Church in India

Developments of the Holy See’s Representation in India

(1884 – 2013) 

Apostolic Delegation

The Holy See’s Representation in India began with the establishment of Permanent Apostolic Delegation to the East Indies on 25 September 1884 when Pope Leo XIII appointed Archbishop Antonio Agliardi as Papal Representative.

The Apostolic Delegation is Pope’s permanent mission to the local Church, without having formal diplomatic status with the hosting government. The Apostolic Delegation of the East Indies included Ceylon, and extended to Malaca in 1889, and then to Burma in 1920.

Apostolic Internunciature

On 12 June 1948 the Apostolic Delegation of the East Indies was raised to the rank of Apostolic Internunciature (interim nunciature) by Pope Pius XII. It was headed by Prelates appointed and sent by the Pope as diplomatic representatives of the Holy See. They belonged to the second class (after Nuncios) of Holy See diplomatic representatives, with the rank of an envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary and they were officially known as Apostolic Internuncios (Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Convention, Art. 14 para. b). At present there are no Papal Representatives bearing the title of Internuncio. 

Apostolic Nunciature

Eventually the Apostolic Internuciature of the East Indies became an Apostolic Nunciature on 22 August 1967 during the pontificate of Pope Paul VI.  The Apostolic Nunciature is a diplomatic mission of the Holy See, equivalent to an embassy, headed by a Papal Nuncio (from Latin nuntius, meaning ‘messenger’), with ambassadorial rank, officially known as Apostolic Nuncio. He is a permanent diplomatic representative of the Holy See accredited to a State or International Organization with full diplomatic relations.

In 1967 and 1973 Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Burma (now Myamar) were respectively detached from the Apostolic Nunciature of East Indies, while Malaca, as part of modern Malaysia, was detached earlier in 1957. They became separate Apostolic Nunciatures.

130 years of the Nunciature

Diocese Summary

SummaryLatinSyro-MalabarSyro-Malankara
Diocese : 145
Archdiocese : 32

Total : 177
Diocese : 112
Archdiocese : 24

Total : 136
Diocese : 26
Archdiocese : 6

Total : 32
Diocese : 7
Archdiocese : 2

Total : 9

Bishops' Summary

SummaryLatinSyro-MalabarSyro-Malankara
Cardinals : 4
Archbishops : 26
Bishops : 134
Aux.Bishop : 16
Co-Adjutors : 0
Curia Bishops : 1
Apostolic Visitator : 0
Apostolic Administrator : 3
Retired : 65
Diocesan Administrator : 3

Total : 252
Cardinals : 2
Archbishops : 21
Bishops : 103
Aux.Bishop : 7
Co-Adjutors : 0
Curia Bishops : 0
Apostolic Visitator : 0
Apostolic Administrator : 3
Retired : 42
Diocesan Administrator : 3

Total : 181
Cardinals : 1
Archbishops : 4
Bishops : 23
Aux.Bishop : 7
Co-Adjutors : 0
Curia Bishops : 0
Apostolic Visitator : 0
Apostolic Administrator : 0
Retired : 18
Diocesan Administrator : 0

Total : 53
Cardinals : 1
Archbishops : 1
Bishops : 8
Aux.Bishop : 2
Co-Adjutors : 0
Curia Bishops : 1
Apostolic Visitator : 0
Apostolic Administrator : 0
Retired : 1
Diocesan Administrator : 0

Total : 14