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A BRIEF HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE DIOCESE OF WARANGAL

Jesus’ public ministry began with an invitation to all, “The Kingdom of God is near, repent and believe.” (Mk. 1:15) and after his death and resurrection, He commissioned His disciples to go to the whole world and proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom (Mk.16: 15). Following the command of their Master, the disciples spread into different directions of the world. According to the Christian tradition in South India, St.Thomas the Apostle came to our country in 52 A.D. and preached the Gospel, established Christian communities in Kerala. He also worked at Mylapore (Chennai) and was martyred there. The seeds sown by St. Thomas took centuries to grow in this vast country. Later, it was the expedition of Vasco da Gama in 1498 that brought along some Portuguese Missionaries to India. Since then more and more Portuguese Missionaries came to India and spread Christianity in different parts of the country. It was one such Franciscan Missionary, Luis do Salvador, who made a dent into our Telugunadu, by entering Vijayanagar Kingdom and sowed the seeds of Christian faith. He faced severe opposition in expanding Christianity and was killed in 1510. He became the First Martyr of the Church in Andhra. In the second half of the 16th Century, the Jesuits continued the work of the Franciscans in Vijayanagar Kingdom. In 1689 a group of French Jesuits started what is known as the Carnatic Mission and it was this Mission with its gradual growth that paved the path for establishment of the Church in Andhra. As the Jesuit Congregation was suppressed in the year 1773, Propaganda Fide, on 30th September 1776, entrusted the Carnatic Mission to the French Foreign Missionaries of Paris (MEP). Under MEP, the Carnatic Mission spread far and wide in Andhra Region. A noteworthy Missionary of them was Msgr.Clement Bonnand. On 20th  Dec. 1827, he came to Phirangipuram Mission, which comprised the present Guntur, Prakasham and Nellore districts. He worked hard in this Mission. With the hard work of the MEP Missionaries’ the number of the Mission Centres increased and this necessitated Ecclesiastical reorganisation. In 1832, Madras was erected as a Vicariate, bringing under it the entire Telugu Mission. Later on, for further administrative facilities, Visakhapatnam and Hyderabad were bifurcated from Madras Vicariate and were erected into separate Vicariates in 1850 and 1851 respectively. While the former was entrusted to the Missionaries of Francis de Sales (MSFS), the latter was given to the Pontificio Istituto Missioni Estere (PIME) of Milan, Italy. Even after the establishment of the new vicariates, Madras Vicariate still had Missions in the North of Madras, in the Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema. They were entrusted to the care of Mill Hill Missionaries of London.

Hyderabad Vicariate consisted of all Telangana districts and some parts of Coastal Andhra. The mission developed under PIME Missionaries, who preached more by example than word. Hyderabad was erected as a diocese in 1886. Then on-wards the Mission developed even more. The number of Catholics increased in various parts of the diocese and the Mission stations. This called for the bifurcation of the diocese. Vijayawada was bifurcated from Hyderabad diocese into 'Sui Uris' in 1933 and was erected as a diocese in 1937.