Thomas the Apostle of India

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Born on1st century AD, Galilee

Died on AD 72 , Mylapore, India

The holy, glorious and all-laudable Apostle Thomas is included in the number of the holy Twelve Apostles of the Savior. He was ready to die with Jesus when Christ went to Jerusalem, but is best remembered for doubting the Resurrection until allowed to touch Christs wounds. Preached in Parthia, Persia and India, though he was so reluctant to start the mission that he had to be taken into slavery by a merchant headed that way. He eventually gave in to Gods will, was freed, and planted the new Church over a wide area. He formed many parishes and built many churches along the way. An old tradition says that Thomas baptised the wise men from the Nativity into Christianity.

His symbol is the builders square; there are several stories that explain it.

He built a palace for King Guduphara in India

He built the first church in India with his own hands

It is representative building a strong spiritual foundation as he had complete faith in Christ (though initially less in the Resurrection)

He offered to build a palace for an Indian king that would last forever; the king gave him money, which Thomas promptly gave away to the poor; he explained that the palace he was building was in heaven, not on earth

Death

stabbed with a spear c.72 in while in prayer on a hill in Mylapur, India and buried near the site of his death. His relics later moved to Edessa, Mesopotamia.His relics moved to Ortona, Italy in the 13th centuryImage

The Apostle Thomas was born in the Galileian city of Pansada and was a fisherman. Hearing the good tidings of Jesus Christ, he left all and followed after him. Saint Thomas was one of the fisherman on the Lake of Galilee whom Our Lord called to be His Apostles. By nature slow to believe, too apt to see difficulties and to look at the dark side of things, he had nonetheless a very sympathetic, loving, and courageous heart.When Jesus spoke to His apostles of His forthcoming departure, and told His faithful disciples that they already knew the Way to follow Him, Saint Thomas, in his simplicity, asked: Lord, we know not whither Thou goest, and how can we know the way?

When the Master during a journey turned back to go toward Bethany, near Jerusalem, to the grave of Lazarus, the apostle Thomas, knowing of the malevolent intentions of the Jerusalem religious authorities, at once feared the worst for his beloved Lord. Yet he cried out bravely: Let us go then and die with Him!

After the Resurrection his doubts prevailed, and while the wounds of the crucifixion remained vividly imprinted in his affectionate memory, he could not credit the report that Christ had risen. But at the actual sight of the pierced hands and side, and the gentle rebuke of his Saviour, his unbelief vanished forever. His faith and ours have always triumphed in his joyous utterance: My Lord and my God!

That Saint Thomas, after the dispersion of the Apostles, went to India, where he labored and died at Meliapour, is a certain fact of history. The Roman Breviary states that he preached in Ethiopia and Abyssinia, as well as in Persia and Media. Surely his was a remarkable history, reserved for the inhabitants of Christs glory to see in its fullness some day.

Before he died in Meliapour, he erected a very large cross and predicted to the people that when the sea would advance to the very foot of that cross, God would send them, from a far-distant land, white men who would preach to them the same doctrine he had taught them. This prophecy was verified when the Portuguese arrived in the region, and found that the ocean had advanced so far as to be truly at the foot of the cross. At the foot of this cross was a rock where Saint Thomas, while praying fervently, suffered his martyrdom by a blow from the lance of a pagan priest. This happened, according to the Roman Breviary, at Calamine, which is in fact Meliapour, for in the language of the people the word Calurmine means on the rock (mina). The name was given the site in memory of the Apostles martyrdom.

According to Holy Scripture, the holy Apostle Thomas did not believe the reports of the other disciples about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).

On the eighth day after the Resurrection, the Lord appeared to the Apostle Thomas and showed him His wounds. “My Lord and my God,” the Apostle cried out (John 20:28). “Thomas, being once weaker in faith than the other apostles,” says St John Chrysostom, “toiled through the grace of God more bravely, more zealously and tirelessly than them all, so that he went preaching over nearly all the earth, not fearing to proclaim the Word of God to savage nations.”

Some icons depicting this event are inscribed “The Doubting Thomas.” This is incorrect. In Greek, the inscription reads, “The Touching of Thomas.” In Slavonic, it says, “The Belief of Thomas.” When St Thomas touched the Life-giving side of the Lord, he no longer had any doubts. According to Church Tradition, the holy Apostle Thomas founded Christian churches in Palestine, Mesopotamia, Parthia, Ethiopia and India. Church Traditon also indicates that Apostle Thomas baptized the Magicitation needed. Preaching the Gospel earned him a martyr’s death. For having converted the wife and son of the prefect of the Indian city of Meliapur (Melipur), the holy apostle was locked up in prison, suffered torture, and finally, pierced with five spears, he departed to the Lord. Part of the relics of the holy Apostle Thomas are in India, in Hungary and on Mt. Athos. The name of the Apostle Thomas is associated with the Arabian (or Arapet) Icon of the Mother of God (September 6).

Little is recorded of St.Thomas the Apostle, nevertheless thanks to the fourth Gospel his personality is clearer to us than that of some others of the Twelve. His name occurs in all the lists of the Synoptists (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6, cf. Acts 1:13), but in St.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 St. Thomas who during the discourse before the Last Supper raised an objection:” Thomas saith to him : Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). But more especially St. Thomas is 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); but eight days later he made his act of faith, drawing down the rebuke of Jesus: “Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed” (John 20:29).

This exhausts all our certain knowledge regarding the Apostle but his name is the starting point of a considerable apocryphal literature, and there are also certain historical data which suggest that some of this apocryphal material may contains germs of truth. The principal document concerning him is the “Acta Thomae”, preserved to us with some variations both in Greek and in Syriac, and bearing unmistakeable signs of its Gnostic origin. It may indeed be the work of Bardesanes himself. The story in many of its particulars is utterly extravagant, but it is the early date, being assigned by Harnack (Chronologie, ii, 172) to the beginning of the third century, before A. D. 220. If the place of its origin is really Edessa, as Harnack and others for sound reasons supposed (ibid., p. 176), this would lend considerable probability to the statement, explicitly made in “Acta” (Bonnet, cap. 170, p.286), that the relics of Apostle Thomas, which we know to have been venerated at Edessa, had really come from the East. The extravagance of the legend may be judged from the fact that in more than one place (cap. 31, p. 148) it represents Thomas (Judas Thomas, as he is called here and elsewhere in Syriac tradition) as the twin brother of Jesus. The Thomas in Syriac is equivalant to XXXXX in Greek, and means twin. Rendel Harris who exaggerates very much the cult of the Dioscuri, wishes to regards this as a transformation of a pagan worship of Edessa but the point is at best problematical. The story itself runs briefly as follows: At the division of the Apostles, India fell to the lot of Thomas, but he declared his inability to go, whereupon his Master Jesus appeared in a supernatural way to Abban, the envoy of Gundafor, an Indian king, and sold Thomas to him to be his slave and serve Gundafor as a carpender. Then Abban and Thomas sailed away until they came to Andrapolis, where they landed and attended the marriage feast of the ruler’s daughter. Strange occurences followed and Christ under the appearence of Thomas exhorted the bride to remain a Virgin. Coming to India Thomas undertook to build a palace for Gundafor, but spend the money entrusted to him on the poor. Gundafor imprisoned him; but the Apostle escaped miraculously and Gundafor was converted. Going about the country to preach, Thomas met with strange adventures from dragons and wild asses. Then he came to the city of King Misdai (Syriac Mazdai), where he converted Tertia the wife of Misdai and Vazan his son. After this he was condemed to death, led out of city to a hill, and pierced through with spears by four soldiers. He was buried in the tomb of the ancient kings but his remains were afterwards removed to the West.

Now it is certainly a remarkable fact that about the year A.D. 46 a king was reigning over that part of Asia south of Himalayas now represented by Afghanistan, Baluchistan, the Punjab, and Sind, who bore the name Gondophernes or Guduphara. This we know both from the discovery of coins, some of the Parthian type with Greek legends, others of the Indian types with the legends in an Indian dialect in Kharoshthi characters. Despite sundry minor variations the identity of the name with the Gundafor of the “Acta Thomae” is unmistakable and is hardly disputed. Further we have the evidence of the Takht-i-Bahi inscription, which is dated and which the best specialists accept as establishing the King Gunduphara probably began to reign about A.D. 20 and was still reigning in 46. Again there are excellent reasons for believing that Misdai or Mazdai may well be transformation of a Hindu name made on the Iranian soil. In this case it will probably represent a certain King Vasudeva of Mathura, a successor of Kanishka. No doubt it can be urged that the Gnostic romancer who wrote the “Acta Thomae” may have adopted a few historical Indian names to lend verisimilitude to his fabrication, but as Mr. Fleet urges in his severely critical paper “the names put forward here in connection with St.Thomas are distinctly not such as have lived in Indian story and tradition” (Joul. of R. Asiatic Soc.,1905, p.235).

On the other hand, though the tradition that St. Thomas preached in “India” was widely spread in both East and West and is to be found in such writers as Ephraem Syrus, Ambrose, Paulinus, Jerome, and, later Gregory of Tours and others, still it is difficult to discover any adequate support for the long-accepted belief that St. Thomas pushed his missionary journeys as far south as Mylapore, not far from Madras, and there suffered martyrdom. In that region is still to be found a granite bas-relief cross with a Pahlavi (ancient Persian) inscription dating from the seventh century, and the tradition that it was here that St. Thomas laid down his life is locally very strong. Certain it is also that on the Malabar or west coast of southern India a body of Christians still exists using a form of Syriac for its liturgical language. Whether this Church dates from the time of St. Thomas the Apostle (there was a Syro-Chaldean bishop John “from India and Persia” who assisted at the Council of Nicea in 325) or whether the Gospel was first preached there in 345 owing to the Persian persecution under Shapur (or Sapor), or whether the Syrian missionaries who accompanied a certain Thomas Cana penetrated to the Malabar coast about the year 745 seems difficult to determine. We know only that in the sixth century Cosmas Indicopleustes speaks of the existence of Christians at Male (?Malabar) under a bishop who had been consecrated in Persia. King Alfred the Great is stated in the “Anglo-Saxon Chronicle” to have sent an expedition to establish relations with these Christians of the Far East. On the other hand the reputed relics of St. Thomas were certainly at Edessa in the fourth century, and there they remained until they were translated to Chios in 1258 and towards to Ortona. The improbable suggestion that St. Thomas preached in America (American Eccles. Rev., 1899, pp.1-18) is based upon a misunderstanding of the text of the Acts of Apostles (i, 8; cf. Berchet “Fonte italiane per la storia della scoperta del Nuovo Mondo”, II, 236, and I, 44).

Besides the “Acta Thomae” of which a different and notably shorter redaction exists in Ethiopic and Latin, we have an abbreviated form of a so-called “Gospel of Thomas” originally Gnostic, as we know it now merely a fantastical history of the childhood of Jesus, without any notably heretical colouring. There is also a “Revelatio Thomae”, condemned as apocryphal in the Degree of Pope Gelasius, which has recently been recovered from various sources in a fragmentary condition (see the full text in the Revue benedictine, 1911, pp. 359-374).

Little is recorded of St. Thomas the Apostle, nevertheless thanks to the fourth Gospel his personality is clearer to us than that of some others of the Twelve. His name occurs in all the lists of the Synoptists (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6, cf. Acts 1:13), but in St. 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 St. Thomas who during the discourse before the Last Supper raised an objection: “Thomas saith to him: Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). But more especially St. Thomas is 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); but eight days later he made his act of faith, drawing down the rebuke of Jesus: “Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed” (John 20:29).

Acts, chapter 1 drew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of A

John, chapter 11 .” Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciple

John, chapter 14 g.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you

John, chapter 20 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not

John, chapter 20 the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus

John, chapter 20 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; an

John, chapter 20 .” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

John, chapter 21 Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathan’a-el of Cana in Galilee

Luke, chapter 6 d Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who

Mark, chapter 3 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus

Matthew, chapter 10 and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son

During Jesus public ministry they repeatedly fail to get it. In fact Jesus wears himself out trying to hammer the truth through their thick skulls. After witnessing three years of miracles, one of them betrays Jesus and the leader of the group denies him. All but one run away when hes crucified, and no one believes Mary Magdalene when she brings them the news of his resurrection. But the episode recounted in John 20:19-31 takes the cake. The Risen Christ appears to the twelve on Easter Sunday evening. Or rather, I should say he appeared to the ten. Judas, the traitor, had taken his own life. And Thomas, the twin, missed the occasion. When Thomas returns to the group, he refuses to believe them. He demands empirical proof submitted personally to his lordship: Unless I put my finger in the nail marks in his hands and place my hand in his side, I will not believe. This sounds more like a pouting of a child than the words of an apostle.

In justice, Jesus could have just said enough. Thomas had already seen so much. Acts 1 tells us that Judas was replaced by Matthias. This ungrateful skeptic could easily have been replaced as well. But Jesus does not deal with us by virtue of strict justice. God forbid! No, he comes to us in mercy, giving us what we do not deserve. And that’s how he dealt with this doubter. A week later, he gives him what he asked for. Imagine how badly Thomas yearned to eat his words as he put his hand into the sacred side of the New Adam.

Thomas can’t be said to come to true faith in the resurrection through all this. Because faith is about believing what you can’t see. Walking by faith means NOT walking by sight. In heaven, well see God face to face, so faith will be no more. Blessed, says Jesus, are those who have not seen, and yet believe. But Thomas does come to faith in something else that he can’t quite see. He saw Lazarus, the son of the widow of Nain plus the daughter of Jairus, all raised from the dead. Thomas now looks at yet another risen human being before him and says what he did not say to the prior three: My Lord and My God. Thomas here professes what can only be seen by the eye of faith. The resurrection of Jesus is not just a marvel for Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Jesus is not just some first century Houdini. No, his resurrection is a sign that he is the Messiah, the King, even the Eternal God, come in the flesh. So this man, humbled by Christs mercy, is content to be known for all generations as Doubting Thomas. He and the other apostles spread a story in which they look real bad. And for it they receive not privilege but persecution and death. So why do they spread the story? Because it�s the truth. And because its a proclamation of the Divine Mercy of God who does not reject the thick-headed, the weak, and the doubting but instead gives them the power to become strong, loving, and wise.Behold, says Jesus, I make all things new. (Rev 21:5)

St. Thomas the Apostle (First Century)

The Apostle St Thomas (also called Didymus, ‘twin’) is the subject of a masterly character sketch in St John’s Gospel. It is important because he is not unlike many well-meaning people of today who have received a technical education and nothing else, and believe only what they can see and touch. He comes to notice when, against the protests of the frightened disciples, Jesus insists on returning to Judea to raise Lazarus from the dead. Thomas, loyal and pessimistic, enlists the others to go too, ‘that we may die with him’ (John 11:7-16). Then, at the Last Supper, when Jesus tells his disciples that he is about to leave them and that they know the way where he is going, this same common-sense Thomas, evidently under great strain, cries, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going; and how can we know the way?’ Jesus treats him to the sublime answer: ‘I am the – way . . . No one goes to the Father save through me.’

The shattering blow of the crucifixion was followed by ‘women’s tales’ of a resurrection. Poor Thomas, who had not died with him after all, was away, perhaps hiding his head in sullen bitterness, when Jesus appeared to the rest. He met their enthusiastic testimony with obstinate disbelief which became neurotically brutal: ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and put my finger in the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’ A sad, lonely week must have followed for him, with the others so happy. Then he rejoined them in his loyal way, although the doors were still shut for fear of the Jews. Only Jesus could convince him, and he came specially to give him the proof he demanded: ‘Bring your finger here and see my hands; and put forth your hand and place it in my side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.’ Thomas needed no more and burst into the great cry which is the climax of St John’s Gospel and Christianity’s age-long confession: ‘My Lord and my God.’ Peter and Thomas are the first two disciples mentioned as present when Jesus manifested himself at the sea of Galilee. Thomas would not be left out again.Jesus said to Thomas: ‘Have you believed because you have seen? Blessed are they who have not seen and yet believe.’ Here is encouragement to those who receive God’s gift of faith with the simplicity of a child. But Jesus never said men should shut their eyes, and St Gregory remarks that Thomas’s doubt helps us more than the faith of others. Faith is above reason, but reason leads to faith, for the things men see and touch point beyond themselves. To deny this brings neurotic conflict. St Thomas’s feast on December 21st is fittingly near the day when we celebrate the Incarnation. A strong, early tradition makes him the Apostle of India.

Acts of Judas Thomas

Acta Thomae, the apocryphal book is historically dated around end of first century soon after the martyrdom of St. Thomas. There are several ancients texts in existence in various languages such as Syriac, Greek, Latin, Armenian and Ethiopic. The original manuscripts are found in the British Museum. This book gives a detailed account of Apostle Thomas labors in nine parts. The gist of the book is as follows: After the ascension of Jesus Christ, the Apostles met in Jerusalem and portioned all the countries of the world among themselves. India which at that time included all Middle East to the present India fell to the lot of St. Thomas. A certain merchant by name Habban – the Raja Vaidehika of Indian King Gundnaphor came to Jerusalem looking for a carpenter to take home to the King. Christ appeared to Habban and asked him whether he was there for a carpenter. He said yes. Jesus introduced himself as Jesus the Carpenter from Nazareth and sold his slave Thomas to Habban for twenty pieces of silver and pointed Thomas to him. Habban asked Thomas whether Jesus was his master. Thomas answered Yes, he is my Lord. Habban told Thomas,He has sold you to me outright. Thomas was dumb founded. In the morning, Thomas prayed, Lord, Let thy will be done and went with Habban. He took with him nothing except the twenty pieces of silver which Jesus gave him. They took the sea route to India and landed in a port called Sandruk Mahosa . Here Habban was received by the local King. They attended the wedding of the Kings daughter and St. Thomas demonstrated his ability of miracle healing on the troubled daughter of the King by the laying on of hands. There after they continued their journey in India. They reached the Kingdom of Gundaphorus and Thomas was commissioned to build a palace for the King in the shores of the River. However St. Thomas out of his pity gave away the money to the poor and could not build the palace. He was put in the prison. However that night the King’s brother Gad died and he was told the beautiful palace beside the river in the heavens was his brothers. He came back from the dead and told the story to the King. They were later converted to the Christian way.

After ordaining one Xantippus (Xenophon) as deacon to the churches in North India St. Thomas traveled throughout India and converted many to Christianity . Among them are the names of: King of Mazdai, a noble lady by name Mygdonia, Tertia the queen of Mazdai. He was martyred outside the cities on a mountain at the hands of four soldiers.

Local Tradition

In almost complete support to the book there is a time honored tradition in Malabar which is handed down to us from generation to generation in the form of the songs of the Nazranis as Margom Kali. The other tradition comes from Veeradian pattu which is performed by a Hindu Caste on Christian festivals and is their heritage. Another written document is the Thomma Parvam written by Thomas Ramban in 1601 for use in the Niranam church. This Thomas Ramban is a descendant of one of the first Brahmin convert to Christianity christened as Ramban Thomas during St. Thomas’ visit. The story is handed down through generations until it was written down in 1601. Apostle Thomas landed in Cranganoor (Kodungallur, Muziris) and took part in the wedding of Cheraman Perumal and proceeded to the courts of Gondophorus in North India. By the discovery of Trade winds, the sea route most favored from Yemen boarder to India was to Kerala. Trade winds were discovered in A.D. 45 by Hippalus and the merchant route to Kerala went directly to Yemeni Ports and then proceeded to the Spice route over Palestine.

According to Thomma Parvom the visit of St. Thomas in Kerala lasted only eight days in the first instant. During this period the main converts were Jews who were settled in Malabar. (There was a large Jewish community in Cochin at that time) . During his second visit over three thousand became Christians. The first convert was a Brahmin from Maliyakal who became Thomas Maliyakal the Ramban. Among them were 75 Brahmin families along with Jews, Kshatriyas, Nairs and Chettiars. One Jewish prince by name Kepha (Peter) was later ordained as bishop when St. Thomas left for the rest of Kerala and India. The seven original churches established by St. Thomas were located at Malayankara (Malayattur), Palayur (near Chavakkad), Koovakayal (near North Paravur), Kokkamangalam (South Pallipuram), Kollam, Niranam and Nilackel (Chayal). Each local parish was self-administered, guided by a group of presbyters and presided over by the elder priest or episcopa (bishop).

The King Gondophorus

This King was a mystery figure until recently. No one knew of a King by that name or a Kingdom corresponding to the description given in the tradition. However excavations in both east and west of Indus has unearthed coins and inscriptions which made it clear that Gundaphorus was indeed a historical figure and that he belonged to the Parthian Dynasty from Takshasila (Taxila). On the obverse of the coin is the figure of King Gondophorus with his name inscribed clearly. On the reverse is the figure of Shiva with his trident and with the clear inscription in Greek Maharaja- rajaraja-samahata- dramia-devavrata- Gundaphorasa. The date of his reign is clearly marked in the Takth-i-Bahi stones kept in Lahore museum which is 17 inches long and 14 1/2 inches wide and states: In the twenty-sixth year of the great King Gudaphoara, in the year three and one hundred, in the month of Vaishakh, on the fifth day This places his ascension to the Kingdom as AD 19 and the year 103 corresponds to AD 46. Further evidence indicates that this King had a brother named Gad.

Soon after, this kingdom was over ran by several invasions and the churches established in the Northern India vanished with the Parthian Empire without a trace. The Christian community seems to have gone underground with a strong vow of silence in the face of massacre and severe persecutions. Even today there is an underground Christian Sanyasi group who surfaces whenever there is a need to help the missions. Sadhu Sunder Singh reports that he had been taken care of by these secret sects on one of his Himalayan journeys.

After leaving Taxila St. Thomas evangelized various parts of India and finally arrived in Madras where he was martyred by a tribal chief. His tomb can still be seen in Mylapore.

Malankara Syrian Christians

Malankara Syrian Christians today traces their heritage from the Apostle Thomas. Today they belong to various denominations such as the Orthodox Church, Mar Thoma church, St.Thomas Evangelical Church, Church of South India, Roman Catholic and other independent evangelicals.

St. Thomas was a Jew, called to be one of the twelve Apostles. He was a dedicated but impetuous follower of Christ. When Jesus said He was returning to Judea to visit His sick friend Lazarus, Thomas immediately exhorted the other Apostles to accompany Him on the trip which involved certain danger and possible death because of the mounting hostility of the authorities. At the Last Supper, when Christ told His Apostles that He was going to prepare a place for them to which they also might come because they knew both the place and the way, Thomas pleaded that they did not understand and received the beautiful assurance that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. But St. Thomas is best known for his role in verifying the Resurrection of his Master. Thomas’ unwillingness to believe that the other Apostles had seen their risen Lord on the first Easter Sunday merited for him the title of “doubting Thomas.” Eight days later, on Christ’s second apparition, Thomas was gently rebuked for his scepticism and furnished with the evidence he had demanded – seeing in Christ’s hands the point of the nails and putting his fingers in the place of the nails and his hand into His side. At this, St. Thomas became convinced of the truth of the Resurrection and exclaimed: “My Lord and My God,” thus making a public Profession of Faith in the Divinity of Jesus. St. Thomas is also mentioned as being present at another Resurrection appearance of Jesus – at Lake Tiberias when a miraculous catch of fish occurred. This is all that we know about St. Thomas from the New Testament. Tradition says that at the dispersal of the Apostles after Pentecost this saint was sent to evangelize the Parthians, Medes, and Persians; he ultimately reached India, carrying the Faith to the Malabar coast, which still boasts a large native population calling themselves “Christians of St. Thomas.” He capped his left by shedding his blood for his Master, speared to death at a place called Calamine. His feast day is July 3rd and he is the patron of architects.

Tradition says that at the dispersal of the Apostles after Pentecost this Saint was sent to evangelize the Parthians, Medes, and Persians; he ultimately reached India, carrying the Faith to the Malabar coast, which still boasts a large native population calling themselves “Christians of St. Thomas.” He capped his life by shedding his blood for his Master, speared to death at a place called Calamine.

St. Thomas is a patron of architects. His feast day is July 3rd.

Thomas Sunday (the 1st Sunday after Easter, October 6, and June 30 Synaxis of the Apostles) (Eastern Orthodox Churches)

December 21 (on local calendars and among Traditional Roman Catholics)

Thomas in the Gospel of John

Thomas appears in a few passages in the Gospel of John. In John 11:16, when Lazarus has just died, the disciples are resisting Jesus’ decision to return to Judea, where the Jews had previously tried to stone Jesus. Jesus is determined, and Thomas says bravely: “Let us also go, that we might die with him” (NIV) He also speaks at The Last Supper.[Jn. 14:5] Jesus assures his disciples that they know where he is going but Thomas protests that they don’t know at all. Jesus replies to this and to Philip’s requests with a detailed exposition of his relationship to God the Father.

In Thomas’ best known appearance in the New Testament, [Jn. 20:24-29] he doubts the Death and resurrection of Jesus and demands to touch Jesus’ wounds before being convinced. Caravaggio’s painting, The Incredulity of Saint Thomas (illustration above), depicts this scene. This story is the origin of the term Doubting Thomas. After seeing Jesus alive (the Bible never states whether Thomas actually touched Christ’s wounds), Thomas professed his faith in Jesus, exclaiming “My Lord and my God!” On this account he is also called Thomas the Believer.

Name and identity

There is disagreement and uncertainty as to the identity of Saint Thomas. One recent theory is presented in the book The Jesus Family Tomb. The authors, Simcha Jacobovici and Pellegrino, identify him with two of those who were interred in the Talpiot Tomb, “Yehuda son of Yeshua.”

 

The Greek Didymus: in the Gospel of John.[11:16] [20:24] Thomas is more specifically identified as “Thomas, also called the Twin (Didymus)”. The Aramaic Tau’ma: the name “Thomas” itself comes from the Aramaic word for twin: T’oma (תאומא). Thus the name convention Didymus Thomas thrice repeated in the Gospel of John is in fact a tautology that could potentially be interpreted as omitting the Twin’s actual name.

Other names

The Nag Hammadi “sayings” Gospel of Thomas begins: “These are the secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded.” Syrian tradition also states that the apostle’s full name was Judas Thomas, or Jude Thomas. Some have seen in the Acts of Thomas (written in east Syria in the early 3rd century, or perhaps as early as the first half of the 2nd century) an identification of Saint Thomas with the apostle Judas brother of James, better known in English as Jude. However, the first sentence of the Acts follows the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles in distinguishing the apostle Thomas and the apostle Judas son of James. Few texts identify Thomas’ other twin, though in the Book of Thomas the Contender, part of the Nag Hammadi library, it is said to be Jesus himself: “Now, since it has been said that you are my twin and true companion, examine yourself”

Veneration as a Saint

Thomas is revered as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Anglican Communion. In the Roman Catholic Church, his traditional feast day is December 21. In 1970, in order that it would no longer interfere with the major ferial days of Advent, his feast was moved to July 3, the day on which his relics were translated from Mylapore, a place along the coast of the Marina Beach, Chennai in India to the city of Edessa in Mesopotamia. Roman Catholics who follow the traditional calendar, as well as Anglicans who worship according to one of the classical Books of Common Prayer (e.g. 1662 English or 1928 American), continue to celebrate his feast day on December 21.

For the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Eastern Catholic Churches and the Coptic Orthodox Church he is remembered each year on Saint Thomas Sunday, which falls on the Sunday after Easter. In addition, the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches celebrate his feast day on October 6 (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, October 6 currently falls on October 19 of the modern Gregorian Calendar). He is also commemorated in common with all of the other apostles on June 30 (July 13), in a feast called the Synaxis of the Holy Apostles. He is also associated with the “Arabian” (or “Arapet”) Icon of the Theotokos (Mother of God), which is commemorated on September 6 (September 19).


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