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Diocese in northern India, part of the ecclesiastical Province of Agra. Its boundaries comprise the civil Province of the Punjab, except two small portions assigned to Kashmer and Agra respectively. It also includes the native state of Bahawulpur. Down to the sixteenth century Christianity seems never to have come in touch with the Punjab. During the reign of Akbar, and in answer to his invitation, a mission of Jesuits from Goa visited the Mogul court, spending part of their time at Fatehpur-Sikri and part at Lahore (1579-81). Akbar's successor, Jahangir, allowed some Portuguese Jesuits to build a church and establish a mission at Lahore, and assigned a salary for their maintenance. This favor was, however, canceled by the next Mogul emperor, Shah Jahan, who, being a strict Moslem, withdrew the pension and ordered the church to be pulled down. Some fragments of it still remained when Lahore was visited by the French traveler Thévenot in 1665; but these have since been totally effaced, and from that time all traces of Christianity disappeared from the place. About 1637 the Holy See established the Vicariate of the Deccan, which soon afterwards (1669) became the Vicariate of the Great Mogul, with an indefinite extension over the whole of the Mogul empire. But missionary enterprise was limited to the southern parts such as Surat, Golconda, Bijapur, etc., nothing being done for the Punjab. From 1720 this vicariate came to be centered in Bombay, and so acquired that name. In 1784 the northern portion, including the Punjab, was divided off and attached to the mission of Tibet, which had been assigned to Italian Capuchins in 1703. The Prefecture Apostolic of Tibet developed into the Vicariate of Agra in 1822. It continued to include Lahore till 1880, when the Punjab was divided from Agra and made into a separate vicariate. In 1882 the limits of the Vicariate of Lahore were more exactly defined and made to include Kashmer. In 1886, when the Indian hierarchy was established, Agra was elevated into an archbishopric with the Diocese of Lahore as one of its suffragans. In 1887 Kashmer and Kafiristan were separated into a new prefecture Apostolic. Down to 1889 the Lahore diocese was in charge of the Italian Capuchins, but in that year it was taken over by the Belgian province of the same order in whose hands it now remains. The following is a list of the bishops who have governed Lahore:

  • Paul Tosi, Bishop of Rhodiopolis, Vicar Apostolic of Patna, took charge of the new vicariate on its formation in 1880 and became the first Bishop of Lahore in 1886;
  • Symphorian Mouard, transferred from the Seychelles in 1888;
  • Emmanuel van den Bosch, 1891, transferred to Agra in 1892;
  • Godfrey Pelckmans, 1892;
  • Fabian Anthony Eestermans, from 1905.

Out of a total of 16,000,000 inhabitants the Catholic population is calculated at about 5700. The diocese is served by 38 Capuchin fathers and contains 30 churches and chapels. Of educational institutions for boys there are the following: St. Anthony's High School, Lahore, for Europeans and Eurasians, with 108 pupils; Anglo-vernacular school, Dalwal, with 280 native pupils; St. Francis's primary school, Lahore, under the Tertiary Brothers of St. Francis of Assisi, with thirty orphans ; elementary schools at three other places with 300 pupils. Agricultural school orphanage at Maryabad, under the same tertiaries, with thirty orphans. Educational establishments for girls: two under the Nuns of Jesus and Mary, namely, at Lahore with sixty boarders and sixty day-scholars, and at Sialkot with sixty-seven pupils; four under the Sisters of Charity, namely, St. Mary's Convent, Multan, with about eighty-six pupils, St. Joseph's Orphanage, Lahore, with ninety native pupils, including a foundling home and high class school for native girls, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Dalhousie, with forty-six pupils; and St. Vincent's convent dispensary, school, and catechumenate at Khushpur—two under the Franciscan Nuns of the Propagation of the Faith, namely, Convent School with catechumenate at Maryabad, with seventy-five children, and a lunatic asylum for females at Lahore. Total, 5 high schools, 15 middle or primary schools, 2 industrial schools, 5 orphanages, 1 home for abandoned children, 6 free dispensaries, and 1 lunatic asylum . The missionary centres are at Lahore, Multan, Firozpur, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Dalhousie, Sialkot, Mean-Meer, Maryabad, Adah, Sahowala, Khushpur, Francisabad, and Lyallpur. A new cathedral at Lahore, in the Romanesque style, and of notable size and magnificence, built at a total cost of about four lacs of rupees, was consecrated 19 November, 1907.

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