Diocese of Coimbatore
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Population

In Coimbatore diocese, the population was 4,224,107 at the end of 2003. (The population of the whole country is 1 billion). Tamils and Malayalees form the majority groups in the diocese. Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telegu are the languages spoken in the diocese.

Political

Coimbatore city is administered by a corporation headed by an elected mayor and council. The towns are managed by municipalities. The villages and small towns are administered by elected local bodies called panchayats.

Transportation

The region is well connected by railways and roads. Coimbatore has its own airport.

Climate

The diocese enjoys a pleasant climate throughout the year as it is situated near the Western Ghats, a range of hills in South India.

Geography

The diocesan territory stretches over 28,490 square kilometers and covers the civil districts of Coimbatore and parts of the civil districts of Erode and Karur in the state of Tamil Nadu, and part of the civil district of Palakhad in the neighboring state of Kerala. Coimbatore is the biggest city in the diocese with more than 1 million people. Erode and Palakhad are other important towns in the diocese.

Economy

The per capita income in the diocesan territory is 23,515 rupees (about US$533 as of January 2007). Farming, automobile-manufacturing, engineering and textiles are the major industries in the diocese. Cash crops such as cashew nuts, coffee, tea and spices are widely produced in the diocesan area.

Telecommunication

Government and private operators provide extensive telecommunication facilities in the diocesan area. The diocese is well connected by local cable TV networks.

Education

The literacy rate in the diocesan territory is 75.54 percent.

Industries

Christianity took root in Coimbatore in the early 1650s. A small chapel was built and named after Saint Francis Xavier. A Jesuit priest called Father Garrie, who was living Karumathampatty, met the spiritual needs of Christians in Coimbatore.

From 1656-1773, the Jesuits did mission work here, but later, due to the suppression of the Jesuit order by the pope. Coimbatore was given to the care of the French MEP missionaries in 1775.

On April 3, 1845, Karumathampatty became the headquarters of Coimbatore diocese. Coimbatore, which had formerly been part of Pondicherry archdiocese, was removed from the archdiocese on Oct. 4, 1846. Father Marion Bresillac was consecrated first Bishop of Coimbatore. In honor of his patron saint, he dedicated the diocese and it's cathedral to St. Michael. He also planned to model the Cathedral after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. He laid the foundation stone for the cathedral in 1850. The construction of the cathedral took 17 years and it was successfully completed with financial help from Propaganda Fide, now the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. The cathedral was blessed by Bishop Gladius Maria Depomier, the third Bishop of Coimbatore, on April 28, 1867.

In 1847, a priest, Father Bacro purchased a small house surrounded by tobacco fields for 4,000 rupees. The area is now home to the Bishop's House, St. Michael's School, St. Joseph's Minor Seminary, Jeeva Jothi Ashram, I.C.C. Hospital, I.C. Convent, Presentation Convent Generalate, St. Joseph's Industrial School and Swamiar New Street in Fort, Coimbatore.

In 1870, Bishop Gladius Maria Depomier participated in the First Vatican Council. Father Joseph Bardou became the next Bishop of Coimbatore from Aug. 23, 1874. When a severe drought swept Coimbatore from 1876-1878, he helped the people to a great extent by making porridge containers. He died on Feb. 7, 1903.

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