The first Christian settlement in East Bengal was established in Chittagong in 1518
Chittagong Archdiocese has begun a two-day program to mark the 500th year of the arrival of the first Christian community in then East Bengal.
The announcement was made during a press briefing at the Pastoral Centre of Chittagong Metropolitan Archdiocese on Wednesday.
Metropolitan Archbishop of Chittagong Moses M Costa said that elaborate events were chalked out to mark the anniversary from February 7 to 8.
"We are very happy to host the holy quincentennial [500th anniversary] celebrations in Chittagong," the archbishop said. "The Christian devotees of Chittagong Archdiocese have taken up all spiritual and mental preparations to host the program smoothly.
"The Catholic community has grown in the last 500 years _ not in terms of number, but in terms of services," he continued. "The number of Catholics in Chittagong is only 33,000. However, with this tiny figure, we have delivered our services to improve education and healthcare in the country. On this special occasion, we pledge to carry on with delivering our services to the people."
The quincentennial celebrations are being held at the Mariam Ashram Diang. The program began on Thursday through a special prayer session, and will end on Friday through a solemn mass.
Ashram Diang is a pilgrimage site for the Christian community located at Doulatpur area under Anwara upazila of Chittagong. On Thursday, hundreds of Christians made the pilgrimage there from all over the country to take part in the holy ceremony.
The first Christian settlement in East Bengal was established in Chittagong back in 1518 with the arrival of Portuguese traders. Later in 1600, the first churches were built at Patharghata and Diang in Anwara upazila.
In 1845, Chittagong became the seat of the Eastern Bengal Vicariate and served the greater eastern Bengal as the main centre of Catholic Christians. After the seat was transferred to Dhaka, Chittagong was upgraded as a diocese in 1927.
At present, there are a total of eight Catholic dioceses in Bangladesh- Dhaka, Chittagong, Dinajpur, Rajshahi, Mymensingh, Khulna, Sylhet and Barisal. Of them, two are metropolitan archdioceses- Dhaka and Chittagong.
Juridical territory of Chittagong Diocese is spread over nine civil districts, namely Chandpur, Laxmipur, Noakhali, Feni, Chittagong, Khagrachhari, Rangamati, Bandarban and Cox’s Bazar.