History

The Diocese of Salem comprises of civil districts of Salem and Namakkal. In 1623 Southern Kongunadu, part of Salem District, under Madurai Nayakkars accepted Christianity, through Fr. Robert De Nobili, S.J. and his successors, the Portuguese Jesuits of the Madurai Mission. About 1654, the Italian Jesuits of the Mysore mission had a residence near Hosur.

In 1687, the Mysore Mission laboured in the entire area of the present diocese. Fr. De Cunha died in 1711 at Kapiganathi near Hosur. Even after the suppression of their Society, the Jesuits under the jurisdiction of Cranganore, worked to the last in the field.

In 1785, during Tippu Sulttan’s rule, Msgr. Champenois, Superior of the Malabar Mission, was entrusted by Rome with the Mysore Mission, which took care of Salem. He was the first Bishop to visit Salem. Salem Mission was brought under the Brirtish rule, and he left in charge there “Fr. Abbe Dubois”, who strove to restore the devastated mission. From 1797, Kartenaras from Cranganore intruded into Salem till they left about 1833.

The area continued to depend on the Coromandal mission. Later it came under the Vicariate Apostolic of Pondicherry, which in 1886 became an Archdiocese. This set up continued till 1930 except for Hosur Taluk which had been entrusted from 1861 to the area of Mysore and for the southeast which was joined in 1899 to the Diocese of Kumbakonam.

On May 26, 1930 the Diocese of Salem was erected from the parts of Salem District and from parts under the jurisdiction of Pondicherry Diocese (6 parishes), Kumbakonam Diocese (3 parishes), Mysore Diocese (1 parish) and in 1943 the Western portion of Mettur Taluk (2 parishes) was added.

In 1949, the Diocese of Salem was entrusted to an Indian, its second Bishop Rt. Rev. V.S. Selvanather. Diocese of Dharmapuri was bifurcated from the Diocese of Salem according to the communique released on February 28,1997. The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Joseph Antony Irudaya Raj, SDB as the first Bishop of Dharmapuri.

FORMER PRELATES

Rt. Rev. H.A. Prunier (1930 – 1949)
Rt. Rev. V.S. Selvanather (1949 - 1973)
Rt. Rev. Michael Bosco Duraisamy (1974 – 1999).