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400th year celebrations of archdiocese

Chennai, June 22: The archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore, one of the three
early dioceses set up by Portuguese Christian missionaries in India, is
all set to celebrate 400 years of its existence on July 6, with various
programmes over a 10-day period, starting tomorrow. 

Madras-Mylapore archbishop A M Chinnappa told reporters here last night
that the celebrations were being held to remember the services of
Portuguese bishops in the 15th century and to coincide with the annual
celebrations of Santhome cathedral basilica, which has been declared by
the Bishops Council of India as a national shrine. 

A team of 12 bishops, led by the archbishop of Portugal, Jorge Ferreira
da Costa Ortiga, would arrive here on July 2 to participate in the
celebrations, he said. 

As part of the celebrations, the diocese plans to construct a
multistoried building near the basilica, the foundation stone for which
will be laid by the Papal representative in India, Pedro Lopez Quintana
on July 3, he said. 
In the later part of 15th century, the Catholic king of Portugal and the
Pope deputed bishops and priests to India to look after the spiritual
needs of Christians, which was taken care of then by the bishops of
Asia. These bishops, on arrival in the country, set up the first diocese
in Goa in 1533 and at Cochin in 1557. The diocese in Chennai was set up
on July 6, 1606. 
The church at Santhome is one of the three churches in the world, built
on the tombs of the apostles of Jesus Christ. 

One apostle, Saint Thomas, who came to Chennai from Kochi in 52 AD, was
murdered here in 72 AD. Christians believe that he himself built the
Santhome church. (Our Correspondent)




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