St. Thomas the Apostle’s Mission in India
St. Thomas , the
apostle, pray for us
Thomas, one of the apostles of Jesus, is patron of my parish here
in St. Paul Minnesota (USA). The church celebrates the feast of
this great apostle and a saint on July 3rd.
Some of you may not know that
St. Thomas one
among the 12 apostles of Jesus was a missionary to
and that he had given the ultimate sacrifice of his life for
Christ and His Gospel. St. Thomas was martyred at the hands of
Hindu fundamentalists. I hope this article will enlighten many of
the viewers of this web site Barkuronline.com. about this great
saint and the apostle and his important missionary work in India.
Little is recorded of
St. Thomas in the
Gospels. Nevertheless, thanks to the fourth Gospel, his
personality is made clearer to us than some of the other twelve
apostles. His name occurs in all of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew
) but in the Gospel of John he plays a distinctive part. First,
when Jesus announced his intention of returning to Judea to visit
Lazarus, “Thomas, who is called Didymus (the twin), said to his
fellow disciples: Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John
11:16) Again it was Thomas who, during the discourse before the
Last Supper, raised an objection: “Thomas said to him: Lord, we do
not know where you are going and how can we know the way?” (John
14:5) Thomas is most remembered for his incredulity when the other
apostles announced Christ’s Resurrection to him. “Except I shall
see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into
the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not
believe.” (John 20:25) Eight days later, he made his act of faith,
when Jesus invited Thomas to touch and feel him. He said, “my Lord
and my God,” drawing down the rebuke of Jesus: “Because thou hast
seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed. Blessed are they that have
not seen, yet believed.” (John 20:29)
is an Apostolic Church founded in India by St. Thomas. According
to ancient tradition, St. Thomas landed in Kerala, (southern part
of India) in 52 AD. This was possible at the time because there
were many Jewish and Arab traders coming from the Middle East to
India on trade business with the Indian community. The main
commodities of trade were black pepper and spices. Since St.
Thomas was from the Middle East and could speak the language, it
was easy for him to travel with the traders to India.
Thomas established many Christian communities in Kerala and other
parts of southern India. The communities that were formed by St.
Thomas are called St. Thomas Christians even today. Tradition
founded seven churches in Kerala.
After preaching and establishing Christian communities in
different parts of
St. Thomas suffered martyrdom at the hands of Hindu
fundamentalists in 72 AD. I had an opportunity to visit, St.
Thomas Mount, where
was martyred. It is located in southern
India, in the
Archdiocese of Madras and Mylapore. Legend says he was hiding in a
cave and his enemies stabbed him to death. Thousands of visitors
come daily to visit this historical place. In addition to
St. Thomas also preached in Parthis, Persia.
the 15th. and 16th. centuries, Portuguese Jesuit missionaries came
and began the work of evangelization. Important figures of the
time were St. Francis Xavier and St. John Britto. The body of St.
Francis Xavier is in Goa, India. Every ten years the exposition of
the body takes place and thousands of pilgrims come to visit the
body of this great saint. St. John Britto was martyred on February
4, 1693, in a place called Oriyur in Madras, India. This place is
located in the diocese of Sivagangai, south India. Annually people
of this diocese celebrate the feast of St. John Britto and many
pilgrims come to pay homage to this great saint who was the
pioneer of their faith. Today the Catholic Church in
is well established. There are 13.5 million Catholics in 143
diocese that also include the diocese of other Catholic rites such
as the Syro-Malabar and Suro-Malankara rites.
This year, on Sunday the October 17th me and the
Thomas the Apostle will joyfully celebrate the 50th. anniversary
of the parish. Our parish was founded by Fr. Thomas Robertson on
October 17, 1954.
By Fr. Tony Andrade.