News & Reports

Ministry of the Catholic Church in A.P.

The purpose of this Note is to provide a bird's eye view of the ministry of the Catholic Church in the State of Andhra Pradesh. Staring with a short description of its historical moorings, the Paper goes on to present a picture of the Andhra Pradesh Bishops' Council, its Regional Bodies / Commissions. The main forms of social services and developmental works under taken by the A.P. Church are listed in the third part of the Paper while the last part concludes with the mention of the challenges and opportunities faced by her in the present context.

1.Historical Growth of the A.P. Church

1.1 Christian Presence in the Ancient Period

Christian presence in Andhra Pradesh seemed to have continually existed almost from the beginning of Christianity in one form or another. In the first century, some Greek Christians from Alexandria settled in Masula presently known as Machilipatnam, a coastal port town. It was for long a trading post of Roman merchants. Even some Jews passed through it and made their settlement in the nearby trading towns like Guntur where a Synagogue was built. Armenian Christian merchants and migrants had their settlements in Macilipatnam and nearby locations.

As the tradition goes, an important event which could testify to the presence of Christians in Andhra Pradesh from the early centuries is the Council of Nicea held in 325 C.E. It is recorded that a delegation from "Divos" represented the Church in India in the Council. Some historians identify "Divos" as Diviseema. It is also recorded that Arian emperor Constantius sent Theophilus who was originally an Indian to the island called “Divus” which was inhabited by Indian Christians in the 4th century. This island is identified differently by various historians while some feel that it could be Diveeseema.

Among the letters given by Pope XXII around 1330 to Bishop Jordan Catalani addressed to the Kings and the Christians in India, the historians report that there was one to be conveyed to the faithful at "Mausolipatinam" (Machilipatnam) along with the one for the Mylapore Christians. A Christian king named Solomon, ruled parts of Orissa and Andhra according to the Catalon Map dated 1375. Fr. H. Colli (+1962), an Indologist and Sanskrit scholar of renown, affirms that Christians (Nestorians or Catholics) were already present at Vijayanagar in 1442. He bases his conjecture on some report of Abdur Razack, Persian ambassador at the Vijayanagar Court, who mentions that the Prime Minister (Vizier) of Vijayanagar was a Christian.

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