• It is said that he arrived at the location of the shrine after reaching India in 52 AD.
  • Devotees believe he performed a miracle and left a footprint on the hilltop.

Who was Saint Thomas?

  • In Christian mythology, it is believed that when Jesus Christ set out to preach his beliefs and message, he had 12 apostles or disciples whom he chose to spread his word.
  • St Thomas, one of those apostles, is mentioned in The Gospel of John, the fourth of Christianity’s authoritative books that give an account of Jesus’s life.

St Thomas’s visit to India

  • Some accounts say that Thomas went on to preach the religion in West Asia and then came to India in 52 AD, establishing the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, whose members are known today as Syrian Christians.
  • Most sources agree that he died in present-day Chennai.
  • Today, the St Thomas Church in the Kerala is believed to be the place where the apostle was laid to rest.
  • The church was built over his tomb in the 16th century by Portuguese explorers.
  • The church is one of the only three known churches in the world built over the tomb of an apostle of Jesus.
  • The other two being St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and Santiago de Compostela Cathedral at Galicia in Spain.

Why is St Thomas’s visit disputed?

  • Because of a lack of account about their details, though his tomb is mentioned by travellers who came to India, such as the 13th Century merchant Marco Polo.
  • The oldest document is the book Acta Thomae, written at Edessa in CE 2-4 centuries.
  • This book describes St Thomas’s first mission, when he reached the capital of the Parthian King Gondophares, who ruled Afghanistan and Punjab with Takshasila as the capital.
  • He then carried out evangelical activities there and went to southern India and finally Chennai.


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