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32 Thornhill Road
Allahabad -211 002
"The history of the Church of Allahabad is linked with the early missionary expeditions to Tibet and Nepal"
The Italian Capuchins of Ancona were commissioned in 1703 to evangelize Tibet. In 1707 six priest reached Lhasa. They were well received by the Grand Lama and allowed to build a church and a house. For lack of personnel, they had to abandon Tibet twice. In 1741 a third expedition was sent, but this time pressure from the lamas led to persecution. The missionaries continued their healing apostolate but to little avail. In 1745 they left Lhasa for Nepal. Twenty four Tibetan converts gathered together for the final Mass before the missionaries left and the Tibet mission was closed.
During the years 1738-1741, the kings of Bhatgon and Kathmandu asked the missionaries to open a mission in their kingdoms. They provided land and a house for the priests. By November 1767 the mission had recorded 59 Baptisms. But in July 1745 war broke out between Bhatgaon, Patan and Kathmandu. Prithvi Narayan, ruler of the Ghurkas, came to power as liberator of the three kingdoms, and within 8 years he conquered the rest of Nepal. He denied the missionaries the royal subsidies granted by his predecessors. Without financial help the missionaries left Nepal for Bettiah.
Patna had served as a resting place for the missionaries traveling between Nepal, Tibet and Chandernagar. In 1773 the mission of Agra was entrusted to the Carmelite Fathers. Due to the shortage of missionaries, these two missions were amalgamated and entrusted to the Ancona missionaries. Political disturbances in Europe added to the burden caused by the shortage of priests, but local Catholics persevered in their faith.
In 1820 the prefecture of Tibet-Hindustan was elevated to a Vicariate based in Agra. In 1825, Father Anthony Pezzoni was appointed Vicar Apostolic. He left India in 1842, and was succeeded by Msgr. Joseph Anthony Borghi. At the request of Msgr. Borghi, Patna was made a separate Vicariate in 1845.
VICARIATE OF PATNA (1845-1886)
Msgr. Anastasius Hartmann of Lucerne was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Patna on Sept. 8, 1845, after Carli of Pastoria refused the appointment. He was consecrated on March 13, 1846, at Agra. The Catholic population at this time was two thousand. Chunar, Benaras and Ghazipur were soon added to the Vicariate of Patna.
ERECTION OF THE DIOCESE OF ALLAHABAD
On Sept. 1, 1886, Patna Vicariate was elevated to become the Diocese of Allahabad. The town of Allahabad was officially recognized as the new see city, and Father Francis Pesci became its first Bishop. On Dec. 20, 1890, the local Church was transferred to the care of the Capuchin province of Bologna.
To promote the mission work, some areas of Allahabad Diocese were detached to form new prefectures and dioceses. In 1887, Purnea and Darjeeling were ceded to the Archdiocese of Calcutta. In 1892 Bettiah, Chuhari, and Latonah were separated as the prefecture of Bettiah. Patna became its own diocese in 1919, taking Bankipore, Bhagalpur and Jaunpur with it. Jabalpur Prefecture was formed in 1932 ibcluding Nawgong, Saugor, Bina and Shampura. The Prefecture of Indore was formed in 1935 with the addition of Bhopal and Sehore from Allahabad. In January 1940, Lucknow Diocese was formed with 10 civil districts of Uttar Pradesh taken from the Diocese of Allahabad. At the same time, Jhansi Prefecture (now a diocese) was erected comprising six civil districts of U.P. from Allahabad. Finally, Varanasi Prefecture was formed comprising Varanasi, Mughalsarai, Francispur, Ghazipur, Hartmannpur, Gorakhpur and Shahganj. Varanasi was raised to the status of a Diocese in 1970.
Allahabad remains a large diocese despite losing territory to seven ecclesiastical units. The Capuchins administered it until 1947, when Capuchin Bishop Angelo Poli handed it over to diocesan clergy headed by Bishop Leonard Raymond (later Archbishop of Nagpur), its first Indian ordinary.