Skip to comments.Celebrating the Apostle's Coming : 1950th Anniversary of St. Thomas in India
Posted on 12/22/2002 3:11:50 PM PST by Dajjal
Celebrating the Apostles coming
K. R. N. Swamy
The X-mas this year is being celebrated as the 1950th year of Apostle St Thomas coming to India
THE two-month-long celebration, that started on November 17 this year in Cochin, commemorating the 1950th year of Apostle St. Thomas arrival in India, was symbolic of Indian culture. A hundred thousand- strong congregation of Christians, presided over by the erudite Muslim President of India, Abul Kalam, so steeped in Hinduism. Three major Christian organisations, (representing the 22-million-strong Christian community), the Evangelical Fellowship of India with more than 100 church groups, the National Council of Churches in India (consisting of 29 Orthodox and Protestant Churches) and the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, have come together for the November-December 2002, celebration of the arrival of the disciple of Christ," in Kerala in A.D. 52.
On this occasion, the speakers lauded the spiritual labours of St. Thomas and St. Francis Xavier, who had expired in 1552, 450 years ago. The mortal remains of St. Xavier, are preserved in the Church of Bom Jesus in Goa for the last four-and-a-half centuries. Even during the hurried evacuation of the Portuguese from India in 1961, they did not have the courage to offend the local Indian sentiment by taking the body to Portugal. St. Thomas was martyred 1930 years ago in A.D. 72 at Mylapore, near Chennai and his body had been buried in the crypt of the present-day Santhome Basilica. One group of historians hold, that in the 13th century, the body was removed to be kept in Edessa in Syria, later transferred to Ortona in Italy by the Vatican. Another set of researchers, claims that the Portuguese found the mortal remains in early 16th century at Mylapore Santhome church. Centuries ago, there were not sufficient devotees of St. Thomas in Madras to prevent this vandalism.
In 1892, the old Cathedral built by the Portuguese in the 16th century was replaced with the present edifice. It is apparent that there was no "heritage"-conscious devotees 110 years ago, as the old building (as could be seen from a photograph) was more in tune with Indian architectural nuances. This reconstruction was a blunder because during the process many historic relics, some of them 1800 years old, like the stone slab that had covered the grave of St. Thomas were "misplaced" and has not been found again.
At the entrance to the museum there are two carved stones, which according to the museum authorities might be the ones referred by St. Gregory-Bishop of Tours (France) in 590 A.D. As "In that part of India, where the remains of St. Thomas rested, stand a monastery and a church of striking dimensions, elaborately adorned and designed." Other interesting items, are two stone medallions carved in stone and are supposed to be that of the king of Mylapore-during whose reign the Saint was killed and that of his son. A map, dated 1519 displayed is marking the place where St. Thomas was buried. In addition, there are a number of carved stones showing a cross between two peacocks, a Sanskrit inscription, and a number of unidentified inscriptions.
An ornate item is a chair with the episcopal coat of arms dating from the year 1611. One interesting carving is a double figure in stone and all research point out to one of the figures being the representation of St. Thomas. Friar Paulinus, in his book "Christian Oriental India" elates printed in Rome in 1794, says that this stone was found near the tomb of St. Thomas and describes one of the figures as St. Thomas, "dressed in a garment falling down to the heels, holding in his left hand on his breast a book, and with the right hand in the pose of blessing or teaching". There are some St. Thomas gold coins known as Santhomes, specially minted in Goa in 1548 in honour of the Saint. The most important exhibits are two relic holders, one containing "the iron tip of the spear which was used to kill the saint by his enemies". This iron spear was found in the St. Thomas Mount in Madras by the Portuguese in 1523 and over the years was kept in many important catholic bishopries of India and ultimately now in Santhome. Over the centuries, the iron has rusted away, but still, we can see the sharp contours of the spear.
The other holder contains the most important item in the museum a portion of the finger that touched Christ.... As is known, St. Thomas had said that he would not believe in the Resurrection till he had felt the Risen Christ and his wounds with his own finger "Except I put my hand into His side, I will not believe (John 20.25)". In 1952, the Pope decided to gift to India, a portion of this finger from the relics kept at Ortona in Italy, in order to commemorate the 1900 years of arrival of St. Thomas in India and Cardinal Tisserant officiating for the Pope, presented this precious relic to Indian Christianity.
There are a number of paintings displayed on the various incidents in the life of St. Thomas. When you enter the Basilica nearby, you can see the crypt, where the saints body was originally buried. The St. Thomas Museum is the symbol of the two millenniums old Christian tradition in India. MF
bumping on July 3, 2004, Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle
**The other holder contains the most important item in the museum a portion of the finger that touched Christ.... As is known, St. Thomas had said that he would not believe in the Resurrection till he had felt the Risen Christ and his wounds with his own finger "Except I put my hand into His side, I will not believe (John 20.25)".**
Something I did not know!
>bumping on July 3, 2004, Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle
Thanks for the reminder!
|ST. THOMAS THE APOSTLE
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).
Author: HERBERT THURSTON
Transcribed by Mary and Joseph Thomas
July 3, 2006
St. Thomas the Apostle
Poor Thomas! He made one remark and has been branded as Doubting Thomas ever since. But if he doubted, he also believed. He made what is certainly the most explicit statement of faith in the New Testament: My Lord and My God! (see John 20:24-28) and, in so expressing his faith, gave Christians a prayer that will be said till the end of time. He also occasioned a compliment from Jesus to all later Christians: Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed (John 20:29).
Thomas should be equally well known for his courage. Perhaps what he said was impetuoussince he ran, like the rest, at the showdownbut he can scarcely have been insincere when he expressed his willingness to die with Jesus. The occasion was when Jesus proposed to go to Bethany after Lazarus had died. Since Bethany was near Jerusalem, this meant walking into the very midst of his enemies and to almost certain death. Realizing this, Thomas said to the other apostles, Let us also go to die with him (John 11:16b).
BTTT on the Feast of St. Thomas, Apostles, July 3, 3007!
BIG BUMP for the great ST. THOMAS, APOSTLE OF THE LORD !!!
Saint Thomas the Apostle
The Incredulity of Saint Thomas
1601-02, Oil on canvas, 107 x 146 cm
Doubting Thomas. The Gospel account of Jesus' appearance to His grieving apostles after His resurrection in John 20, tells of Thomas, who was away, being doubtful of the preposterous story that the Lord was alive. He had been with the Lord during his Passion and Crucifixion. He knew about the stone that sealed the tomb. How could his Lord be risen from the dead? I will not believe it, he told his friends, unless I put my hands in Jesus' wounds.
Every Christian can relate to this doubt -- we too are "doubting Thomases". And we, with Thomas, feel ashamed of ourselves. We follow Thomas's example in proclaiming, in awed recognition of Our Savior's living, real presence, "My Lord and my God!"
According to tradition, when the apostles dispersed to different parts of the world, Thomas was a missionary to India and the Near East.
as we honor Thomas the apostle,
let us always experience the help of his prayers.
May we have eternal life by believing in Jesus,
whom Thomas acknowledged as Lord,
for He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
First Reading: Ephesians 2:19-22
So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Gospel Reading: John 20:24-29
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe". Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, "Peace be with you." Then He said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing". Thomas answered Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."
Chaldean Coconut Cookies - Akras Jouz Al-Hind
These triangular coconut cookies are served at First Communion parties among Christians in such countries as Iraq. According to their tradition, Saint Thomas the Apostle on his way to India brought the Gospel to the Chaldeans of Babylon and Assyria. This recipe is adapted from Babylonian Cuisine: Chaldean Cookbook from the Middle East by Julia Najor.
-- from A Continual Feast by Evelyn Birge Vitz, originally published by Harper & Row in 1995, now available in paperback from Ignatius Press.
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup water
4 cups flaked coconut
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
In a small heavy saucepan mix the sugar and water. Stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Let the mixture come to a boil and skim off the foam. Let cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture registers 240° F on a candy thermometer. Let cool.
In a bowl beat the eggs lightly, and add the remaining ingredients. Stir in the sugar syrup. Knead the dough gently in the bowl with the palm of the hand and the fingers for about 5 to 7 minutes.
Refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 300° F.
Take balls of dough a little larger than a walnut. Using a spoon or your fingers, form each ball into a flattish triangle about 1/4 inch thick.
Place the cookies on greased baking sheets. Bake them for 35 to 40 minutes, or until they are very light brown.
Yield: about 2 dozen cookies.
Bumpus ad summum!
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