Malankara World

General Sermons and Essays

St Thomas in India

Rev. Dn. George Mathew, Baltimore, MD

There is little doubt that Apostle Thomas came to India and established a church in Malankara. There may be little physical evidence, but based in the corroborating evidence and traditions handed down, there is good acceptance of this fact. I was taught that he established churches in Kodungallur, Kottakkavu, Palayur, Kollam, Kokkamangalam, Niranam and Chayil. There was a television documentary a few years back on St. Thomas Christians and they showed these churches and the history of St. Thomas coming to India.

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At the St. Thomas Day celebration in New Delhi on December 18, 1955, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the then President of India, said: "St. Thomas came to India
when many of the countries of Europe had not yet become Christian, and so those Indians who trace their Christianity to him have a longer history and a higher ancestry than that of Christians of many of the European countries."

It would be appropriate to cite here an extract from the radio message of Pope Pius XII on 31 December, 1952 on the occasion of the 19th century celebrations
of the arrival of the Apostle in India: "Nineteen hundred years have passed since the Apostle came to India [...] During the centuries that India was cut
off from the West and despite many trying vicissitudes, the Christian communities formed by the Apostle conserved intact the legacy he left them [...]This apostolic lineage, beloved sons and daughters, is the proud privilege of the many among you who glory in the name of Thomas Christians and we are happy on this occasion to acknowledge and bear witness to it."

There are people who doubt about the apostolate of St. Thomas in India. However, according to the tradition, St. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, came to India in 52 A.D., and landed at Kodungallur on the Malabar (presently Kerala) coast. He preached the Gospel to the Brahmin families of Kerala, many of whom received the faith. He established seven Churches there: Kodungallur, Kottakkavu, Palayur, Kollam, Kokkamangalam, Niranam and Chayil. It is also a tradition that he frequently visited Malayattoor hills for prayer. Later, he moved on to the east coast of India. He was martyred in 72 A.D. by a fanatic at Little Mount (near Madras) and his body was brought to Mylapore (near Madras) and was buried there. His tomb is venerated until this day.

This tradition is confirmed by the testimonies of many of the Fathers of the Church. It was not difficult for the Apostle to come to India, because extensive trade relations existed between Malabar and the Mediterranean countries even before the Christian Era. There is nothing to contradict this tradition.

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I don't think there would be documentaries and well-known people would be speaking lies in public.

One of the greatest tragedies of the Malankara Church is that people focus on too many "other" details (St. Thomas -vs- St. Peter, Patriarch -vs- Catholicose, Antioch -vs- Kottayam, etc.) than on the true head of the church, our Lord Jesus Christ. Power, prestige, name ... this is what the church seems to be about in 2004. Let us pray for renewal and revival in the church. Peace is achievable if there is a will for it. Pray for it and work for it in both words and actions. It can happen.

See Also:

Martyrdom of St. Thomas
The Bible has not passed down any information concerning the whereabouts, early life or the parents of St. Thomas and he is known as the leader of silent apostles. He seemed to remain almost alone and melancholic by nature among the 12 apostles.

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