Bettiah, PREFECTURE APOSTOLIC OF, in northern India, includes as part of its jurisdiction the entire native state of Nepal, which has an area of more than 59,000 square miles and a population of nearly 3,000,000. The prefecture is bounded on the north by Tibet; on the east, by the Ghagra; on the south, by the Ganges; and on the west, approximately, by the Kusi.
In 1738 Father Joseph of Carignano, a Capuchin, on his way to the missions of Nepal and Tibet, arrived at Bettiah, not far from the southern boundary of the former kingdom. The Queen of Bettiah, being grievously sick, was cured by him; in return, she allowed him to preach the Gospel. The Nepal war of 1769 obliged the Christians to retire southwards, to the neighborhood of Bettiah. In 1883 Father Alexander of Albano opened an orphanage at Chaknee; but, as the number of Italian missionaries was falling off, this district, then a portion of the Allahabad mission, was turned over (October 29, 1889) to the Capuchins of the Province of Northern Tyrol. By a decree of April 20, 1892, this country was made an independent prefecture, suffragan to the See of Agra; the districts of Bettiah, Champaru, Sarun, Tiroot, Mazuffarpore, Dharbanga, and part of those of Bhagalpur and Monghyr were assigned to it. Propaganda added, May 19, 1893, the whole of Nepal, a territory wider than the whole of the original prefecture, and which extends to the borders of Tibet. Nepal thus became separated from the Diocese of Allahabad; it can scarcely be said, however, to have ever been evangelized, seeing that within its 59,000 square miles Rampur is the only station.
Generally speaking, missionary activity in this prefecture has been concentrated in the Bettiah district. According to the latest statistics of the Capuchin missions, the prefecture numbers 13,000,000 inhabitants, of whom only 3,633 are Catholics. Nearly all the Europeans (220) are Anglicans. In 1889 the mission had only three stations; there are now 12 stations and 11 churches or chapels. The principal stations are Bettiah (the residence of the Prefect Apostolic, Ilarione da Abtei), Chohoree, Chaknee, Latonah, Somastipore, Dharbanga, Somesar, Rampur (in Nepal), and Ramnagar. The minor stations are Mazuffarpore, Sonepore, Chapra, and Hipore. The mission is administered by 14 Capuchin priests, aided by 8 lay brothers. There are also 20 Sisters of the Holy Cross (Kreuzschwestern) from Switzerland; 35 schools, with 854 pupils; and 10 orphanages, with 403 orphans.