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The "Doubting" Thomas Apostle

His work in India!

IN SEARCH FOR THE TWELVE APOSTLES

by William Steuart McBirnie, Ph.D.


THOMAS


     ST.Thomas was also known as Didymas. The word means "twin,"
but we do not know anything about the brother or sister who was
his twin. He was a native of Galilee and by trade, a fisherman.
The few Biblical references which single him out from among the
Twelve for special attention seem to indicate that he was a
questioner or doubter. Even to this day he is known as "doubting
Thomas." Thomas possessed a nature which contained within it
certain conflicting elements exceedingly difficult of
reconciliation, possessed little natural buoyancy of spirit, and
was inclined to look often at life with icy coolness or
despondency. Yet, Thomas was a man of indomitable courage and
entire unselfishness. He combined a perpetual faith in the
teaching of Jesus mingled with a sincere love for Jesus the
teacher. He is referred to in detail by the Gospel of John alone,
though his election to the Twelve is recorded in Matthew 10:3,
Mark 3:18, Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13.

     John records that when Jesus, despite immanent danger at the
hands of hostile Jews, declared his intention of going to Bethany
to help Lazarus, Thomas alone opposed the other disciples who
sought to dissuade him, and protested, "Let us also go: that we
may die with him." (John 11:16) Was this courage or a fatalistic
pessimism? Perhaps, in a strange way, it was both.
     On the eve of the Passion, Thomas put the question, "Lord,
we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?"
(John 14:5) In this he revealed an insensitivity to what Jesus
had taught which came from an unwillingness to believe.
     After the Crucifixion, Thomas was not present when 
the Risen Christ first appeared to the disciples. Later he
arrived and upon hearing of the resurrection was stubbornly
unconvinced. Said Thomas, "Except I shall see the print of the
nails ... I will not believe." (John 20:25)
     Paradoxically, for one who did not believe in the
resurrection, Thomas remained in the company of the other
Apostles until eight days later when Jesus suddenly appeared in
their midst. Addressing Thomas he invited him to come and examine
his wounds and to "be not faithless, but believing." Whereupon
Thomas prostrated himself and uttered the expression, "My Lord
and my God." He was reproved by Jesus for his previous unbelief:
"Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they
that have not seen, and yet have believed." (John 20:24-29)
     John, who has given us the greatest amount of detail about
Thomas and who had probably known him from boyhood, since they
were of the same craft and city, mentions that Thomas was present
when Jesus manifested himself while the disciples were fishing on
the Sea of Tiberias.
     The constant picture of Thomas is that of a personality
intent to gloom and doubt, yet a believer just the same. He had
never what the Bible calls "a wicked heart of unbelief." Instead
he was a man who struggled against his doubts and was ready to
abandon them when he could.
     It is well for us that we have the picture of "doubting
Thomas" in the Biblical record for, as has been commonly noted by
the commentators, "Thomas doubted that we might have no doubts."


THE MISSIONARY ACTIVITIES OF THOMAS

     A great many legends have grown around the far-reaching
ministry of this Apostle. Among those which must be rejected is
the attempt to identify him with Jude, the son of James, and as a
twin brother of the Messiah. Another legend makes a woman named
Lysia, the twin sister of Thomas. (ISBE, p.2973) However, in the
light of traditions, which have a great deal of history to back
them up, we need not worry about the myths, but may rather
confidently reconstruct the actual missionary journeys of St.
Thomas. In fact, it may be said that we really know more about
St.Thomas than we do about almost any other Apostle with the
exception of John and Peter. It is our intention to examine in
detail this traditional history and to note the high quality of
the documentation which stands behind it.
     It is evident that Thomas visited Babylon. Because the
tradition of the western churches revolved around Constantinople
and Rome, it is astonishing how little is known, even by many
church historians, about the many other vital Christian movements
which began during Apostolic times. These movements quickly
spread eastward, and therefore owed nothing to westem
Christianity.
     Some of the eastern churches boast that their hierarchial
organizations date prior to those established in Constantinople
and Rome. This may be more of a presumption than a historical
fact since the hierarchy was a late development everywhere. But
the traditions are clear; there was an Apostolic movement
eastward and Thomas was a central figure.


THE TRADITION OF THE CHURCH OF THE EAST

     The official name of the Church of the East is "The Holy
Apostolic and Catholic Church of the East." Its publications
claim, "It was founded by the Apostles, St.Peter, St.Thomas, St.
Thaddeus and St.Mari of the Seventy. In the early centuries of
Christianity there was only one Church. The affairs of the Church
were managed by Bishops in their respective areas. There were
also chief Bishops known as Patriarchs. Writes Mar Yacob Manna, a
Uniate Bishop of the Roman Church, in his book "Margy Peghyany"

"Places where Patriarchates were organized by the holy Apostles
are the following mothers of all cities; the first, Babylon. It
is the metropolis, yea, the mother of all cities, and therefore
was the Head of the Assyrian Kingdom. Then Alexandria, Antioch,
Rome, and Constantinople." Of these only Babylon was at that time
outside the Roman Empire of the West. So the Babylon Patriarch
soon came to be known as Patriarch of the East. In the words of
the Rev.Enoch Jones of the American Episcopal Church, "the
Patriarchate of the East can claim to be the oldest
Patriarchate." His Holiness Maran Mar Eshai Shimun is the 119th
Patriarch in this glorious line. It may also be noted that the
Church of the East is variously called by various historians.
Some of the popular appellations are Assyrian Church, Nestorian
Church, Chaldean Syrian Church, etc." (Souvenir of India, The
Church of the East, p.49)

"....The Church of the East traces its origin directly back to
the original Apostles. One of its chapels founded by the Three
Wise Men on their return from Bethlehem, is still in use today in
the town of Resaieh, in Northern Iran. The Patriarch attended
that chapel as a boy." (Ibid., p.53)

     A noted special volume was published to commemorate the
visit to India of the Patriarch of the Church of the East. It
contains many references to the Apostolic tradition of that
church body and St.Thomas.

"....After establishing churches and ordaining clergy in the
Middle East, St.Thomas came to this country as deputed by his
Lord. Here, too, he instructed thousands and thousands of people
in the true faith of our Lord, baptised them in the name of the
Father, Son and Holy Ghost, set up churches for their worship and
ordained the necessary clergy to cater to their spiritual needs.
Afterwards he endured various persecutions and consequently
martyrdom for the belief and justice of our Lord, by a lance
thrust by miscreants deputed by King Mizdi." (Souvenir - India,
p.19)

"More than one thousand and nine hundred years ago, the holy
Apostle St.Thomas, after establishing the first Christian Church
among his own people in ancient Babylon, turned to India, led by
the Holy Spirit, and with an evangelical zeal traversed this
subcontinent preaching the good news and baptising those who
believed in Him. His words had 'fallen into good ground, bearing
fruit bringing forth a hundredfold' and spreading to countries
all over Asia. But by the vicissitudes of history, through the
centuries, this Church, founded on the blood of martyrs, has
become almost extinct, leaving a scattered remnant" (Ibid.,
Foreword)

     Dr.Michael Ramsay, Archbishop of Canterbury, acknowledges in
a letter the above claims, printed in the same volume, in the
following words:

"...Had there been time during my visit to India I would have
greatly welcomed an opportunity of visiting your ancient Church
of the East in India, with your proud claim of having been
founded by the great Apostle St.Thomas himself." (Ibid.,
Messages, p.17)

Traditions of the Syrian Indian Church

Dr.Edgar J. Goodspeed bears witness to the tradition of Syrian
Indian Church as follows:

"It is a striking fact that the so-called 'Acts of Thomas' relate
the mission of Thomas to India, and they were written early in
the third century, as modern authorities (Harnack, M.R.James)
agree. This goes far to confirm the legend of the Syrian Indian
church, that Thomas did indeed not only cross Parthia with his
message but actually penetrated India with it! These Acts have
some links with the first-century Indian history, also." (The
Twelve, Edgar J.Goodspeed, p.97)

Traditions of The Nestorian Church

     On the occasion of this writer's visit to Iran in 1971, he
held conferences with a number of noted Christian authorities.
Among them was His Excellency Yohannan S.Issayi, the archivist of
the Chaldean Catholic Library at Teheran. He was furnished a book
by a church historian, John Stewart, Ph.D. (Narsai Press,
Trichur, Kerala, India, 1928, 1961). In the introduction Stewart
writes: "The message must have been carried to the furtherest
confines of the Asiatic continent with almost the rapidity of a
prairie fire. It is evident St.Thomas arrived in India no later
than 49 A.D." (Introduction, p.27)

     Speaking of the Nestorians and their Apostolic origins
Stewart says, "The center of this marvelous church was first in
Edessa and then in the Persian province of Abiabene. There was a
large and widespread Christian community throughout the whole of
central Asia in the first centuries of the present era. Countries
such as Afganistan, and Tibet were centers of Christian
activity." (Introduction, p.27)

The Traditions of The Chaldean Catholic Church

     The learned and controversial Roman Catholic Cardinal
Tisserot writes: "Speaking of Persia the Chaldean said, The
Apostle Thomas accompanied by Jude were primary Apostles."
(Dictionaire De Theologie Catholique, A. Vacant, E. Mangenot, E.
Amann, p.162. Published 1931, Paris Librarie, Letoueny Et Ave.
87, Boulevard Raspail)

The Traditions of the Mar Thomar Syrian Church of South India

     The Metropolitan Juhanon Mar Thomar, the head of the Mar
Thomar Syrian Church of South India, in an interview with
Christian Life Magazine (November 1954, page 20) said, "According
to tradition the history of the Mar Thomar Syrian Church goes
back to the Apostle Thomas who landed, we are told, at Malabar,
South India in A.D.52 and founded several Christian churches.
This is supported only by early and strong traditions and that is
all we can say. Shut off by mountains on one side and the sea on
the other, the Christians at Malabar lived, more or less, a life
of isolation. Doctrinal controversies of the western church did
not concern them. Unaware of these controversies they welcomed
with open arms any Christians from foreign countries and
consequently were influenced by various eastern churches."

The Records of the Coptic Church Historians

     While this body of Christians has not taken an official
stand on the life of St.Thomas, the noted historian Aziz S. Atiya
speaks on the St.Thomas tradition:

"The congregations of South Indian Christians have always prided
themselves on a long-standing tradition that their Christianity
is apostolic and that it was introduced into Malabar by the
Apostle Thomas, after whom they call themselves.
The literary origin of this tradition is found in the apocryphal
Acts of Judas-Thomas ascribed to the famous Edessene writer
Bardesanes (154-222) towards the end of the second or the
beginning of the third century. It is said that a certain
Abbanes, a trade envoy to Syria was commissioned by the Indian
King Gondophares to seek an able architect from that country to
build a palace for him. The tradition states that he was directed
by Our Lord Himself in a Jerusalem market to St.Thomas, who
accompanied him back to India. There St.Thomas agreed with the
king to undertake that task in winter instead of during the usual
summer building season. At heart the saint really contemplated a
celestial and not a material palace. As he squandered the royal
funds in giving to the poor, the king seized him and put him in
prison. At that time the king's brother, Gad, died and at his
burial witnessed the untold splendour of the celestial palace
promised by the saint, then miraculously came back to life to
recount his wondrous vision. The king and his brother therefore
released the saint and accepted baptism at his hand. The
remaining parts of the Acts contain even more fabulous miracles
until in the end, the Apostle committed the church to the care of
a deacon named Zenopbus (or Xanthippus) and went away to preach
the Gospel in other parts where he earned the crown of martyrdom.
After his burial, a Syrian co-religionist transported his body
back to Edessa without the knowledge of the local king, who
eventually wanted to try to cure his sick son by means of the
saint's relic. Upon opening the grave, they found the body to be
gone, but earth from the tomb performed the miracle and healed
the ailing prince, and the whole royal family was converted to
Christianity.
Two schools of thought have arisen in regard to this apocryphal
tale. The first impulse of the scholar was to refuse outright the
whole episode as altogether unhistorical. Such was the reaction
of the old school. More recent thought has tended not to discard
the idea of St.Thomas's apostolate to India, though still
repudiating the legendary nature of the Acts. It has already been
pointed out that the sea route to South India was well used in
Roman times for the purpose of the pepper trade, and that Roman
gold and silver coins from the early centuries of our era have
been discovered in Malabarese soil. Syrians had reached India,
which is almost identical in the literature of the East Syrians
with our modern India. Moreover, startling numismatic evidence
has established the existence of both King Gondophares and his
brother Gad as bistoric figures and not simply legendary
characters. Their names have been found on excavated coins and in
a Gandhara inscription fixing their rule as about 19-45 A.D. in
Scytho-India in the Indus valley. Vestiges of St.Thomas
Christians are said to persist in secret parts of northern India,
for example at Tatta near the mouth of the Indus. It is thought
that the Apostle was driven from the Indian Parthian empire by
the descent of the Kushan invaders in the year 50 A.D. and that
he sailed to the island of Socotra, whence he reached South India
on a passing trade ship. Bishop Medlycott contends that the
climatic conditions specified by the Acta Thoma apply more to
South India than to the Punjab, and that the court life of
Gondophares benefits a ma haraja's household more than , Parthian
royal palace.
We may conjecture that St.Thomas the Apostle could have joined an
already existing colony of Jews, Greeks and Syrians at
Muziris-Cranganore on the shore of Malabar.
Whatever the outcome of these arguments, it is clear that
Christianity was planted in Malabar at a very early date,
certainly before the end of the second century, as testified by
Pantaenus." (A History of Eastern Christianity, Aziz S. Atiya, p
361-363)

Modern Historical Confirmation of First Century Travel to India

     While the following news item has nothing to do with St.
Thomas, as such, it confirms the fact that there was much
traveling from the Roman Empire to India in the first century. It
consists of a story which appeared in the L.A.Times (August 25,
1971, Part 1A). The story was headlined, "Ancient Jewish Colony
in India Disappearing."

COCHIN, India-The synagogue here celebrated its 400th anniversary
in 1968 and visitors included Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and
Jews from as far away as the United States. Now there is no
rabbi.
The white Jews along the Malabar Coast once numbered tens of
thousands. Now there are only 80.
The Jews of Cochin came to India in AD 72, driven from Jerusalem
by Roman legions. Now many - a critical number - are returning to
Israel.
The Cochin synagogue - others closed when the congregations
returned to Israel - contains many historic treasures. Among them
are the copper plates given by the local ruler in AD 379 to the
Jewish community, conveying a large land grant.

The reader will note several details of the above story which
confirm the likelihood of the historicity of the traditions of
early Christianity in India. The fact that a colony of Jews came
there in A.D.72 proves that the Jews of the first century knew
about this part of the world and that travel of even large groups
was possible. There was no question of an exploration of an
unknown continent. Further, the continuity of the Jewish
community demonstrates how a Christian community could also
continually exist from the first century until the present in the
same area. The references to the copper plates is similar to
several stories about this means of granting and certifying
political and property rights in ancient times.

Modern Scholarship

     There is one great work of scholarship which reveals a very
thorough study of the St.Thomas tradition in India, which seems
to confirm, its historicity. We are greatly indebted to the Roman
Catholic scholar, A.M.Mundadan, who wrote his doctoral
dissertation on St.Thomas at a German University in 1980, and
later expanded it into a book which the writer purchased at
the Vatican Bookstore in Rome early in 1971. The book is entitled
"The Traditions of the St.Thomas Christians." It was printed in
India and written in English. It reveals the author's superb
ability at research and presents a truly enormous amount of
documentation. We have excerpted the following information from
this book. One could only wish that we had as much information
about all the other apostles as Dr.Mundadan has provided about
St.Thomas.

     Dr.Mundadan deals with arguments regarding the Apostolate of
St.Thomas in India:

Quote:

"The Portuguese arrived in India at the end of the fifteenth
century. When they came they certainly possessed some vague
information concerning the aposto-late of St.Thomas in India. Not
long after their arrival they began to hear reports about the
existence of what was described as the 'house' and 'tomb' of St.
Thomas in Mylapore on the Choromandel Coast. But during the first
decade or two the Portuguese officials were so busy on the
Malabar Coast and in Goa that they could give practically little
attention to matters concerning Choromandel. It was only in the
early twenties of the sixteenth century that they made earnest
efforts to explore Choromandel and Mylapore and the 'house' of
St.Thomas.
For a review of the respective positions taken by different
scholars on this question we may refer the readers to a learned
article by Hambye S.J. in The Clergy Monthly. He classifies these
scholars into four groups: the first of these groups, in which is
included the Bollandist Peeters S.J., denies any kind of Indian
apostolate of St.Thomas; the second group is formed of those who
support the North Indian apostolate of the Apostle but deny or
disregard the South Indian apostolate; those who are strongly for
the North Indian apostolate but keep an open mind, ready to weigh
the pros and cons of the possibility of the South Indian
apostolate belong to the third class; the fourth group of
scholars, while trying to combine both the North Indian and South
Indian apostolates, consider the South Indian apostolate more
reliable.
Our source of knowledge for the Indian apostolate of St.Thomas
is a tradition because we do not possess any written account of
it contemporary to the apostolate as we have in St.Luke's 'Acts
of the Apostles' of St. Paul's activities and of some of St.
Peter's activities. The earliest written record about St. Thomas'
preaching in India is the
romantic apocryphal Acts of St.Thomas, written in Syriac towards
the end of the second century or by the beginning of the third
century. From the third century onwards we find frequent
allusions to the Parthian or Indian apostolate of St.Thomas in
the writings of the Church-Fathers and other ecclesiastical
writers. Beginning with the fourth century the tradition is
constant and unanimous in all the Churches.
The contents of the western tradition, whether it is single or
combined, may be summarised thus: Thomas the Apostle preached the
Gospel in Parthia and India, converted many, including
members of some royal family, suffered martyrdom there, and was
first buried in India itself; later his mortal remains were
transferred to the West (to Edessa) where they were honourably
deposited and venerated. The main source for this tradition is,
no doubt, the Acts of St.Thomas in which India is named the field
of St.Thomas' activity.
The third century writers up to the council of Nicaea assigned
the field to Parthia. But the post-Nicene writers consider it
India. This difference is the main basis for Hambye to
distinguish a double origin for the western tradition.
The Indian tradition is not so clearly uniform; it varies, as we
go from source to source and from place to place. The general
trend may be summarised here as follows: St.Thomas, one of the
twelve Apostles of our Lord came direct from the Near-East and
landed in Cranganore about 52 A.D.; he converted high caste Hindu
families in Cranganore, Palayur, Quilon etc.; consecrated priests
from some of these families; built some seven churches, erected
crosses; then passed over to the eastern coast and suffered
martyrdom there; his tomb is in Mylapore on the coast.
The western tradition is generally taken as based on the Acts of
St.Thomas. Thus the authors who deny any kind of historic value
for this work, deny absolutely the Indian apostolate of St.
Thomas; while those who assert the North Indian apostolate
attribute some historic value to the Acts. We are rather inclined
to think that the Acts cannot be the only source of the western
tradition, which is constant and unanimous from the beginning of
the fourth century, especially since the Acts are acknowledged by
certain Fathers already in the fourth century as apocryphal.
There must have existed already before the composition of the
Acts some element in the oral tradition about the apostolate of
St.Thomas, which probably formed the nucleus or the point of
departure for the romantic Acts. In establishing this historical
nucleus the double trend in the western tradition, suggested by
authors, if well explored, may be a step forward.
Although the Portuguese, from the early years of their arrival
in India, had begun to hear about the tomb of St.Thomas on the
Choromandel Coast, it seems that it was only in 1517 some of them
actually entered Mylapore to visit it.
The entire relics are known to have been removed from India to
Edessa and later to Ortona in Italy where now they rest.
According to the Acts of Thomas already before 200 A.D. the
bones of the Apostle must have been removed to the West: long
after the martyrdom and burial of St.Thomas a son of Mazdai the
ruler of the place where he was martyred falls sick; he then gets
the tomb of the Apostle opened to heal his son with the relics,
but the bones were not found, 'for one of the brethren had taken
them away secretly and conveyed them to the West'. St.Ephrem
recognises the relics, so much venerated at his time in Edessa,
as having been carried there from India by some merchants. To
them a Pontiff assigned a feast and a king built a shrine.
'St.John Chrysostom merely says that the site of St Thomas' tomb
is as much known as the sites of tombs of St.Peter, St.Paul and
St.John but he does not give any definite indication as its
location. The 5th century 'Martyologium Hieronimanum' assigns
July 3 as the commemoration day in Edessa of the translation of
the body of St.Thomas, who suffered in India.
Gregory of Tours (594 A.D.) gives an account of the monastery
of St.Thomas in India based on the report he had heard from a
monk called Theodor who had visited that monastery. The 6th
century Passio Thomae says that the body of St.Thomas after his
martyrdom was buried in honour, and great prodigies took place at
the tomb. At the request of the Syrians, the Roman Emperor
Alexander [sic] who had defeated the Xarse of Persia, ordered the
body to be brought from India to Edessa and kept in 'locello
argenteo quod pendit ex catenis argenteis.'
Mufazzal ibn Abil-Fazail (1358 A.D.), a Mohammedan historian, in
his history of the Mamlouk Sultans wrote: 'From there [Ceylon]
the pilgrims go to visit the monastery of Mar Touma, which
possesses the eternally living hand of one of the disciples of
Our Lord, the Messiah: in the monastery there is a vaulted niche,
in which is found the hand, and an oil flowing from the hand.'
We are quite justified in saying with Figredo that the
Portuguese did not discover the tomb. It was known to exist and
they were informed about it by European travellers, Armenian
merchants and the Christians of Malabar.
Thome Lopes, who accompanied V.da Gama on his second journey to
India in 1503 says that, among other events reported by them, the
Christians who came to meet Gama told the Portuguese how they
were conducting a big pilgrimage to the tomb of St.Thomas who
was buried near their country, and who worked many miracles.
The four Chaldean bishops, who arrived in India in 1503/4 and
who had intimate contacts with the Portuguese, reported to their
Patriarch: '....the House of the holy Apostle Thomas had begun
to be inhabited by some Christians who are thinking of its
restoration. But it lies at a distance of about 25 days' journey
from the said Christians, and it lies on the sea shore in a town
called Mailapur in the province of Silan, which is one of the
provinces of India.'
Another factor to be mentioned in this connection is that the
16th century Portuguese authors lacked the modern techniques of a
critical method of approach to those problems which they had to
deal in connection with the findings. That this is especially
manifested by their somewhat naive and credulous attitude towards
the alleged miracles, legends and pious stories. In spite of all
this we are convinced that what they record deserves credence as
a whole; the general un-desirable influences can be eliminated by
a sound and critical mind.

The House

"According to the unanimous tradition of the natives it was 1460
or 1470 years then after the holy house in Mylapore was built. It
was miraculously built by the Apostle himself. According to
Correa the house was called by the natives 'the house of the holy
man.'
All around the house was a plot of ground well fenced with very
high brushwood. The documents call the house indifferently
'house' or 'church.' It was very big and lay in a ruinous state.
Gomez gives us the following description of the house. 'It is
made in the fashion of our churches and lie East-West; it has
three doors: one at the entrance, another in the middle and the
third in the principal chapel. All the doors are lined with
sheets of iron and diamond-shaped studs of iron; the doors are of
wood worked out with skilful workmanship'. The house was 17 ells
long and 11 broad, according to D.Fernandez. Correa says more
precisely that from the principal doors to the entrance [sic] of
the chapel there was a distance of 12 ells and the chapel itself
was 5 ells. It had two side doors and three naves divided by
wooden pillars of fine workmanship. These pillars supported the
top beam which was also of fine work. Above the wood-work there
were walls of mortar reinforced with stones and reaching the
tiles roof. Outside the doors were kept water troughs for holy
water.
This is the main plan of the house, which, according to all
authors, was made in the fashion of the Portuguese churches
except for the fact that there was nothing but crosses inside the
church, and no images.
According to D.Fernandez the central chapel with its tower was
the one built by the Apostle. From this statement it would appear
that the side chapels and naves were later additions.
 
The Chapel

"According to what the Portuguese heard from the natives the body
of St.Thomas, who died on a mountain at a distance from the
house, was brought to the house and lay buried at that time in
the chapel on the righthand (on the Gospel side). In the chapel
on the Epistle side lay buried a disciple of the Apostle. Both
these chapels do not seem to have been larger than five and a
half ells, just large enough to enclose the bodies. As to the
identity of the disciple buried in the lefthand chapel (on the
righthand of the person looking), the authors seem to diverge in
opinion. According to Gomez, it was 'St.Mathias, a companion of
the Apostle.' For D.Fernandez and Correa he was the king of the
place, a converted Christian.
The Apostle was wounded in the cave on the Little Mount but in
his death agony, he got out of the cave and dragged himself to
the Big Mount where was the principal oratory, and where also
presumably were his disciples. There, wounded mortally, as he
was, he clasped a stone cross and recommended his soul to his
Master.
The traditions gathered by the Portuguese may be said to be
threefold, according to their sources: 1. the Malabar tradition
(what appears to have been told them by the people of Malabar,
especially the Christians of St.Thomas); 2. the Chaldean
tradition (what had been gathered from Chaldeans and Chaldean
books); 3. the Mylapore tradition (what the people of the
Choromandel Coast told the Portuguese). But it is often difficult
to distinguish the purely Malabar tradition from the Chaldean
one. Many of the traditions which the Jesuits found among the
Thomas Christians were in books of Chaldean origin. The Abuna who
gives testimony in 1533 openly declared that what he attested was
heard in his own country and in Malabar.
"That the Christians of St.Thomas possessed such folk-songs
commemorating the life, deeds and praises of St.Thomas is
attested to by many authors. In 1578 Francisco Dionysio, S.I.,
writing about the Apostle and the community founded by him,
introduces his narration with these words: 'What is written below
is known from the information supplied by old people; it is the
common and unanimous belief of all; they hold it as a well
handed-down tradition; they have put these things in their books
and their songs.' Maffei, after having described the Apostles
journey, miracles, death etc., says: 'All these were told to the
Portuguese by the Indians not only from oral tradition but also
from written annals. The Malabar children are wont to sing in
folk-songs the praises and the martyrdom of Thomas.'

The Itinerary of the Apostle

"The Apostle St.Thomas was sent by order of Christ to the parts
of India etc. He was accompanied by two other Apostles, 
St.Bartholomew and Judas Tadeus. Thomas with J.Tadeus went first
to Babylon, and passing Bacora went over to Qualexquadaqua where
J.Tadeus settled himself, converted many into Christianity and
built houses of prayer. At the time Abuna was giving the
testimony this place belonged to the Muslims and Arabs and there
were no Christians nor any house of prayer there. St.Bartholomew
passed over to Persia and lay buried in Tarao in a monastery in
Tabris, the land of Xequismael; there were still many Christians
and houses of prayer. St.Thomas leaving Judas Tadeus went to
Socotora and then to Mylapore and China, in Cabalia he converted
many and built a house of prayer. From there he returned to
Mylapore and lived on a hill one and a half leages [sic] away
from the place where afterwards was built his house.
Amador Correa who described the 1564 feast of the Thomas
Christians, says that this feast was in commemoration of the day
on which St.Thomas came to the end of his journey in a ship, 2
leagues away from Cranganore. Roz who knew the Chaldean tradition
from the Chaldean books and the local tradition, oral or written,
tells us that St.Thomas sold himself to a lord, ambassador of the
king of Bisnaga in order to come to India and preach the Gospel.
He preached and baptized many in Cambaya and the lands of Mogor,
Socotora, Malavar and Bisnaga reaching even China and great China
according to the Chaldean breviary of St.Thomas. There are
vestiges in those places even today of Christians. The Apostle
also preached to the Cafres.

Apostolate

"St.Thomas preached the gospel and baptized people in all the
places he went and founded churches. According to a stone
inscription which the Christians of St.Thomas read and
interpreted for Roz, the Apostle converted 3 principal kings of
India: that of Bisnaga called by them Xoren Porumal, that of
Pandi called Pandi Perumal and that of all Malabar called Xaran
Perumal. Fr.Guerreiro found in a Chaldean book that the Apostle
had converted six kings and three emperors: the emperors
correspond to Roz's three principal kings. The Pandi kingdom,
according to Guerreiro, corresponded to the then existing kingdom
of Cape Comorin.
The same source further attested that on the Choromandel Coast
there had been many churches in older times, all founded by the
Apostle. He began eight archbishoprics in those parts where he
preached. The names of those archbishoprics, as they were written
in Chaldean, were difficult to be identified. Only the following
could be clearly identified: Hindu, i.e., Malabar, Socotora,
Cambaia, Mogor, China, and Mahachina which should be, according
to the author, Cataio.
The Chaldean Abuna told the inquirers of 1533 that the Apostle
was murdered with a lance by a low caste. Barros has the
following version. The Apostle was murdered while preaching to
the people near a tank. At the instigation of the Brahmins he was
stoned by some people and he fell down. As he lay there almost
dead a Brahmin struck him with a lance and the saint breathed the
last. According to Dionysio the Apostle was martyred with a lance
while praying on a mountain about a league from the town and this
was done at the order of the king of, the place. Roz read from a
stone cross inscription that the Apostle died on the 21st of
December, in the 30th years of the promulgation of the Gospel.
Diego Couto who, as we saw, tried to combine the traditions
about the place of the Apostle's death, gives more details about
the manner of the death of the Apostle. The envious Brahmins who
had been discredited before the king by the virtue of St.Thomas,
went to kill him. Hearing that he was in the cave near the Little
Mount (which at the time of the Apostle was called Antenodur),
they stood near the slope of the mountain, where there was a
narrow opening to let in a little light, and looking through it
they found the Apostle on his knees with eyes closed, in a
rapture so profound that he appeared to be dead. The Brahmins
thrusting the lance through the opening wounded him mortally. It
is not proved where exactly the place was but all authorities are
in accord in saying that it was on the slope of a mountain. The
wound was about half a span deep. When the saint sighed, all the
murderers ran away and he in his death agony got out of the cave
and dragged himself to the Big Mount, and there he died.

"As to the possibility of St.Thomas preaching in India, whether
in North or South India, nobody can have any serious doubt. It is
repugnant to think that Christianity was preached from the
beginning only in the Roman empire and all the twelve Apostles
went westwards to the parts of the Roman empire. At the dawn of
Christianity there were trade routes connecting the West and the
East, routes very well frequented. The land routes reached parts
of N.India while the sea routes reached the coasts of Malabar
and other parts of South India. Hence no one can sensibly deny
the possibility of one or another of the twelve Apostles having
reached India and preached Christianity there.

"The next step is to fix what part of India is meant by this
tradition. The Acts apparently points to the North-West India.
But this does not necessarily mean that the original content of
the tradition, which probably is the historical nucleus of the
Acts, also pointed towards the same direction. For the early
Christianisation of North India we do not possess any actual
evidence as we have for that of South India. The South Indian
claim to the apostolate of St.Thomas is supported by two
monuments. One is the community of Thomas Christians who claim
their origin as Christians from the Apostle Thomas, as had been
demonstrated in the previous pages and also as will be
demonstrated in the next chapter. The second monument is the tomb
of Mylapore concerning which we have seen so much in this first
part of the book. As it had been noted above, almost in every
century (from the time of the Acts of Judas Thomas) there is
groping for the tomb of the Apostle in 'India'. As time went on
there was progress in identifying it first with Calamina and then
with Myluph and so on. The clear 'terminus ad quem' of this
progress is the tomb in Mylapore, which is definitely identified
as the tomb of the Apostle by the thirteenth century. It is
remarkable that no other place inside or outside India ever
claimed so definitely the possession of the tomb.
Whatever be the conclusion from these facts as to certainty, or
high probability, of the South Indian apostolate of St.Thomas,
and as to the origination from the Apostle of the Christians of
St.Thomas, we should think that we are entitled to say at least
this much: in the light of these facts the position of those who
deny the South Indian apostolate of St.Thomas is much more
difficult to demonstrate than that of those who assert it.
As for the relies, it is very probable, as has been suggested
earlier, that the early Portuguese explorers did not know
anything about the alleged translation of the relies to Edessa
and later to Ortona and hence they believed that they discovered
the whole body of the Apostle in the tomb. But it is very clear
that they did not actually discover the whole body from their own
testimony.
However, their belief persisted.
From all this what we may probably conclude is that there
existed at one time or other a community of Christians on the
Choromandel Coast, which owing either to some natural calamities
or to some antagonism of the other inhabitants of the place (this
antagonism need not necessarily be a religious persecution) left
that coast and incorporated themselves with the Christian
community of Malabar.
We have already seen that a certain Syrian merchant named Thomas
of Cana is connected with the origins or rather the early history
of the community of St.Thomas Christians. This man, who
apparently had a very great influence in the community, is one of
the figures which, to some extent, obfuscate the tradition
concerning the Apostle of the same name. However we shall see
that the Malabar tradition either as it is recorded by the
Portuguese or by the local accounts, oral or written, is always
careful to distinguish Thomas, the Apostle from Thomas of Cana.
After the death of Thomas the Apostle, the Malabar Church was
left without a preacher and leader, and after 93 years there were
no priests at all. At that time a pagan magician called
Manikabashar appeared; he went to Mylapore and worked wonders by
his magic; seduced many Christians from the true faith. Those who
remained faithful took refuge in Malabar and were kindly received
by the believing brethren there. After that the 160 Christian
families were for several long periods left without priests and
leaders; divisions also sprang up among them at different times
for various reasons. Some of them left the orthodox faith but
others persevered. 96 families lapsed while 64 persevered.
In a vision one night the Metropolitan of Edessa saw the sad
plight of the Malabar Christians and the next day narrated his
vision to the Catholicos of the East. The latter, on hearing his
dream, sent messengers to all the churches, monasteries and towns
under his jurisdiction and summoned all the Christians before
him. Great multitudes, with their respective bishops and
merchants gathered near the Catholicos who addressed them and
told them of the vision. One of the faithful, a certain
merchant Thomas of Jerusalem told the Catholicos that they had
heard about Malabar and India from strangers. The Catholicos
ordered him to visit Malabar and report to him. Thomas,
accordingly, departed and arrived in Maliamkara, where he saw the
Christians of St.Thomas. They narrated to him everything. After
consoling them he returned home and reported to the Catholicos
everything about themselves. The Catholicos was ready to
sacrifice even his life for the Christians of Malabar. Thomas
returned to Malabar with the bishop who had had the vision,
priests and deacons, men, women and children from Jerusalem,
Bagdad and Nineveh. They all landed at Maliamkara in 345 A.D.
The native Christians joyfully received them and after having
taken council with one another, all proceeded together to
'Sharkun', the king of all Malabar. The latter complied with all
their wishes, gave them as much land as they wanted; and
conferred upon them the royal honours and inscribed the grant and
the honours on copper plates which were still preserved among the
Christians at the time of this writing. Then they returned and
built a church and a town. The church was erected in the land of
Kuramaklur, which was given by the king to them. The newly built
town stretched from East and 472 families dwelt in it with
authority.
From that time onwards Syrian Fathers used to come to the town
by order of the Catholicos of the East, because it was from him
that the Syrians used to go to other parts of the world until
they were superseded. These Syrian Fathers governed the dioceses
of India and Malabar. In 813 the Syrian Fathers Mar Saper and Mar
Parut, accompanied by the illustrious Sabrisho came to India and
reached Kullam. They went to the emperor, the Shaldrbirti, and
obtained land from him on which they erected a church and a town
in the district of Kullam; and to Kullam, Syrian bishops and
Metropolitans used to come by order of the Catholicos who sent
them.
There is evidence that there were specialized people and
educational centres for the training of the clergy, perhaps for
only a select few. Thus Joseph the Indian could tell the
Venetians: They (the Christians of St.Thomas) have excellent
doctors; study of letters; they have the books of the prophets
just as we.... 
Goes follows suit: Their doctors teach the Old and New Law,
especially the prophets in public schools. Some of them
are well versed in the Law. Dionysio from his own personal
knowledge wrote that the Thomas Christians had many doctors who
interpreted the Sacred Scriptures; that they esteemed St.John
Chrysostom much; that they had many apochryphal histories.
That the Christians had in their possession many books had been
already alluded to. Joseph the Indian said in Venice that the
Christians of Malabar had many books of the doctors besides the
Bible and the Prophets. Goes says, 'They have the same books of
the Old and New Law as in the Canon of the Roman Church, written
in Hebrew and Chaldean ... They have the books of the doctors
which expose the Law...'
Some of the better educated among the priests were specially
trained to preach. Goes says that there were preachers among them
who ordinarily preached to them during the whole year. Dionysio
tells us how the preaching was performed. These Christians love
sermons, and sermons are delivered to them by those cathenars who
know something. Their method of preaching is to narrate stories
one after another without any regard to sequence or to the
suitability of the occasion. They enjoy preaching for two or
three hours at a stretch.
According to Dionysio there were no special vicars or curates in
any church but all cathenars held equal rights in administering
sacraments and burying the dead etc. However, an old priest was
held in greater respect. The income was equally distributed among
them.
Joseph the Indian said in Venice: 'The temples of the Christians
are made in our (the Western) fashion, except for the fact that
they have only crosses in their churches. At the summit of the
church also there is a cross. They have no bells.' All are agreed
as to the fact that in the church there were no images but only
crosses. Penteado wrote to the king in 1518/18: They have crosses
in their churches on the altars as well as engravings, but no
images or engraved outlines of profiles and faces. They are
astonished to hear that we have images because they say that St.
Thomas had prohibited them. Our men have begun to introduce
images (faces) and they see it.
Penteado was told by the Christians that they had only a general
confession and that they confessed to God in a clear voice all
together. What Carneiro and his companions observed was that they
did not go to confession before receiving communion. Further,
confession among them was not frequent, and it appeared that some
who went to confession did so because of their social
communication with the Portuguese. Dionysio wrote in 1578 that
previously confession among them was not considered necessary and
on their death beds they received the sacrament without
confessing; but at the time of his writing, confession and
communion had been introduced among them.
The account of Joseph the Indian and of Goes are identical when
they say that the Christians had no extreme unction but in its
place the sick were blessed by the priest." (Traditions of St.
Thomas Christians, A. M. Mundadan, p.38-173)

End Quote


Comments By Various Scholars on the Life of St.Thomas

     In the book "Traditions of the St.Thomas Christians" from
which we have excerpted at great length, there is a foreword
by Georg Schurhammer, S.J., written in Rome, December 1, 1965
which treats the question of the Mylapore tomb of St.Thomas, and
its traditions, and points to a new argument for the authenticity
for the tomb. It was originally reported before a conference at
the University of Freiburg in Breisgau:

"The bricks in the oldest existing portion in the southern wall
of the tomb are about 15.5 inches long, 8 inches wide and 3
inches thick. Mr.A.Longhurst, Superintendent of the
Archaeological Department, Southern Circle, of India, who
inspected the tomb in 1921, declared that these bricks were of
great antiquity, because they were of the kind found in the
Buddhist stupas, only that those were larger: 20 x 10 x 3 Inches.
Twenty-four years later, in 1945, excavations were made south of
Mylapore in Arikamedu near Pondicherry and, for the first time in
India, a Roman trading station was discovered, founded in the
beginning of the first century A.D. In the oldest layer the
buildings were of wood and the ceramics found were of the first
century. In the second layer the buildings, begun about 50 A.D.
and abandoned before the end of the first century, were of
bricks, and the bricks of these buildings were similar to those
of the tomb of St.Thomas in Mylapore, of the average size of 15.5
x 8 x 3 inches( The bricks of the buildings, added in the second
century have all already a different size."


     Asbury Smith (op. cit., p.103-107) reports an interesting
insight from the "Acts of St.Thomas the Apostle to India":

"There is an ancient tradition that Thomas carried the Gospel to
India. The Acts of Saint Thomas the Apostle to India, a
manuscript that goes back to the second or third century, is the
oldest written record in support of this tradition.
In 'The Acts of Saint Thomas' the apostles are shown as dividing
the world among themselves for evangelistic activity. When Thomas
was assigned India, he protested, 'I cannot go there because of
the fatigue of the body on the journey, for I am a Hebrew. Jesus
then appeared to Thomas, urging him to go to India, but he
continued to resist, saying, 'I would that Thou wouldst send me
into another country, for unto the country of India I cannot go:
'It was then that our Lord showed himself to Abbanes, a merchant
from India, and sold Thomas to him as a slave. Thomas recognizing
himself as Jesus' slave, yields, and thus came to India as a
slave of Abbanes.
Until a few decades ago no record existed of a king named
Condaforus and this story was considered entirely legendary. But
recent excavations have established that a king by the name of
Gondaforus did reign in North India during the time Thomas might
have lived there. Coins and inscriptions have been unearthed
bearing Gondaforus' name. This leaves to be explained the
presence of Thomas in North India when the Christians who bear
his name seem always to have centered in South India. Dr.J.N.
Farquhar explains this by saying that Thomas remained in North
India until war destroyed Gondaforus and his kingdom, and then he
went to South India. Hazel E. Foster thinks that 'this
reconstruction of what may have happened has a good historical
underpinnings as have the various stories regarding the origin of
other ancient churches.'
Bishop Philipose Mar Chrysostom of Kottayam, a delegate to the
World Council of Churches, expressed the opinion of the Indian
Christians when in September, 1954, he said to a small group in
Washington, D.C.: 'Yes, I feel sure that Saint Thomas founded our
church. Surely Thomas would have preached the Gospel somewhere.
Since India is the only country that claims him; he must have
preached in India and founded the Mar Thoma Church.'

"In 1952 the Syrian Christians celebrated the 1900th anniversary
of the arrival of Thomas in their country. In connection with
this celebration the World Council of Churches held three
important meetings. The Study Committee and the Central Committee
met at Lucknow and the World Council of Christian Youth met at
Kottayam.
Aside from the tradition that Thomas founded the Church in India
little is known of the early history of this ancient Syrian
Church. Unfortunately when the Portuguese arrived in India they
destroyed the church records, hoping thereby to destroy what they
considered a heretical brand of Christianity.
Thomas, tradition says, died a martyr's death on a mountain now
called Mount Thomas in Mylopur, a suburb of Madras. His death was
accomplished by piercing with a lance. A shrine erected by the
Portuguese marks the sacred site.
A hymn of praise recorded in 'The Acts of Thomas' expresses the
great honor given the church by the Syrian Christians:

'The church is she in whom is the splendor of royalty. She is
pleasant of aspect and lovely. Beautiful is she to him that
looketh upon her. Her garments are like unto flowers of every
kind, and the odor thereof cometh forth and anointeth the
head.... Truth is upon her head, and joy with her feet'

"The Acts of Thomas gives a description of the all-night service
used by Thomas to receive Condaforus into the Christian Church:

'They brought oil and lighted many lamps, for it was night.
Then the Apostle rose up, and prayed over them with his voice,
saying, Peace be unto you, O my brethren. Now they heard the
voice only, but they did not see his form, for as yet they had
not received baptism, and the Apostle took the oil and poured it
over their heads, and recited prayers over them, and he answered
and said, Let the name of Christ, which is over all things, come,
Let the name which is holy, and exalted, and perfect in mercy,
come, Let thy mercy come, Let that which is a hidden mystery
come, Let the mother of the seven mansions come, and let thy rest
be in the eighth habitation.'"

End Quote

     Mundadan, already quoted, describes the recent history of
the tomb of St.Thomas:

"In the four hundred years between 1523 and 1903 the tomb in
Mylapore was broken open three times for one reason or other: in
1523 the first Portuguese excavation took place; in 1893-1896 the
present Gothic cathedral was built; in 1903 the tomb was widened
westward when the present crypt was built in commemoration of the
tri-centenary of the erection of the Mylapore diocese."
(Mundadan, op. cit, p.11)

     Dorman Netmwn, though not a modern scholar, wrote about the
Apostle Thomas in 1685.
     Newman was, within his limits, a careful and critical
scholar. As far as we know only one copy of his book exists and
that is in the British Museum Library:

"the Apostolical assigned to St.Thomas was Parthia. Afterwards he
preached the gospel to the Medes, Persians, Carmans, Horcany,
Bactria, and neighboring nations. In Persia he met with the Wise
Men whom he baptized and took along with him. Thence he preached
in and passed through Aethiopia and came to India. Though he was
afraid, a vision assured him of the divine presence to assist
him. The Portugals assure us that St.Thomas came first to
Socotara, an island in the Arabian Sea, thence to Canyanor where
having converted many he travelled further into the east. He
returned to Carmandal where he began to erect a place of
Christian worship until prohibited by the Priest and Prince of
the Country. But upon conviction of several miracles the work
went on and the Sagamo (King) himself embraced the Christian
faith. The Brachmans (sic) [BRAHMANS, i.e. Sacrificial priests,
E.N. BR. v 14, p.396] who perceived that this would spoil their
trade, (i.e. profession) and in time extirpate the religion of
their country, thought it time to put a stop to its growing and
resolved in council to put the Apostle to death.
Thomas habitually met with his followers in a tomb not far from
Carmandal. The Brachmans and their followers pursued him to that
place. While he was intent in prayer, they ran him through with
darts, sontes, and dispatched him with a lance. His body was
buried in the church he had built.
While one of the Viceroys of Portugal resided in these parts
there were brought unto him certain brass tablets, whole
inscriptions that none could read, till at last by help of a Jew
they were found to contain nothing but a donation made to St.
Thomas of a piece of ground for the building of a church. They
tell of a famous cross found in St.Thomas his chapel wherein
there was an unintelligible character which a learned Brahmin
rendered to this effect; That Thomas a Divine person was sent to
whole countries by the Son of God, in the days of King Sagamo, to
instruct them in the things of the true Cod, that he built a
church and performed admirable miracles but while upon his knees
in prayer was thrust through with a spear and that the cross
stained with his blood was left as a memorial of these matters."
("The Lives and Deaths of The Holy Apostles," Dorman Newman, pp.
75-80)


THE BURIAL PLACE OF ST.THOMAS

     It has been, it would seem, rather well established that
Thomas was buried in Mylapore, India, now a suburb of Madras. In
her interesting devotional book, "By Post To The Apostles,"
p.62, Helen Homan refers to the history of the treatment of the
remains of St.Thomas, evidently from the Catholic Encyclopedia.
She says it is accepted as fact that some of the bones of St.
Thomas were transported to Edessa in Mesopotamia. She describes
bow the Crusaders evidently carried them to the island of Chios
and tells how later Manfred, Prince of Taranto carried them by
ship to Ortona, in Italy where they were placed in a great
Cathedral. After this the Turks sacked Ortona and rifled the tomb
for suspected treasure, but after this the Italians restored all
they could.

     Mary Sharp in "A Traveller's Guide to Saints in Europe," (p.
207) reports the results of her research concerning the relics of
St.Thomas. "They are," she says, "reputed to be at Goa and
Meliapore in India, and at Ortona, Italy. The finger is in the
church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Rome." She adds, "In the
church of Mylapore (now Meliapore) is a stone cross - The Thomas
Cross of the sixth to eighth century, which is said to mark the
place where his body was buried until taken to Edessa in the
fourth century."

     She concludes, "However wild the stories about St.Thomas in
his Acts, the names of Gundaphor and Gad, the Indian rulers he is
said to have encountered, have recently been shown to exist, as
they issued coins which have survived."

     A Guide Book published by The Church of the Holy Cross
(Santa Croce) entitled, "The Sessorian Relics of the Passion of
Our Lord" by Bedini, claims that in this church:

"....is preserved the index finger of St.Thomas. Some say that
this relic has been in Santa Croce from the time of St.Helen. In
the basilica there is an altar dedicated to St.Thomas. The
reliquary, which was remade after the French revolution, is
shaped like a chalice at the bottom. Above the knob two palms,
the symbol of the martyrdom of the apostle, entwine in the shape
of a crown surmounted by a cross with rays. In the centre of the
crown is inserted an oval case with both sides of crystal. In the
middle of the case arises a holder in the shape of a finger with
two openings in the side. Through the openings the phalanges of
the venerated Finger can be clearly seen." ("The Sessorian Relics
of the Passion of Our Lord," D. Balduino Bedini, pp.62-3)

     It is evident that Thomas, who as a disciple was pessimistic
and filled with doubt, became a vigorous missionary. The weight
of scholarship has grown so great, concerning his mission to
Babylon, Persia and India, that it must be accepted as probable.
The stories of Thomas, like those of several others of the
Apostles, provide a record which throws much light on the world
of the first century beyond the borders of the Roman Empire. In
turn, as the history of the first century in that area is brought
to light by contemporary scholars, it throws much light on the
life of St.Thomas.

     Our views of history are entirely too provincial in many
instances. The Romans ruled a great deal of the "known" world,
but we must not conclude that there was no civilization beyond
the borders of that empire. The story of the life of St.Thomas
has proved this. We are forced to the conclusion that there are
many authentic strands of Apostolic Christianity which have
survived to this day that are not traceable to the evangelization
and ecclesiasticism of the Western churches. In studying the
history of the East one gets the feeling somewhat akin to that
visiting a "new" planet and discovering that Christianity has
been there all along.
     The one great insight about St.Thomas himself, which comes
to us from the history of "St.Thomas in Babylonia and India," is
that he was a fearless evangelist and a great builder of
churches. Those people in the modern world who would accept
Christianity but who would reject the church (i.e., assembly or
local congregation) as the central human instrument in the
strategy of God have divorced themselves from the Apostolic
tradition. Were the Apostles to return to earth today, they would
have little time for those who imagine there can be a churchless
Christianity. Such "Christianity," if we even dare call it that,
is incapable of survival.

     If we would have Christianity survive, our first loyalty
must be to the One whom St.Thomas called "My Lord and my God",
and secondly to the only divinely ordained institution on earth,
the local assembly or congregation of His people. No one can
estimate how many millions of Christians came to believe in
Christ because of St.Thomas. They are beyond counting.
The churches which St.Thomas founded in India have kept
Christianity alive and extended the faith which survives there to
this day.

     Both the churches and the Apostolic faith with which St.
Thomas identified himself were, of course, subjected to change,
decay and even corruption. Human beings inevitably produce these
effects. But to this day missionaries in India report that the
pure message of the New Testament is still welcome, and is still
effective among the St.Thomas Christians there.

                           .....................

Entered on this Website March 2008


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