St Thomas

For my column this month, I thought I would give you all a profile on a well known but often misunderstood Saint.

Everyone knows the story of doubting Thomas, from John 20:24-29, indeed it’s what he’s famous for. What is not widely known, is that he was the Apostle to the Indians. There is even a book which bears his name, The Acts of St. Thomas, however it was written too late to be included in the Bible.

After the Apostles received the Great Commission from the Lord, it fell to Thomas to travel to India and preach the Gospel there. He was more than a little apprehensive of this, but after the Lord appeared to him in a night vision saying; “Fear not, Thomas. Go away to India and proclaim the Word, for my grace shall be with you”, he finally went. While in India he worked in the court of King Gondophernes. He converted the King and his brother to the faith. Legend has it he was put in charge of building a new palace for the King. Thomas decided to teach the King a lesson about pride and diverted the money to charitable work, thus storing up riches in heaven. It is believed he then left northwest India when the area was under threat of invasion. He left by ship to the Malabar Coast to Cranganore where he founded seven churches which stand to this day. He ordained Priests and Deacons to minster to the congregations he founded which numbered 17,000 in all. This was the start of what is now the Syro-Malabar Church, now in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

One tradition says that Thomas was martyred in Chennai in AD 72 in unknown circumstances and his body was interred there. However, Marco Polo writing in the 13th Century says his death was an accident. St. Thomas’ Mount, believed to be the site of the martyrdom, has been a site revered by Hindus, Muslims and Christians alike. We never know where faith in Jesus will take us in life; some are called to pass the faith to their children and grandchildren, others are sent to the ends of the earth. We all have a gospel to proclaim and we all have a ministry for Christ.

Paul Wheeler (Curate)  23/10/20