It was 1518 when the first Portuguese trading ship docked at the banks of Karnafuli river and so arrived the Christians in the eastern Bengal. The faith brought by the Portuguese traders wouldn’t make it this far if the early missionaries and the faithful didn’t defend and proclaim their faith although there were severe repression and threat in those time. The first missionary in Bengal Fr. Francesco Farnandez came to Chittagong on 1598 when there were around 2500 Christians living in this area. Fr. Francesco built the first church in Bengal and named it ‘Church of John the Baptist.’ Fr. Francesco Fernandez became the first Christian Martyr of Bengal as he was tortured and killed on 1602 by the Arakanese soldiers. Many more faithful had to sacrifice their lives in order to defend their faith.
To mark this glorious and inspirational history of the Archdiocese, Archbishop Moses M. Costa declared the year 2018 as the ‘Year of Mission’ which was inaugurated on 10 December 2017 and closed with a grand pilgrimage in the Miriam Ashram Diang on 7-8 February 2019. Every year people come to attend the pilgrimage of Mary in Miriam Ashram Diang but this year the pilgrimage was especial from every aspect. The preparation for the jubilee celebration started in the parish levels and throughout the year all the parishes arranged different programs. All those preparation came as a successful celebration in Diang. The celebration on the 7th February included a pilgrimage to the holy graveyard of the 600 martyrs at Diang, inauguration of a garden for the Christian rosary prayer, Eucharistic adoration and candlelit procession praying the holy rosary.
On 8th February archbishop of Chattogram Most Rev. Moses M. Costa, CSC presided over the Eucharistic celebration which was con-celebrated by Vatican Ambassador and Apostolic Nuncio to Bangladesh His Excellency, Archbishop George Kocherry; Bishop of Agartala, India Lumen Monteiro, CSC; Bishop of Dinajpur Sebastian Tudu; Bishop of Khulna James Romen Boiragi; Bishop of Mymensingh Paul Ponen Kubi, CSC; Bishop of Rajshahi Gervas Rozario; Bishop of Sylhet Bejoy N. D’Cruze, OMI; Bishop of Barisal Lawrence S. Howlader, CSC, Bishop Auxiliary of Dhaka Shorot Francis Gomes and Bishop Auxiliary Emeritus Theotonius Gomes, CSC. 7000 Catholics, 78 Catholic Priests and numerous religious brother and nuns participated in the Eucharistic Celebration on the 8th February and other programs on the 7th February.
On the evening of 8th February an inter-religious civil gathering took place where different religious leaders and many intellectual persons from different occupation were present. A short cultural presentation on Chittagong Archdiocese were presented after a short speech from both the Archbishop and Nuncio.