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Holy See–India relations

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India-Holy See relations
Map indicating locations of Holy See and India

Holy See


India-Holy See relations are the bilateral relations between the India and Holy See, which is sovereign over the Vatican City. Formal bilateral relations between the two exist since 12 June 1948. An Apostolic Delegation existed from 1881. The Holy See has a nunciature in New Delhi while India has accredited its embassy in Vienna, Austria to the Holy See as well. India's Ambassador in Bern has traditionally been accredited to the Holy See. Since 2020, Jaideep Mazumdar, India's ambassador to Austria has been the ambassador to the Holy See. Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli was appointed as the Apostolic Nuncio to India in March 2021.


Connections between the Catholic church and India can be traced back to the apostle St. Thomas, who, according to tradition, came to India in 52 AD.[1][2][3] Bishops were sent to India from Syria as early as the 6th or 7th centuries.[4] There is a record of an Indian bishop visiting Rome at the time of Pope Callixtus II (1119–1124).[5]

The diplomatic mission was established as the Apostolic Delegation to the East Indies in 1881, and included Ceylon, and was extended to Malaca in 1889, and then to Burma in 1920, and eventually included Goa in 1923. It was raised to an Internunciature by Pope Pius XII on 12 June 1948 and to a full Apostolic Nunciature by Pope Paul VI on 22 August 1967. India initially had a legation to the Holy See, with the Minister at Berne accredited as Minister to the Holy See.[6] The Indian mission was raised to the status of an embassy led by an ambassador in 1965.[7]

Bilateral visits[edit]

There have been three Papal visits to India. The first Pope to visit India was Pope Paul VI, who visited Mumbai in 1964 to attend the International Eucharistic Congress. Pope John Paul II visited several places in India including Chennai in February 1986[8] and then again visited New Delhi in November 1999.[9] Several Indian dignitaries have, from time to time, called on the Pope in the Vatican. These include Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1955,[10] Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1981, Prime Minister I.K. Gujral in September 1997, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2000 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2021.[11] Vice-president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat represented the country at the funeral of Pope John Paul II. External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj led a delegation to the Vatican for the canonisation function of Saint Teresa of Calcutta in September 2016, when she also called on Pope Francis. She was accompanied by the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee.

Indian ambassadors to the Holy See[edit]

From Till Name Designation
1949 1951 Dhirajlal Bhulabhai Desai Minister
1951 1952 Nedyan Raghaven Minister
1952 1953 Asaf Ali Minister
1953 1954 Yezdezard Dinshaw Gundevia Minister
1954 1955 Abid Hasan Safrani Chargé d'affaires
1955 1958 Mohan Sinha Mehta Minister
1958 1961 M. K. Vellodi Minister
1962 1964 Mohamed Abdul Rauf Minister
1964 1965 Vishnuprasad Chunilal Trivedi Minister
1965 1967 Vishnuprasad Chunilal Trivedi Ambassador
1968 1970 Mohamed Azim Husain Ambassador
1971 1974 Arjan Singh Ambassador
1974 1977 Avtar Singh Ambassador
1977 1978 Uma Shankar Bajpai Ambassador
1978 1979 Amba Prasad Chargé d'affaires
1979 1981 Gurbachan Singh Ambassador
1981 1982 Narendra Singh Ambassador
1982 1985 Thomas Abraham Ambassador
1985 1986 Om Parkash Aggarwal Chargé d'affaires
1986 1990 Ashoke Sen Chib Ambassador
1990 1994 Madhaw Keshav Mangalmurti Ambassador
1994 2000 Kizhakke Pisharath Balakrishnan Ambassador
2000 2002 Niranjan Natverlal Desai Ambassador
2002 2005 Praveen Lal Goyal Ambassador
2005 2006 Snehi Desh Bandhu Chargé d'affaires
2006 2008 Amitava Tripathi Ambassador
2008 2009 Ajaneesh Kumar Chargé d'affaires
2009 2013 Chitra Narayanan Ambassador
2013 2014 Nagendra Prasad Chargé d'affaires
2014 2015 Mysore Kapanaiah Lokesh Ambassador
2015 2017 Smitha Purushottam Ambassador
2017 2020 Sibi George Ambassador
2020 present Jaideep Mazumdar Ambassador

Reference: [12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A. E. Medlycott, (1905) "India and the Apostle Thomas"; Gorgias Press LLC; ISBN 1-59333-180-0.
  2. ^ The Encyclopedia of Christianity, Volume 5 by Erwin Fahlbusch. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing – 2008. p. 285. ISBN 978-0-8028-2417-2.
  3. ^ Leslie W. Brown (1956). The Indian Christians of St Thomas, an Account of the Ancient Syrian Church of Malabar. University Press.
  4. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: St. Thomas Christians". Newadvent.org. 1 July 1912. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  5. ^ Robert Silverberg, The Realm of Prester John, pp. 29–34.
  6. ^ "Report of the Ministry of External Affairs 1948-49". Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  7. ^ "To the first Ambassador of India to the Holy See (March 25, 1965) | Paul VI". vatican.va.
  8. ^ "Apostolic Nunciature, India & Nepal".
  9. ^ "Pastoral Visit of His Holiness John Paul II to New Delhi". Vatican.va. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  10. ^ "Pope Tells Nehru of Duty To Seek True World Peace". The Catholic Northwest Progress. Vol. 58, no. 28. 15 July 1955. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  11. ^ Tribune News Service. "PM Modi meets Pope Francis at Vatican, invites him to visit India". Tribuneindia News Service. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  12. ^ "DAS BEIM HL. STUHL AKKREDITIERTE DIPLOMATISCHE KORPS – Die Apostolische Nachfolge" (in German). Retrieved 15 March 2021.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]