Thursday, May 15, 2008

Doubting Thomas

He may have doubted the resurrection of Jesus, but there is no refuting the fact that St. Thomas the apostle travelled east, reached the shores of Kerala at Kodungalloor (or, as Ptolemy had it, Cranganore) and after many good works there and elsewhere, arrived at Mylapore around 50 CE. There he lived until the local priests were vexed with his actions, upon which he was hounded out of Mylapore, up the Parangimalai (today called St. Thomas Mount), where he was attacked with a lance and killed.

St. Thomas' life and times are too rich to be detailed here (Wikipedia does have exhaustive information) and there is considerable debate over where he actually spread the gospel. But I haven't heard of any other version of where he spent his last days. In any event, the belief that he was martyred atop St. Thomas Mount has been held over centuries - by the locals first and then by the invading Portugese and the British colonizers.

The Cathedral of St. Thomas was last re-built by the British towards the end of the 19th century. In 1956, Pope Pius XII raised it to the level of a Minor Basilica - it's proper name today is 'Basilica of the National Shrine of St. Thomas'. But I would support any argument that puts this basilica on par with St. Peter's. Come on, it is one of only 3 churches that were built over the tombs of Jesus' apostles (St. Peter's in Rome and St. James' in Galicia being the others). Oh sure, it does not have the grandeur of the other two, but that's no reason to forget what it is there for.

Even the official website of the basilica moans the fact that many are unaware of the importance of the shrine! How about you - are you a doubter, too?

1 comment:

Jose said...

Pity that there aren't photos, plans or drawings of the old catedral and of the old S. Tomé central places of the old portuguese city.