Dioceses of India
Total: 1

Diocese of Kottar

Quick Links:      History
Rite: Latin
Region : Tamil Nadu
Patron: St. Francis Xavier
Founded: 26 May 1930
Province: Madurai
Status: Diocese
Total area: 1,665 sq. kms.
Total Population : 2,62,899
Catholics Total: 5,56,762
Diocesan Priests: 281
Religious Priests: 63
Religious Sisters: 789
Minor Seminarians: 58
Major Seminarians: 99

Diocese of Kottar at a Glance

Ecclesiastical Institutions

Parishes & Substations : 350Retreat Centres: 04
Major Seminaries : 0Diocesan Minor Seminaries: 02
Congregation Minor Seminaries: 0Religious Formation Houses : 07
Men Religious Houses: 02Women Religious Houses: 126

Charitable Institutions

Hospitals : 12Dispensaries / Clinics / Health Centres: 21
Orphanages : 29Homes for Aged & Destitute : 06
Schools for Physically Challenged: 03Homes for Physically Challenged : 04
Crèches: 01Boarding Houses : 04
Counselling Centres : 02De-addiction Centre: 03
Social Centres : 02HIV / AIDS Centre: 0

Educational Institutions

Professional Colleges : 03Degree Colleges: 12
Parallel Colleges : 0Vocational / Technical Training Centres : 04
Higher Secondary / Junior Colleges : 35High Schools : 45
Upper Primary Schools: 38Lower Primary Schools:89
Nurseries / Pre-Primary Schools :02Presses & Media Centres : 0


The diocese of Kottar had known the Christian faith several centuries before the arrival of the Portuguese on the West Coast, as supported by the monuments discovered in Chinna Muttom, one of our parishes near Kanyakumari. The presence of St. Thomas Christians in Thiruvithancode, Kottar and other places in the district had also been attested by several missionaries under the Portuguese Padroado.

With the arrival of the Portuguese missionaries, a small section of the local people known as Paravas became Christians in 1536-1537. More than ten thousand fishermen known as 'Mukkuvas" in the coastal villages from Poovar (now in the archdiocese of Thiruvananthapuram) to Pallam were baptized in 1544 by the greatest post-apostolic missionary of the Church, St. Francis Xavier. The present Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier encompasses the church of St. Mary built by St. Francis Xavier.

With the efforts of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (founded in 1622) Christian missionaries began to concentrate on and evangelize the interior parts of the area.. Many from the Vellala and Nair communities these embraced the Christian faith and prominent among them was the martyr of the diocese, Devasahayam Pillai (Lazar) whose previous name was Nilakanda Pillai.

Nilakanda Pillai was born in the village of Nattalam in 1712 and was an official in the palace of King Marthanda Varma of Thiruvithancore. He was converted to Christian faith by the gentle efforts of a captured captain of the Dutch Navy, Eustachius De Lannoy who later became the Chief Admiral of the King's army. The king tried in vain to entice him back to Hinduism. Then, the enraged king ordered him to be arrested and shot to death. After enduring torture for three years, Devasahayam Pillai was taken to Kattadimalai, Alravaimozhi, and shot to death on January 14, 1752. His mortal remains were interred in the Church of St. Francis Xavier, which became the Cathedral of the Diocese of Kottar in 1930.

The 18th century witnessed the rapid growth of Christianity in the interior parts of the area, following large scale conversion of the people of Nadar community. Vencode and Karenkadu were the centres of evangelization and conversion.

With the creation of Verapoly- Vicariate, the Church of Kottar came under the dedicated supervision of the Carmelites. The Swiss-born, Carmelite Bishop Aloysius Maria Benziger was the architect of present diocese of Kottar. Thanks to his recommendation the southern part of Kollam diocese was formed as a new diocese, Kottar, on May 26, 1930, with Fr. Lawrence Pereira as its first bishop, the third Indian to become a Bishop. 

The Vatican appointed Rev. Thomas Roch Agniswamy, A Jesuit from Trichy, as successor to Bishop Lawrence Pereira in 1939. Evangelization activities received much impetus during the tenure of Bishop Agniswamy. A great number of parishes, mission stations and schools were established. His special interest in the promotion of vocations resulted in the founding of St. Aloysius Minor Seminary for the diocese and Tamil Nadu Xavier Mission Home for the missions in North India. Bishop Agniswamy ensured that by the time he left the Diocese in 1971, practically all the priests of the diocese were from within the area.

Most Rev. Marianus Arckiasamy from Kumbakonam succeeded Bishop Agniswamy in 1971, and was committed to the implementing the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Sixteen diocesan commissions were set up, specially focussing on Bible, Liturgy and Catechetics. Animation Centre, Pastoral and Youth Centers were established to spearhead pastoral activities. Formation of parish councils in more than fifty per cent of the parishes bear witness to his dedication. Conscious of the needs of the wider Church, he sent priests to serve in various capacities at national and international levels.

Fr. Leon A. Tharmaraj, who became the fourth bishop in 1989, was the first" son of the soil" to shepherd the diocese of Kottar. Bishop Leon faithfully carried forward the policies of his predecessor and went on further to make the diocese, truly the Church of the Christ's lay faithful concentrating on Basic Christian (Ecclesial) Communities, Pastoral and Parish councils and lay leadership in the mission of the diocese. Bishop Leon A. Tharmaraj outlined plans and programmes to make the parishes and the diocese self- sufficient and self- supporting. The diocese lost a true shepherd in the sudden death of Bishop Leon on January 16, 2007. 

Bishop Peter Remigius, who hails from the diocese, was transferred from the diocese of Kumbakonam to Kottar and installed on August 24, 2007. To accelerate the mission work, he raised many mission centres into full-fledged parishes. People's participation in the mission of the church of Kottar was given continued importance. Parish and Diocesan pastoral councils  were strengthened.

The process for the beatification of the Servant of God, Devasahayam Pillai commenced in 1993 and concluded on September 7, 2008. The beatification of the servant of God Devasahayam Pillai took place on 2nd of December 2012.

From 95,000 people in 25 parishes ministered by 32 priests at the time of its formation in 1930, the vibrant Kottar Church, after 84 years of its life of ardent social and missionary work by the diocesan pastors along with the cooperation received from various dedicated religious priests, brothers, sisters and lay-faithful, witnessed its presence in 5,43,789 faithful in 181 parishes in 2014. The demands for spiritual welfare of the faithful, social as well as economic development, paved the way for approaching the Holy See to bifurcate the diocese of Kottar.

The erection of the new diocese under the name Kuzhithurai was announced by His Holiness, Pope Francis. Msgr.  Jerome Dhas Varuvel S.D.B., a native priest of Kottar diocese became its first pastor. The consecration of the Msgr. Jerome Dhas Varuvel S.D.B. was held on 24th February 2015 .  The new diocese set its journey of faith and development under the leadership of its new Pastor.

The Holy Father Pope Francis appointed Fr. Nazarene Soosai, a priest of Kottar diocese, as the new Bishop of Kottar Diocese. Bishop Nazarene Soosai was consecrated on the 29th of June 2017 at the Bishop’s House campus. With his motto “In the mind of Christ”, the new Bishop made it known to the priests and the people of the diocese that the need was to build on the rich and value based foundation, evaluate our functioning with open minds and to work in participatory manner to realize God’s Kingdom.

As on date, the diocese of Kottar delights itself in the Lord with its 93 parishes, 217 diocesan priests, 33 religious priests, 15 religious brothers - 470 sisters and 2,62,899 lay-faithful living in harmony with the brothers and sisters of other religions in the District of Kanniayakumari. 

Pilgrim Centres

Saints / Blessed:  

Former Bishops

Right Rev. Peter Remigius
Bishop Emeritus Kottar
Personal Details
Priestly Ordination:18-Apr-1966
Episcopal Ordination:3-Jan-1990

Tel(P): 04652-233927,09443131927
Email(P): peterremigius@gmail.com
Contact Details
Bishop’s House, P.B. No. 17, Nagercoil, Kanyakumari Dt. - 629 001 (Tamilnadu)
Tel(O): 04652-27 83 43, 27 91 52
Fax : 27 85 70
Email : kottardiocese@yahoo.co.in
Most Rev. Leon A. TharmarajBishop1989-2007
Most Rev. Marianus ArockiaswamyBishop1971-1987
Most Rev. Thomas Roch AgniswamiBishop1938-1971
Most Rev. Lawrence PereiraBishop1930-1938