Christianity in India

About 2.5% population in India are Christians. The first Christians were Jews and its beginning were seen as Jewish. Goa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Manipur and Mizoram were the major centres of Christians in India. They are majorly divided into Catholic, Christians and Protestants. Also they are divided into Syrian Church, Anglican Church and others. They differ in language, social customs and economic prosperity.

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. There are distinct accounts of Christian travelling in India. However, advent of Christianity from early period to modern India saw certain changes.

Early Period

It was Saint Thomas who introduced Christianity in India. He arrived in North Western part of India, and baptized King Gondophares and his brother, thereby heralding the beginning of Christianity in India. When Saint Thomas arrived in Kerala, he had established the Seven Churches and evangelized in the present day Kerala and Tamil Nadu.


The early conversions were the Jews, which made the same language adaptation very 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 Saint Christian community further strengthened by the Knanaya colonies, Manichaenism followers, Persian immigrants of 4th century AD. Nasranis were one of the early Christian Jewish sects in India. Local rulers of Kerala gave the St. Thomas various rights which were written on copper plate. The Bishops coming from Syria maintained their identity during the first few years and later amalgamated with the prevailing forms of Christianity.

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.  However, with the decline in the power of Portuguese, other British and Christian organizations gained influence.

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