Catholic Church in Bhutan

The Catholic Church in Bhutan is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome. The Kingdom of Bhutan falls under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Darjeeling (India).


In 1627, two Portuguese Jesuits, Fathers Estêvão Cacella and João Cabral, traveling from Cochin and attempting to make a new route to the Jesuit mission in Shigatse, Tibet,[1] visited Bhutan. While in Bhutan, these Jesuits met Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder and religious leader of the Bhutanese state, and spent months in his court. The "Zhabdrung strongly encouraged the Jesuits to stay and even allowed them to use a room in Cheri [Monastery] as a chapel, granted them land in Paro to build a church and sent some of his own attendants to join the congregation. With no success in conversion and despite much discouragement from the Zhabdrung against their departure, the Jesuits eventually left for Tibet"[2] At the end of a stay of nearly eight months in the country, Cacella wrote a long letter from Cheri Monastery to his superior in Cochin in the Malabar Coast; it was a report, the Relação, relating the progress of their travels. Their visit is also corroborated in contemporaneous Bhutanese sources, including the biography of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal himself.[3]