Thursday, July 3, 2008

Saint Thomas the Apostle

Thomas was one of the Twelve. He is most remembered for his initial unbelief at the news of the Resurrection. He recovered and became zealous, and evangelised far and wide, to Syria, Persia and Parthia, and well into India.

An indian bishop was at Nicea, but most information of the ancient church in India is lost to time. When the portuguese and the jesuits arrived on the Malabar coast and Kerala, they found Christians. There had been occasional references to them for centuries. Those communities exist still, some are in the Syro-Malankara Church and Syro-Malabar rite, and are in union with the universal church. Some are in union with the Antiochian Orthodox.

Besides the pictures of Thomas probing the side of Christ, he is sometimes pictured with a builder’s square, for he built many churches. He is sometimes portrayed with a spear, which was, the implement of his martyrdom. There exist syrian church documents, from the 4th century. A church calendar has the date of the translation of his relics:
3 July, St. Thomas who was pierced with a lance in India. His body is at Urhai [Edessa] having been brought there by the merchant Khabin. A great festival.

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