1. Rt. Rev. Dr. Zenobio Maria Benucci, OFM Cap


Rt. Rev. Dr. Zenobio Maria Benucci of Florence, Capuchin, was nominated Prefect Apostolic of the Congo Mission in 1820, and was consecrated Bishop of Henna in Rio de Janeiro [Brazil] and Vicar Apostolic of Agra in 1823. Arrived at Agra on April 16, 1824 and died on June 23, the same year.

After ninety four days of being at sea, Msgr. Benucci landed safely at Calcutta on October 8, 1823. He then moved on to Chandernagore on October 25, the first mission foothold.

In January 1823, he visited all the priests and stations on the way to Agra, such as Bhagalpur, Patna, Chunar and Lucknow, arriving at mission headquarters on April 11 or 12, 1824. He suddenly fell ill on June 20, and within three days on June 23, 1824 at 9 a.m. he passed away at the early age of 46.

2. Rt. Rev. Dr. Antony Pezzoni, OFM Cap (1826-1841)

Rt. Rev. Dr. Antony Pezzoni of Lodi, Capuchin, was made Bishop of Esbona and Vicar Apostolic of Agra in February 1826. He left Rome on February 20, 1826 but only on June 9, he could embark from Bordeaux, a vessel bound for India. He landed in Calcutta on October 21 and reached Agra in December 1826. Fr. Adeodatus of Perugia was appointed Vicar General. Msgr. Pezzoni had to undergo sufferings and therefore he had requested the Prefect of Propaganda, Cardinal Cappellari on January 1, 1830 to recall him from India which was not acceded to. In 1841 the Prelate returned to his homeland and died at Lugano, Switzerland, on October 3, 1844.

In 1826 he bought a house at Agra, which is now the Archbishop's House. He also built a Church at Mhow in Rajasthan Mission. In 1829 on December 29th, he consecrated Rt. Rev. Julius Caesar Scotti at Sardhana in the Church built by Begum Sumroo. He extended the old Cathedral [Our Lady of Help] in 1835 and also bought a piece of land and a house in Shimla for a European Orphanage. In 1840 the Mission of Agra acquired a land and bought a house in Dehradun where Msgr. Carli built a Church.

3. Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Antony Borghi, OFM Cap


Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Antony Borghi of Leghorn, Capuchin, Coadjutor of the Vicar Apostolic of Agra in 1839, became the Vicar Apostolic of Agra in 1841. He resigned in 1849 when he was appointed Bishop of Cortona in Tuscany where he died on July 31, 1851 aged 49.

During the eight years of administration, owing to his zeal and energy, the Vicariate of Agra was endowed with the following educational institutions:

a) St. Mary's Convent School at Agra towards the end of 1842 and entrusted it to the Religious Sisters of Jesus and Mary who had arrived from Europe on November 11, 1842.

b) On April 1, 1845, founded at Sardhana the College of
St. Peter and the Orphanage of St. Paul for Europeans and transferred the same to Jumna Bagh, Agra.

c) The verandah and terrace adorning the Archbishop's Palace at Agra were greatly enlarged.

d) On April 5, the corner stone of St. Patrick's Orphanage, Agra, was laid by Sr. Mary, St. Teresa, Provincial Superior of the Religious Sisters of Jesus and Mary in the presence of Bishop, the Clergy and the faithful of Agra.

e) He founded the magnificent structure of the present
St. Peter's College, Agra for the service of the East India Company. Fr. Bonaventure was its architect.

f) On Sunday, October 10, 1848 a new Church in the Military Cantonment of Nurnelah, Agra, was blessed by Bishop and consecrated under the patronage of
St. Patrick. It was the first Church dedicated to the Apostle of Ireland in the North West Province of India.

h) On New Year's Day, 1848, the new Cathedral of Agra was consecrated. Fr. Bonaventure of Florence was the Architect and Mr. Rebello directed the works with great zeal.

4. Rt. Rev. Dr. Cajetan Carli, OFM Cap (1849-1856)

Rt. Rev. Dr. Cajetan Carli was born at Pistoia [Tuscany] in 1811. He arrived in Bombay in February 1841. He was consecrated Titular Bishop of Halmira on March 5, 1843 by Bishop Borghi in the old historic Cathedral of Agra [Akbar's Church] and Co-adjutor to the vicar Apostolic of Agra, with the right to succession.

On February 7, 1845, a Decree dividing the Vicariate of Agra into Agra and Patna was received and Rt. Rev. Carli was appointed the first Vicar Apostolic of Patna. He declined this appointment. Fr. Anastasius Hartmann, the Chaplain of Gwalior, was then appointed the Vicar Apostolic of Patna.

Rt. Rev. Carli resigned in 1855 and returned to Rome where he died in 1887 at the age of 76.

5. Rt. Rev. Dr. Ignatius Persico, OFM Cap (1856-1861)

Rt. Rev. Dr. Ignatius Persico of Naples, Capuchin, came to India in 1846. He was appointed the Administrator Apostolic of Agra Mission in the same year. He became Vicar Apostolic of Agra in 1856 and resigned in 1861.

In 1854 Msgr. Persico founded at Mussoorie, St. George's College in the estate bought by Msgr. Carli. In 1894
Dr. Emmanuel Van den Bosh handed it over to the Brothers of St. Patrick after having been for forty years under the management of the Capuchin Fathers.

In 1856 from the mission funds, a house was bought in Dehradun to be used both as Chapel and Priests' House. He also bought the first pipe organ for the Agra Cathedral from Belgium.

In 1866 he was delegated by the Holy See to the United States of America and on March 20, 1870, he was appointed Bishop of Savannah, North America. From 1874 he was sent by the Holy See to Canada, South India and Rome on important missions. He died in Rome on December 7, 1905.

6. Rt. Rev. Dr. Angelicus Bedenik, OFM Cap (1861-1865)

Rt. Rev. Dr. Angelicus Bedenik of Kopreinitz, Capuchin was born on April 3, 1808.

During his time the following landmark events took place:

a) 1861 - The Church of the Immaculate Conception at Anarkali, Lahore, was built. It served as a pro-Cathedral up to November 1908.

b) 1862 - The building of St. Joseph's Orphanage and Convent for native girls and nuns at Agra was constructed.

c) 1862 - The Mission of Agra opened a School for girls at Elysium House, Shimla.

d) 1865 - Very Rev. Dr. Keegan, secular priest, built the present St. Mary's Church, Delhi, from public subscriptions, which took the place of a thatched building used until then for Divine Service.

e) The Mission of Agra built St. Michael's Church at Manor House, Mussoorie, and the Church of Sabathu in Shimla.

Other than these, he has also built Churches, Mission stations, Convents and Parish houses but now they are in part of the other northern dioceses. He died in Agra on November 2, 1865 at the age of 58.

7. Most Rev. Dr. Michael Angelo Jacopi, OFM Cap


The Most Rev. Dr. Michael Angelo Jacopi of Seravezza, Italy, Capuchin, the FIRST ARCHBISHOP OF AGRA, came to India as an Apostolic Missionary in 1841 and he became Vicar Apostolic of Agra on February 8, 1868. He attended the I Vatican Counciland returned to India in 1871.

On September 1, 1886 Pope Leo XIII made the Vicariate Apostolic of Agra a Metropolitan See with an Archbishop as Metropolitan. Most Rev. Jacopi was honoured by Pope Leo XIII with the title "Domestic Prelate and Assistant to the Pontifical Throne". He died on October 14, 1891, in Mussoorie at St. Francis Monastery, which he himself had built. He was buried in the Cathedral at Agra.

In 1872 the Chapel of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart attached to the Convent of Jesus and Mary at Sialkot was built, as well as the Holy Family Chapel at Tundla.

In 1874, on 11th January, on the feast of the Holy Name, he laid the first stone of the Church of the Sacred Heart at Mathura.

The Most Rev. Jacopi built at Agra, the two wings of his palace housing the Refectory and Library at one side, and the secretariat quarters and archives on the other side.

8. Most Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Van Den Bosh, OFM Cap


The Most Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Van Den Bosh of Antwerp, Belgium, Capuchin, was promoted to the Archbishopric of Agra in January 1892. In 1894-95 the building now known as St. Francis Convent, Agra, was partly built and partly reformed. In 1897 he purchased the Begum's Palace at Sardhana, with annexed garden.

9. Most Rev. Dr. Charles Gentili, OFM Cap (1898-1916)

The Most Rev. Dr. Charles Gentili of Bertinoro, Italy, Capuchin, was transferred to the Arch Episcopal See of Agra on August 27, 1898 and died in Agra on December 30, 1916.

The magnificent High Altar in the Cathedral of Agra, was presented by Messrs. A. John and Co., and was solemnly consecrated by the Most Rev. Dr. Charles Gentili in December 1899.

The Most Rev. Gentili paved with black and white Carrara marble slabs the whole floor of the Cathedral in Agra and replaced the six plastered altars with marble ones. The altar dedicated to St. John the Baptist, with the marble statue of the 'Pieta' on it, was presented by Messrs. A. John and Co. of Agra.

Fr. Hyacinth began the foundation of the new building of St. Francis' Press at Agra on November 19, 1907. Fr. Peter Mary directed the masonry work.

In 1909 the steeple of St. Patrick's Church, Agra Cantt., was built by Rev. Fr. Sylvester.

The Grotto of Lourdes in the Cathedral grounds at Agra was started in February 1910 with the generous donations from Geo A. John Esq.

On Sunday, April 10, 1910, the new chime of bells was blessed by Archbishop Gentili. These were got from Italy to replace the old bells in the Cathedral steeple.

In 1912, The Franciscan Sisters of Bertinoro opened
St. Francis' Convent and Foundling Home at Agra.

10. Most Rev. Dr. Raphael Bernicchioni, OFM Cap


The Most Rev. Dr. Raphael Bernichioni was born in Figline, Tuscano, Italy on March 16, 1854. His baptismal name was Angelo. In honour of Archangel Raphael, he was called Raphael. He studied Philosophy and Theology in the monastery of Arezzo.

He arrived in Agra in 1884. For a few months, Archbishop Michael Angelo Jacopi sent him to Sardhana, after which he joined St. Peter's College, Agra, as Rector in 1894, where he served for almost 20 years. He was consecrated the Archbishop of Agra on December 27, 1917.

He was the one who laid the foundation stone for
St. Mary's Church at Pratappura, Agra on April 5, 1920 and blessed it on the same date in 1923.

11. Most Rev. Dr. Evangelist Vanni, OFM Cap (1937-1955)

The Most Rev. Dr. Evangelist Vanni succeeded Archbishop Raphael Bernichioni. He was consecrated at Mussorie. He took keen interest in promoting education. He established many schools and charitable institutions like orphanages, chapels, churches, religious houses, and the houses of the Missionary Brothers of St. Francis of Mt. Poinsur, at Mathura and Tundla. The cross in front of the Cathedral House was erected in honour of the Episcopal Silver Jubilee of the Most Rev. Dr. E. Vanni, OFM Cap (1916 - 1941).

12. Most Rev. Dr. Dominic Athaide, OFM Cap (1956-1982)

The present history of the Archdiocese starts with the Most Rev. Dominic Athaide, was the first Indian Archbishop - Capuchin missionary working in Aden and Yemen. He was appointed Archbishop of Agra in 1956. As he took charge, Agra was bifurcated into Meerut and Agra. The Co-adjutor Archbishop went to Meerut and along with him all the Italian missionaries, diocesan priests and seminarians, except Brother Thomas Paramundayil who stayed back in Agra.

In the twelve districts of the Archdiocese, there were three parishes, besides Tundla, Mathura and the two convents, namely the Convent of Jesus and Mary and St. Francis Convent, Agra.

Archbishop Athaide invited the Sisters of Mt. Mary from Bandra, Bombay to St. Patrick's Parish, Agra Cantt and the Carmelite Sisters of Trivandrum to Mathura, and permitted them to start Nursery Schools in the Church compound. Later, both the convents and schools were shifted out. The Archdiocese had only one School, i.e. St. Peter's College, Agra, with 300 students [15 orphans] in the boarding. Fr. Thomas Paramundayil was the lone diocesan priest, ordained in 1961, the rest were about ten Indian Capuchins working in Agra. The first batch of five priests, namely Frs. Jose Maliekal, K.C. Thomas, Jose Muttath, George Thykkattil and John Pachelli Fernandes were ordained in October 1969. In 1962, Aligarh and Bulandshahr missions were opened. Sisters were asked to purchase the land and build Schools - priests were appointed Chaplains. The Sisters and Priests were living in rented buildings. All mission stations such as Aligarh, Bulandshahar, Tundla, Mathura, Hathras, Bharatpur, Dholpur, Etah, Etawah etc., were all in rented accommodations. Financial constraints hampered the purchase of the land and construction. It was still poorer in human resources. His Grace invited the Congregation of the Franciscan Clarist Sisters of Trichur Province, belonging to the Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala to work in Agra as early as in 1960. Missionaries of Charity at Agra 1961 and at Aligarh 1981, FSJ at Tundla 1970, MSA at Hathras 1972 and Holy Family at Bharatpur 1976.

Archbishop Athaide started the Diocesan Minor Seminary in 1964. Today, after more than fifty years, it has produced more than seventy priests.

At his invitation the Changanacherry Diocese sent Fathers to work in certain districts of Western Uttar Pradesh. Thus in 1975 the 'Etawah Mission' comprising of three civil districts were handed over to the Archdiocese of Changanacherry.

Archbishop Athaide passed away on June 26, 1982 and is laid to rest inside the Cathedral Church and the following year, the Capuchins also left the Diocese, leaving it to the Diocesan clergy.

Very Rev. Fr. Lawrence, OFM Cap was appointed as Vicar Capitular (Diocesan Administrator) from June 1982 to January 1984.

13. Most Rev. Dr. Cecil DeSa (1984 - 1998)

The Most Rev. Dr. Cecil DeSa, the then Bishop of Lucknow, was transferred to the Archdiocese of Agra which fell vacant in June 1982 at the demise of the Most Rev. Dr. Dominic Athaide, OFM Cap. He was installed as the Archbishop of Agra on 22 January, 1984.

The Archdiocese of Agra further progressed much under the new shepherd as he had vast experience in the Lucknow mission for almost 13 years. He was a good formator and guide for the priests. He was exemplary, leading an austere and simple life. He made a lot of contributions to the Archdiocese by encouraging priests to start new institutions and open new mission stations.

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was renovated in 1986 in preparation for the Centenary Celebration of the Establishment of the Vicariate Apostolic of Agra into a Metropolitan See. The celebrations culminated in the concelebrated Pontifical High Mass offered by the Papal Nuncio with bishops and priests on December 7, 1986.

During his tenure, an oval shaped and well-designed boundary wall was built around the Akbar's Church, which not only added a royal look but also spoke of the eminence of sixteenth century Mughal Ruler Akbar the great, a benefactor of the missions.

Another landmark was shifting St. Lawrence of Brindisi Minor Seminary from the Cathedral compound to the well-furnished and newly extended building in St. Mary's Church compound, Pratappura on February 26, 1991. He made a substantial contribution to the Archdiocese and of course to the whole of the Agra Region, by his initiative to start a Spiritual Orientation Centre and a Philosophate in Etmadpur which was materilised on August 12, 1997.

The following institutions were also established during his tenure: St. Mary's Convent School, Agra; St. Fidelis
Sr. Sec. School, Aligarh; St. John's Sr. Sec. School, Firozabad; St. Dominic's Sr. Sec. School, Mathura; Nishkalanka Mata School, Jaith; St. Michael's School, Aunpnagar; St. Joseph's School, Gohanpur and St. Theresa's School, Kosi Kalan. Nishkalanka Mata Hostel for boys was also established. Health Service Centres like, Fatima Hospital, Agra
were also put in place. Religious women DSH at Kosi; Canossa FDCC Agra and Firozabad; FCC at Noida Provincialate; UMI at Greater Noida; BS Sisters at Greater Noida, establishing of St. Joseph's School in G.Noida and St. Mary's Church, Noida. Besides these, Religious Congregations of Fathers at Badaun and Jahangirabad and Sisters at various places started their own Schools and Social Work Centres.

On the retirement of Most Rev. Cecil DeSa, Very Rev.
Fr. Jose Maliekal was appointed as Diocesan Administrator from April 1998 to January 1999.

Archbishop Cecil DeSa passed away on October 27, 2006 and was laid to rest inside the Cathedral Church.

14. Most Rev. Dr. Vincent Michael Concessao (1999-2000)

The Agra Metropolitan See had fallen vacant with the retirement of Most Rev. Cecil DeSa in 1998. The Holy See transferred the then Auxiliary Bishop of Delhi, Most Rev. Vincent M. Concessao as the new Archbishop of Agra on November 28, 1998. The installation took place on January 21, 1999.

He was admired greatly for his personality that radiated joy and peace. He endeared himself to all during the short term of one and a half year. His amiability and simplicity of life made people regard him as a man of God.

His contribution to the diocese was the purchasing fifteen acres of land for UPSIDC at Firozabad, inviting Satya Seva Sisters to work in Gohanpur, establishing St. Joseph's School and FSJ Convent in Kasganj and FCC Convent at Anupnagar. At the demise of Archbishop Alan de Lastic of Delhi, Archbishop Vincent was appointed as the Archbishop of Delhi in 2000.

15. Most Rev. Dr. Oswald Gracias (2000-2006)

The Most Rev. Dr. Oswald Gracias' transfer to Agra brought new vitality and hope to the Archdiocese. He was installed on November 23, 2000. During his tenure as Archbishop, he was elected President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India. As a well-known Canonist he handled ecclesiastical and ecclesial affairs with great adeptness and aplomb. Archbishop Oswald's total committment and dedication enabled the Archdiocese to acquire land and build the Jubilee Memorial Wing of St. Francis Sr. Sec. School, Hathras.

He had great affection and concern for the Archdiocese. He remains very close to the heart of priests and religious of the Archdiocese. During his tenure the following institutions and Religious Houses were established: A Convent for PSOL Sisters and of Divya Prabha, Baluganj; FC Sisters at Ajaynagar; Helpers of Mary at Khoda; Lourdu Mata Church, Achalpur; St. Francis Xavier Church, Etah; Savio Nav Jeevan Bal Bhavan, Aligarh; Our Lady of Rosary Church, Bastar; Our Lady of Pilar Church, Dholpur; St. Anthony's Church, Khora etc. In 2006 he was transferred back to Bombay Archdiocese. Later he was created a Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 and was also made a member of the close Consultors of Pope Francis in 2013.

Very Rev. Fr. Raphy Manjaly was appointed then as Administrator of the Archdiocese from 2006 to April 2007.

16. Most Rev. Dr. Albert D'Souza (2007 - 2020)

The Most Rev. Dr. Albert D'Souza was installed as Archbishop of Agra on April 11, 2007. He had been Bishop of Lucknow for 13 years. Having taken charge of the Archdiocese, he began his mission work ardently. He was elected for three consecutive terms as the CBCI Secretary General and guided the reorganizing and restructuring of the CBCI Centre. Some of his achievements till 2020 December are as follows:

a) Renovation of the Cathedral and Church of Pieta (Akbar's Church): Under the guidance of Rev. Fr. John Ferreira, and the then Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Joe Thykkattil, the Cathedral was given a facelift. The Akbar's Church was renovated and renamed as the Church of Pieta.

b) St. Albert's Monastery: The Archbishop had a great desire of having a monastery in the Archdiocese for prayer and spiritual renewal for the priests and religious. The land adjacent to St. Francis Xavier's Regional Seminary (Masih Vidyapeeth), Etmadpur, was identified for the monastery. On August 3, 2014, the building was blessed. Later it was converted into a Cloistered Poor Clare Colettines - PCC Convent in 2018.

c) New Religious Communities: The men and women religious communities of different Congregations joined hands with the Archdiocese in the last one decade, namely: Satyaseva Community, Agra; CFMSS Sisters, Bastar; PSOL Sisters, UPSIDC, Firozabad; MSMM Sisters, Dholpur; FCC Sisters, Nanpur; FSAG Sisters, Kiraoli; SHM Sisters, Kaulakha; CCR Sisters, Kheda Khush Khabar; FSJ (Provincilate) Sisters, Etmadpur; OP Sisters, KNEUS, G. Noida; FSM Sisters, Fatehabad; UMI Sisters, Jaupura; FSLG Sisters, Ansal Township, Agra; MSST Sisters, G. Noida; Cloistered Collettines, Etmadpur; MSA Sisters, Pilipokhar; FDZ Sisters, Sadabad; FSLG Sisters, Gulaothi; FSMA Sisters, Runkuta; SSS Fathers, Noida; OCD Fathers, Ladamda, Agra, IMS Fathers of Delhi Province; Franciscan Brothers; SFSC Sisters in Greater Noida.

d) The New Institutions: Jesus and Mary Convent School, G. Noida; Alpha Play School, Mathura; St. John's School, UPSIDC, Firozabad; Alphonsa Institute for Special Education, Agra; St. Xavier's School, Dholpur; St. Peter's School, Kiraoli; St. Thomas School, Shastripuram;
St. Clare's School, Unit II, Kaulakha; St. Mary's School, Achalpur; St. Fidelis School, Kheda Khush Khabar;
St. John Paul II School, Fatehabad; St. Francis School, Sadabad and St. Peter's School, Rohta, Agra.

e) A Few Churches that have come up are: Fatima Church, Ajay Nagar; St. Michael's Church, Anup Nagar;
St. Jude's Church, Kaulakha; Our Lady of Rosary Church, Bastar; Nishkalanka Mata Church, Jaith and St. Joseph's Church, G. Noida.

f) Land Purchased during the tenure of the Archbishop: Kheda Khush Khabar, Aligarh; Imlot, Aligarh; Bulandshahr; Shastripuram, Sunari, Jaupura, Rohta, Kaulakha, Kiraoli, Agra; Aduki, Mathura; Jaith Village; Bastar Village; Achalpur; Sadabad and Fatehabad.

g) Vianney Home: A home for the retired priests was built under the guidance of Rev. Fr. Sebastian Pantaladi.

h) The extension of the buildings: The extension of New Hall for refectory with accomodation capacity for 70 people was undertaken under the guidance of Rev.
Fr. Sebastian Pantaladi. An auditorium was built as an extension for the Minor Seminary. Expansion of KNEUS building at Greater Noida, Yoga Hall and Auditorium at St. Peter's College, Agra.

He exhibited his love for the poor by launching housing schemes for the homelsess and sponsored scholarships for higher education and professional training. He started
St. Joseph's Kitchen to provide free ration to the hungry through the funding of Caritas Agra. The headquarters of Non-formal education of Archdiocese Agra, ACDSS, was relocated in the new campus-'Ashirwad'.

The amalgamation of institutional finances and centralized administration have enabled the Archdiocese to pool the resources and channelize the funds on priority basis. Kudos to Archbishop Albert D'Souza for his determination and foresightedness. His episcopacy ended in December 2020.

17. The Most Rev. Raphy Manjaly

Archbishop Raphy took over the reigns of the Archdiocese with his Installation ceremony on 7 January 2021.