Agra Archdiocese consists of the following districts in Uttar Pradesh: Agra, Aligarh,
Auraiya, Budaun, Bulandshahr, Etah, Etawah, Farrukabad, Firozabad, Gautambudha Nagar,
Hathras, Kannauj, Mainpuri, Mathura and in Rajasthan, Bharatpur and Dholpur. The
Emperor Akbar, wishing to have some learned Christian priests at his Court, invited
the Jesuits from their College at Goa. The first Church work with the Moghul was
thus formed by Blessed Rudolf Aquaviva (later a martyr at Goa), Anthony Monserrate
and Francis Henriquez, who arrived at the Moghul Court, then at Fatehpur Sikri in
1580. A second and a third Church work followed. The Jesuits enjoyed the patronage
of Akbar and his son Jahangir; but under Shah Jehan and Aurangzeb this disappeared.
Though there were no Christian congregations of importance in Moghul India, there
were a number of individuals who wielded considerable influences in Court and elsewhere.
When in 1773 the Jesuits were suppressed, two Carmelite Fathers from Bombay succeeded
them in Agra, who in turn, were replaced by the Capuchins after a very short while.
By a decree of the Sacred Congregation, dated May 17, 1784, the Vicariate - Apostolic
of the Great Moghul was constituted. The history of the Agra Archdiocese under the
Capuchins was closely linked with their work in Tibet. Early in 1708, four Capuchins,
starting from Kathmandu, reached Lhasa after two months. More Capuchins followed
them and took up their residence at Lhasa until April 20, 1745, when, owing to relentless
persecution by the Tibetan Priesthood, they had to leave Tibet, and return to Nepal.
Thus the capuchin Church work in Lhasa came to an end. But the Church work continued
its existence in Nepal until 1768. The whole chain of Capuchin stations, embracing
the greater part of North India from Chandernagore to Lhasa, from Sind to Bengal,
from the Himalayas to Narbada river, now the Diocese of Ajmer - Jaipur, Allahabad,
Indore, Jhansi, Lahore, Lucknow, Meerut, Patna, Varanasi, Delhi, Jalandar, Simla
- Chandigarh, Bijnor and Jammu & Kashmir, (formerly Rawalpindi) all came to be known
as the Tibet Hindustan Church work. The Cathedrals of Agra, Ajmer, Allahabad, Delhi,
Lahore (before the new one), Madras, Patna and Simla, are symbols and monuments
of the untiring zeal of the Capuchins for the extension of the faith and the progress
of the Catholic Church in India. The prefecture Apostolic of Tibet-Hindustan was
in 1820, constituted into the Vicaritae Apostolic of Agra, with Msgr. Maria Zenobio
Benucci, ofm cap. as its first Vicar Apostolic, who was succeeded by Msgrs. Anthony
Pezzoni and Anthony Borghi. In 1845, the Agra Mission was divided into two separate
vicariates: Agra and Patna.In 1846 the Kingdom of Tibet was entrusted to the Society
of the Foreign Missions. In 1861 the districts of Allahabad, Oudh, Kanpur, Bundlekhand,
Sagar and Bhopal were added to the Patna Vicariate, and in 1880 the districts of
Kumaon and Almorah. In the same year, the Vicariate Apostolic of the Punjab was
erected and separated from Agra. Finally in 1886 when the Catholic Hierarchy of
India was established, the Vicariate Apostolic of Agra became a Metropolitan See
from which the Prefecture Apostolic of Rajputana sprung in 1913, and in 1956, the
nine northern districts were formed into the Diocese of Meerut. Thus the Archdiocese
of Agra is rightly called the Mother Diocese of all the Dioceses of North India.