Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bombay

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bombay (or Mumbai) is a Latin particular church of the Roman Catholic Church in western India's state of Maharashtra. The archdiocese has been a Metropolitan see since its elevation by Pope Leo XIII on 1 September 1886.

Archdiocese of Bombay

Archidioecesis Bombayensis
Country India
Ecclesiastical provinceBombay
Coordinates18°55′24″N 72°49′50″E / 18.923457°N 72.830646°E / 18.923457; 72.830646Coordinates: 18°55′24″N 72°49′50″E / 18.923457°N 72.830646°E / 18.923457; 72.830646
Area10,103 km2 (3,901 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics (including non-members)
(as of 2012)
525,017 (2.57%)
DenominationRoman Catholic
RiteLatin Rite
Established1 September 1886
CathedralCathedral of the Holy Name, Mumbai
Patron saintSaint Gonsalo Garcia
Saint Francis Xavier
Current leadership
ArchbishopOswald Gracias
Auxiliary BishopsDominic Savio Fernandes
John Rodrigues
Barthol Barretto
Vicar GeneralMost Rev. Dominic Savio Fernandes,
Most Rev. John Rodrigues,
Most Rev. Allwyn D'silva,
Most Rev. Barthol Barretto
Episcopal VicarsFr Caesar D'mello,
Fr. Felix D’Souza,
Fr Barthol S. Machado,
Fr Harold Vaz,
Judicial VicarFr. K.T. Emmanuel
Bishops emeritusPercival Joseph Fernandez
Bosco Penha
Agnelo Rufino Gracias
Building that houses the Archbishop of Bombay next to the Holy Name Cathedral

The cathedral of the episcopal see is the Cathedral of the Holy Name, in Bombay (Mumbai). It also has the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount (Mount Mary Church), in Bandra.

As of 2006, the archdiocese had 277 diocesan priests, 283 religious priests, 383 male religious and 1,530 religious sisters. The archdiocese serves a total of 506,976 Catholics in 121 parishes scattered across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (formerly Bombay).

The current archbishop is Oswald Gracias, who was appointed on 14 October 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI.[1]


The Portuguese first reached the west coast of India when Vasco da Gama landed at Calicut in 1498.[2] They finally established themselves at Goa in 1510.[3] In 1526 they established a factory in Bassein. In 1534, the islands of Bassein, Salsette, Bombay and Karanja were ceded to the Portuguese by Bahadur Shah of Gujarat.[4][5] In this very year, the Archdiocese of Goa was created and the whole of the western coast around Bombay formed part of that archdiocese.[6] Missionary activities in Bassein (Burma), Salsette and Bombay commenced from 1534 onwards, thus laying the foundation for the future Archdiocese of Bombay. The Portuguese missionaries who accompanied the conquerors were the Franciscans, Jesuits, Dominicans and Augustinians.

In 1637, the Holy See established the Apostolic Vicariate of Idalcan, also called Bijapur or Deccan, on vast territory split off from the Metropolitan Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Goa.

In 1665, the Bombay Island was ceded to the British as a part of the marriage dowry to Charles II of England by Catherine of Braganza of Portugal.[7] In 1669 the pre-diocesan jurisdiction was renamed as Apostolic Vicariate of Great Mogul, exceptionally after the imperial Muslim prince above the princely states of Hind(ustan). The year 1692 marked an end to the Jesuit presence in Bombay.

The Decree expelling the Portuguese Franciscans from Bombay was issued by the British on 24 May 1720. On 17 May 1784 it lost huge territory to establish the Mission sui juris of Hindustan, nucleus of the Archbishopric of Agra.

Later, the British allowed the Italian Carmelites to take charge of the Catholic community in Bombay. In 1794 the double jurisdiction was devised by the British, which let them interfere in the religious life of the Catholics. In 1820 it was renamed after its see to Apostolic Vicariate of Bombay.

Agnelo Rufino Gracias, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Bombay

On 12 December 1853 the Carmelites asked to be relieved of the administration of the Bombay Mission. The Holy See accepted their resignation and thus ended, after a period of 133 years (1720–1853), the Carmelite administration of the Vicariate of Bombay. On 16 February 1854 the Propaganda Fide officially divided the Bombay Vicariate into the northern Vicariate of Bombay, entrusted the Bombay Vicariate to the Capuchin Fathers (comprising the islands of Bombay, Colaba, Aurangabad, Khandesh, Malwa, Gujarat and Sindh as far as Kabul and Punjab) and the newly established southern Apostolic Vicariate of Poona (comprising the islands of Salsette and Bassein, and the regions of the Konkan and Deccan or Bijapur), entrusted to the Jesuit Fathers.

Finally, the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Bombay was established by Pope Leo XIII on 1 September 1886. The archdiocese received territorial jurisdiction over Bombay Island and over the northern districts of the Vicariate of Bombay with Poona as a suffragan diocese. Mangalore and Trichinopoly were added as suffragan sees in 1893, in which year the First Provincial Council was held (Acta et Decreta, Bombay, 1898).

It lost further territory repeatedly: on 20 May 1948 to establish the Diocese of Karachi (in Pakistan), on 5 May 1949 to establish the Diocese of Ahmedabad, on 29 September 1966 to establish the Diocese of Baroda, in April 1988 to establish the Diocese of Kalyan and on 22 May 1998 to establish the Diocese of Vasai (its suffragan).

It enjoyed papal visits from Pope Paul VI in December 1964 and Pope John Paul II in February 1986.


The ecclesiastical province of Bombay includes the Metropolitan's own Archdiocese, Mumbai, and the following suffragan bishoprics :


Apostolic Vicar of IdalcanEdit

Apostolic Vicars of Great MogulEdit

  • Custodio do Pinho (1669-1694), appointed Apostolic Vicar of Malabar
  • Fernand Palma d'Artois, O.C.D. (1696-1701)
  • Pietro d’Alcántara di Santa Teresa Leonardi, O.C.D. (1704-1707)
  • Maurice di Santa Teresa Baistrocchi, O.C.D. (1708-1726)
  • Pietro d’Alcántara della Santissima Trinità Gagna di Cherasco, O.C.D. (1728-1744)
  • Innocent of the Presentation of Mary Strattmann, O.C.D. (1746-1753)
  • John Dominic of St. Clara Chiavassa, O.C.D. (1756-1772)
  • Charles of St. Conrad Vareschi, O.C.D. (1773-1785)
  • Angelin vom heiligen Joseph Geiselmayer, O.C.D. (1785-1786)
  • Viktor von der heiligen Maria Schwaiger, O.C.D. (1787-1793)
  • Pietro d’Alcántara di San Antonio Ramazzini, O.C.D. (1794-1820)

Apostolic Vicars of BombayEdit

Archbishops of BombayEdit

Oswald Gracias, the current Archbishop of Bombay

Coadjutor BishopsEdit

  • Aloysius Mary of St. Teresa Fortini, O.C.D. (1837-1840)
  • John Francis William Whelan, O.C.D. (1842-1848)


The Examiner (formerly called the Bombay Catholic Examiner), is a diocesan news weekly published at the Examiner Press of the Archdiocese of Bombay.[8] It was established on 10 July 1849 by a Jesuit father. Tej-Prasarini is a media and communication institution run by the Salesians of Don Bosco of the Archdiocese of Bombay. It combines a multimedia production centre with training programmes in creativity, media and peace education. It is a member of SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication. The archdiocese officially opened its own Catholic Communication Centre on 5 November 2011.[9]

Archdiocesan Board of EducationEdit

The Archdiocesan Board of Education, registered in 1985 as an Association under the Societies Registration Act –XXI / 1860, is a certified body for Catholic Institutions in Maharashtra and the Districts of Thane and Raigad. Functioning as a Federation of Schools for its first 20 years, the Consultation of Catholic Schools held in November 2004 reviewed the role of the ABE and recommended that it be an umbrella body for all Catholic Institutions, and that its role be extended to meet all the needs of Catholic Education.

The Board carries out tasks like co-ordination, research and documentation, planning and liaising with the State Department of Education and other Diocesan Bodies for its vast network of Educational Institutes, and offers services in legal and administrative problems. It also publishes a bulletin called 'Shikshan Vichar'.


In April 2012, at several police stations around the city complaints were filed by Catholic social activists[10] against the atheist activist Sanal Edamaruku under section 295 of the Indian Penal Code, which states that persons can be arrested and charged on the allegations of hurting the religious sentiments of a particular community. Edamaruku had previously made derogatory statements regarding the pope, the Catholic Church, and priests,[10] besides claiming to have exposed the "miracle" of the dripping Jesus in Mumba. He confronted Church leaders on a live TV channel a month earlier, and also suggested that he would be arrested any moment.[11] In early July 2012, this was borne out when police arrived at his house with the intent to arrest him.[12]

In a statement, the Auxiliary Bishop of Bambay said: "The Church is always cautious in attributing supernatural causes to out-of-the-ordinary phenomena. Whenever possible, it always tries to find 'scientific' explanations for similar events. It does not pay great attention to things like this, although it accepts the possibility that God can intervene in human life in 'extraordinary' ways: what we call 'miracles'."[13]

Saints and causes for canonisationEdit


  1. ^ "Appointments". Apostolic Nunciature, India. Archived from the original on 18 May 2008. Retrieved 8 July 2008.
  2. ^ "Vasco da Gama (c.1460 - 1524)". BBC. Archived from the original on 20 January 2008. Retrieved 8 July 2008.
  3. ^ Kerr 1812
  4. ^ Maharashtra State Gazetteer, pp. 153–154
  5. ^ Robert 1812
  6. ^ "Archdiocese of Goa". New Advent. Retrieved 26 June 2008.
  7. ^ "A young town". The Economist. Archived from the original on 10 June 2008. Retrieved 8 August 2008.
  8. ^ "An era in the service of truth". The Examiner. Archived from the original on 16 May 2008. Retrieved 8 July 2008.
  9. ^ "History". Tej-Prasarini. Archived from the original on 22 June 2008. Retrieved 8 July 2008.
  10. ^ a b "Christian forums file FIRS after IRA chief calls 'miracle water' a scam". Midday. 15 April 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  11. ^ Doctorow, Cory. "Indian skeptic charged with "blasphemy" for revealing secret behind "miracle" of weeping cross". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
  12. ^ "Sanal Edamaruku's situation worsens: still facing arrest over debunking of Catholic miracle". New Humanist. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  13. ^ "Water from the cross of Irla. Indian atheist accuses Church of "manufacturing" miracles for money". AsiaNews. 13 March 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  14. ^ a b "Saints & Blessed – CCBI". Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  15. ^ "This new book chronicles Thane's 700-year-old connect with Christianity". mid-day. 24 June 2018. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
  16. ^ The Examiner. 63 (38). 21 September 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)


See alsoEdit

List of parishes of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bombay

Sources and external linksEdit