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.
The parish of Arisipalayam was bifurcated from Shevapet in 1953 and was erected as St. Francis Xavier’s parish. The chapel of St. Francis Xavier’s Minor Seminary served as the parish church till 1991.
The New Cathedral was consecrated on 27th November 1991, and dedicated to Infant Jesus. This magnificent Cathedral was meticulously planned and carefully constructed with strenuous efforts by late Bishop Most Rev. Dr. Michael B. Duraisamy, as his last monument and gift to the diocese of Salem. Very Rev. Fr. S. Amalraj was asked to continue as the first Parish Priest of the Infant Jesus Cathedral parish, since he was already the Parish Priest of St. Xavier’s Church at Arisipalayam. He was in-charge of the Parish till to 13th June 1992. Rev. Fr. S. Savari was appointed as the second Parish Priest. He continued to be the parish Priest up to 20th July 1998. Rev. Fr. M.S. Martin succeeded Fr. S. Savari from 1998 till 2004. Fr. S. Pushpanathan was parish priest till 2009. Fr. A. Singarayan is the Present parish priest.
The cathedral Parish can be divided into two main areas: Arisipalayam and Peramanur. Omalur main Road is dividing these two areas. There are five sectors in Arisipalayam area: Arisipalayam, Mullakkadu, Saminathapuram, Angammal Colony and Pallapatti-Meiyanur. In Peramanur area also there are five sectors Peramanur, Chinnapudur, Sankar Nagar, Fairlands and Alagapuram.
Mostly teachers, Government Employees, Business people, a few doctors, lawyers and Engineers live in Peramanur area. Carpenters, Masons, Daily Coolies, Merchants, Teachers with few doctors and engineers reside at Arisipalayam area.
Parish Priest is Responsible for the administration of the parish. He shares his responsibility with the assistant Parish Priest. Apart from this, there is the parish council with 25 members, representatives of various sections of the parish. Every month in the second week, the parish council meets to plan and discuss the matters that pertain to the parish.
P.O.Box 703, 2, Court Road,
Maravaneri, Salem – 636 007
Bishop’s House (Office) 0427 2415641
Fax 0427 2411517
Procurator 0427 2420148
For more information please visit: http://salemdiocese.org/