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Christianity in India

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Christianity in India

Christianity was introduced to India by Thomas the Apostle, who visited Kerala in 52 AD. Currently Christianity is the third largest religion in India, after Hinduism and Islam, constituting around 2.3% of total Indian population. Find here the advent of Christianity in India from the early period to the modern days.

Early Period

It was Saint Thomas who introduced Christianity in India in 52 A.D. Saint Thomas then arrived in North West India, and baptized King Gondophares and his brother, thereby heralding the beginning of Christianity in India. When Saint Thomas arrived in Kerala and established the Seven Churches and evangelized in present day Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The early converts were Jews, as Saint Thomas was a Jew himself and had the same language making conversion easier. Even before the start of Christian Era, India had good trade relations with Central Asia, Mediterranian and Middle east, which led to these Christian Merchants settling in India. Around the year 300, David of Basra made many conversions.

Medieval period

The Bishops coming from Syria maintained their identity during the first few years and later amalgamated with the prevailing forms of Christianity. Nasranis were one of the early Christian Jewish sects in India.

Modern Period

During the modern Era it was the French Missionaries to first touch the Indian soil. First establishing its foot in Gujarat, they moved to other parts of India and made large amount of conversions. Portuguese missionaries had reached the Malabar Coast in the late 15th century and made contact with the St Thomas Christians in Kerala and sought to introduce the Catholicism among them.

The period saw a great amount of foreign missionaries making conversions in India. The Portuguese colonial Government in Goa offered rice donations to poor and military support to the rulers for the purpose of spreading Christianity. The present state of Goa has a substantial population of about 80% Roman Catholics. In 1321, the French Dominican friar Jordanus Catalani of Severac (in South-Western France) landed in a place called Bhatkal near Mangalore and established a missionary station there. Many locals were converted to Christianity by him.

In 16th century, the high class Hindus were converted to Christianity by Portuguese, referred as Portuguese Christians. These Portuguese Christians adopted the name East Indians. Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra had more population of Protestant Christians than the Catholics. It is North Eastern India that retains the highest number of Christian population.
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