Friday, October 22, 2021

Saint Thomas the Apostle – Feast Day – July 3

Saint Thomas the Apostle was also called Didymus (Twin), the Doubting Thomas or the Apostle of India. He was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus who doubted that Jesus had resurrected. He was born in the 1st century AD in Galilee, Judea, Roman Empire, and died in 72 AD after he was stabbed with a spear while in prayer on St. Thomas Mount in Mylapore, Chennai, India. His feast day is celebrated on July 3 every year in the Catholic Church.

St Thomas the Apostle Biography
Saint Thomas the Apostle
Date of Birth 1st-century AD
Place of Birth Galilee, Judea, Roman Empire
Profession One of the twelve apostles of Jesus
Place of Work India, parts of Asia and Roman Empire
Date of Death July 3 72 AD
Place of Death St Thomas Mount in Mylapore, Chennai, India
Feast Day July 3
Canonization Pre-Congregation
Patron Saint of
  • Architects
  • India
  • Saint Thomas Christians
  • Sri Lanka

Saint Thomas the Apostle Life History

There are several instances where St Thomas is mentioned in the Bible.

👉 When Lazarus had died in Bethany in Judea and Jesus wanted to go back there, the disciples feared that the area was still hostile to them. The Gospel of John highlights this about Thomas;

14 So then Jesus said to them clearly, “Lazarus has died.
15 And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him.”
16 So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.”

John 11:14-16

👉 Thomas is also mentioned in John 14:3-6 where when Jesus explained that he will go and prepare a place for the apostles, Thomas asked a question;

3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.
4 Where [I] am going you know the way.
5 Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:3-6

👉 St Thomas became renowned as the doubting Thomas after he said the famous quote that “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” But he, later on, believed after Jesus Himself appeared again.

24 Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.
25 So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
28 Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

John 20:24-29

St Thomas is regarded as the Apostle of India because his evangelization mission took the route to Asia and ended in India.

Christians in India say that Saint Thomas the Apostle landed in Muziris (which in modern-day is called Cranganore) on the Kerala coast in India in 52 AD.

In Kerala, he established several churches and communities in

  1. Kodungallur
  2. Palayoor
  3. Kottakkavu (Paravur)
  4. Kokkamangalam
  5. Niranam
  6. Nilackal (Chayal)
  7. Kollam
  8. Thiruvithamcode.

When an attack happened, St Thomas left northwest India and traveled to the Malabar Coast, and landed at the port of Muziris. Here, he preached the Gospel along the Malabar coast and founded various churches. He ordained teachers and leaders or elders, who propelled Christianity to the next level after he died.

It is also believed that St Thomas also evangelized in China. There is a breviary of the Chaldean Church which is written, “Through St Thomas, the Chinese and Ethiopians were converted to the truth, they accepted the sacrament of baptism and the adoption of sons, they believed in and confessed the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit, and they preserved the accepted faith of the one God.”

St Thomas also evangelized in Indonesia and Paraguay. There is a place in Paraguay where he preached, there is a cross piled up of three large stones. This place is visited and held in great veneration by the natives.

While the other apostles went to Jerusalem to witness Mary, the Mother of God’s death, Saint Thomas the Apostle was still in India. But he witnessed the Assumption of Mary into heaven. After her burial, St Thomas was taken to her tomb and he saw her bodily assumption into heaven when her girdle was left behind. The other disciples doubted Thomas’ story until they visited her tomb and found only Mary’s girdle.

St Thomas Death

St Thomas died as a martyr at St Thomas Mount in Mylapore, Chennai, India on July 3 72 AD, when a fowler shot at him and claimed he was aiming at a peacock.

St Thomas Relics

In 232 AD, part of the relics of St Thomas Apostle were sent by the Indian king called “Mazdai”, “Misdeos” or “Misdeus” from Mylapore to the city of Edessa, Mesopotamia. A Church was constructed on the spot where the remains were kept.

In 1258, the relics were translated to Chios and later transported to the Cathedral of St Thomas the Apostle in Ortona, Italy. However, the skull of St Thomas is believed to be in the Greek island of Patmos at the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian.

The San Thome Basilica Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, which was first built in the 16th century, is presently located at the tomb where St Thomas was first buried.

St Thomas feast day

It is in the 9th century when the feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle was added to the Roman calendar and assigned to December 21. It was later transferred in 1969, and now we celebrate the feast day on July 3.

Attributes

St Thomas the Apostle is often attributed as

  • The Twin
  • Placing his finger in the side of Christ
  • Spear – depicting the means of his Christian martyrdom
  • Square – depicting his profession as a builder

St Thomas the Apostle is the patron saint of

  • Christians in India,
  • Saint Thomas Christians
  • Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore
  • Sri Lanka
  • Pula (Croatia)

Today’s Catholic Quote

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

Saint Thomas the Apostle
Saint Thomas the Apostle

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