12, 2013
prev: Madianites Madianites Diocese of Madrid-Alcala next: Diocese of Madrid-Alcala

Archdiocese of Madras

Diocese in India

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* Published by Encyclopedia Press, 1913.


Madras (MADRASPATAM), Archdiocese of (MADRASPATANA), in India. Its area is about 40,350 square miles, and the Catholic population about 50,000 out of a total of over seven millions. The diocese is under the care of secular clergy (European and native) and the missionaries of St. Joseph, Mill Hill. There are in the archdiocese 47 churches and 135 chapels in charge of 59 priests (of whom 39 are Europeans, 18 natives and 2 Eurasians), assisted by the Brothers of St. Patrick and of St. Francis of Assisi, Nuns of the Orders of the Presentation and the Good Shepherd, the Sisters of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and the Native Sisterhoods of St. Anne, of St. Francis of Assisi, of St. Francis Xavier, numbering in all 262.

From the year 1606 the districts covered by the present Diocese of Madras belonged to the Padroado See of San Thorne. In 1642, however, a Capuchin mission was started at Madras and erected Into a prefecture Apostolic under Propaganda. This mission was kept up by the same order until the substitution of a vicariate Apostolic in 1832. The frequent vacancies of the See of San Thorne and other reasons led the Holy See in 1832 to erect a new vicariate Apostolic in place of the old prefecture Apostolic, and, by the brief "Multa Prieclare" of 1838, to withdraw entirely the jurisdiction of San Thorne as well as the other Padroado suffragan sees, transferring this portion of it to the new Vicar Apostolic of Madras, the other portions being assigned to the Vicars Apostolic of Madura, of Bengal, and of the Coromandel Coast (Pondicherry), etc. The Vicariate of Madras was at first very extensive, but was reduced by the erection of new vicariates—those of Vizagapatam in 1849 and Hyderabad in 1851. On the establishment of the hierarchy in 1886, Madras was made into an archdiocese, with Vizagapatam and Hyderabad as suffragan dioceses, and the following year a third suffragan see was added at Nagpur by a subdivision ofthe territory of Vizagapatam. Subsequently the Doab of Raichur was ceded to Hyderabad, and thus the present boundaries were arrived at. Within the confines of the archdiocese there are five exempted churches in Madras belonging to the jurisdiction of San Thome, and on the other hand Adyar in the Mylapore confines is under the jurisdiction of Madras.

The list of Capuchin prefects Apostolic from 1642 to 1832 is not accessible. Vicars Apostolic: John Bede Polding, O.S.B., nominated in 1832, but declined; Pedro D'Alcantara, O. Carm. Disc., Vic. Ap. of Bombay, appointed ad interim 1834-35; Daniel O'Connell, O.S.A., 1835-40; Patrick Joseph Carew, 1840-42;, John Fennelly, 1842-68; Stephen Fennelly, 1868-80; Joseph Colgan, 1882, became archbishop in 1886, still living; present coadjutor-bishop, John Aelen, since 1892. The Mill Hill Fathers, who first entered the diocese in 1882, have St. Mary's European High School, Madras, founded 1906, with 130 European pupils; St. Gabriel's High School, Madras, founded 1839, with 200 native pupils; St. Joseph's European School, Bellary, with 65 boarders and 20 day-scholars; Native Higher Secondary School, Bellary, with 100 Telugu pupils. The Brothers of St. Patrick, established 1875, have St. Patrick's Orphanage, Adyar, with 90 orphans, also European Boarding School with 60 pupils. The Tertiary Brothers of St. Francis of Assisi, founded 1889, established at Bellary, 1899, have a school with 52 boarders and primary school with 117 boys.

The Presentation Nuns, established 1842, have the Presentation Convent College, Madras, with 200 boarders and 225 day scholars, besides a branch school at Royapuram, with 104 pupils; at Vepery, a convent school with 40 boarders and 91 day scholars, an orphanage with 22 inmates, and St. Joseph's High School (founded 1884) with 20 pupils. The Good Shepherd Nuns, established in 1875 at Bellary: noviciate of the order, and also of Native Sisters of St. Francis Xavier; St. Philomena's High School for Europeans, with boarders and day-scholars (total 135); military orphanage; St. Joseph's Orphanage for European Girls, with 65 inmates; St. Xavier's Orphanage, for native children, with 28 inmates; Magdalene asylum and widows' home opened in 1896, with 19 inmates. Sisters of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, established in 1904: dispensaries at Guntur and Vetapalem, and schools with about 140 pupils; novitiate with 6 novices. Native Sisters of St. Anne, established at Kilacheri in 1863 (Telugu caste nuns): school with 63 pupils; school at Royapuram, founded 1885, with 148 pupils; school at N. George Town, founded 1900, with 150 pupils. Native Sisters of St. Francis Xavier: day-school at Phiranghipuram, with 120 pupils, and primary school, with 180 boys; teachers' training-school, orphanage and widows' home; school at Rentachintla, with 180 pupils, and at Patibandla, with 100 pupils; lower secondary school at Denary, with 65 pupils; orphanage, with 20 inmates. Native Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, founded 1884: four schools at Vepery, with 250 pupils; orphanage, with 18 inmates, and foundling asylum.

Leaving aside the larger high schools, convent schools, and European and native orphanages, there are in the archdiocese 3 English schools for boys, 2 for girls, and 4 mixed; 16 Tamil schools for boys, 6 for girls, and 5 mixed; 38 Telugu schools for boys, 6 for girls, and 15 mixed. The Tamil Catholic population is strong in Madras and neighborhood, where there are many churches, while in the outlying parts there are three Telugu mission groups in the Guntur, Bellary and Chingleput districts. As regards indications of missionary progress, the estimated Catholic population in 1888 was 43,587, as compared with 49,290 in 1908. The finest building in Madras is the old cathedral, Armenian Street, built in 1775; but several fine churches have been erected in the districts.

Local publications include the Madras "Catholic Watchman", a weekly paper started in 1887; the "Madras Catholic Directory", published annually since 1851, and covering the whole of India, Burma Ceylon, and Malacca, with an appendix on Siam and China; the "Nalla Ayan", a Tamil monthly.

ERNEST R. HULL


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