Holy See–India relations
Holy See–India relations refers to bilateral relations between the Holy See, which is sovereign over the Vatican City, and India. 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 Bern, Switzerland to the Holy See as well. India’s Ambassador in Bern has traditionally been accredited to the Holy See. The present Apostolic Nuncio to India is Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio while India's ambassador to the Holy See is Smitha Purushottam.
Connexions 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. Bishops were sent to India from Syria as early as the 6th or 7th centuries. There is a record of an Indian bishop visiting Rome at the time of Pope Callixtus II (1119–1124).
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.
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 in February 1986 and then again visited New Delhi in November 1999. Several Indian dignitaries have, from time to time, called on the Pope in the Vatican. These include Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1981 and Prime Minister I.K. Gujral in September 1987. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister, called on the Pope in June 2000 during his official visit to Italy. Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat represented the country at the funeral of Pope John Paul II.
- A. E. Medlycott, (1905) "India and the Apostle Thomas"; Gorgias Press LLC; ISBN 1-59333-180-0.
- The Encyclopedia of Christianity, Volume 5 by Erwin Fahlbusch. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing - 2008. p. 285. ISBN 978-0-8028-2417-2.
- Leslie W. Brown (1956). The Indian Christians of St Thomas, an Account of the Ancient Syrian Church of Malabar. University Press.
- Robert Silverberg, The Realm of Prester John, pp. 29–34.