St Thomas in India

Christianity came to India’s west coast in the first or second century AD.  Syrian Christians in Kerala believe that it was St. Thomas himself, one of Jesus’s 12 apostles, “Doubting Thomas”, who arrived in the first century to start the early church.  And it is also believed fervently by Tamilnadu Christians that he headed East across the peninsula and preached in Chennai, where he was martyred and buried. I’m staying in that part of the city, now called San Thome, and the San Thome Cathedral is nearby, a very holy place for Christian Indians.


The history is fascinating.  Although India is barely 3% Christian ( in spite of many missionaries who came from Scotland, England, America, the Netherlands, and the Portuguese among others) over many centuries, Christianity has made a big mark on India, with schools, universities and hospitals founded by Christians.

San Thome is full of Catholic schools and folk.  I will post more details after I visit the St. Thomas museum nearby, where some of his bones are reputed to lie.



4 Comments Add yours

  1. Carol says:

    Who knew? What a surprise? I have heard musings that from age 12-10 Jesus may have spent time in India. Maybe.


  2. I’m so glad I’m able now to access these brilliant snippets of rare and valuable historical and cultural perspective. I’ve visited St.Thomas Cathedral there in Chennai (used to be Madras)many years ago. I also remember visiting the shrines devoted to St. Thomas over in Cochin. Have you visited there? St.Thomas apparently ‘got around’ quite a bit…. and is still revered. The Mar-Thoma Church in Kerala, I believe, is very much alive and well.


    1. The story of St. Thomas in Kerala seems more plausible. That he made his way to Madras area and was killed here seems less plausible. Anyway, somehow Christianity came to Kerala a LONG time ago- someone brought it! I think it’s a wonderful story. Looking for an excellent BBC documentary by William Dalrymple on the real possibility that St. Thomas did arrive in Kerala- if I find it online, I’ll post it.


  3. Adele Strasser says:

    I appreciate hearing of the melding of religions within one culture. In Bhutan I engaged a young man in conversation at a week long ‘prayer for world peace’ by Buddhist Monks. He said he was a Muslim Buddhist – or did he say Buddhist Muslim?


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