How solid is the history of Saint Thomas Christians?


#1

I have always been intrigued by them, and I feel like I know the least about this Eastern Catholic/Christian group.

So did St Thomas really go to India? What can we learn about their apostolic traditions and what they hold in common with other Christian traditions? How is the Eucharist celebrated? Etc.

Any of you guys here on CAF?


#2

The Syro-Malankara Church uses the West-Syriac rite, while the Syro-Malabar uses the East-Syriac rite. The parishes I have visited generally celebrate the Qurbana in Malayalam.


#3

What we know about St Thomas comes to us from Tradition. He is said to be buried in India.

Death
Martyrdom of St. Thomas by Peter Paul Rubens

According to Syrian Christian tradition, Saint Thomas was allegedly killed at St.Thomas Mount, in Chennai, in 72 A.D. and his body was interred in Mylapore.[34] Ephrem the Syrian states that the Apostle was martyred in India, and that his relics were taken then to Edessa. This is the earliest known record of his martyrdom.[35]

The records of Barbosa from early 16th century inform that the tomb was then maintained by a Muslim who kept a lamp burning there.[36]:237 The San Thome Basilica Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India presently located at the tomb was first built in the 16th century by the Portuguese and rebuilt in the 19th century.[37] St. Thomas Mount has been a revered site by Hindus, Muslims and Christians since at least the 16th century.[36]:31


#4

I was intrigued to read yesterday that there’s a ancient tradition in Paraguay that he also evangelized there. Historians think it is unlikely, but the deep tradition leads one to speculate…


#5

Nobody from the Middle East, Europe or wherever went to any South American country 2000 years ago. Paraguay did not even exist as a country then.


#6

Not a problem, there are several saints who bilocated, able to physically be somewhere else. St. Padre Pio was one. Mary of Agreda visited the Native Americans. So the natives in the country now known as Paraguay could have possibly been visited by St. Thomas.

https://www.traditioninaction.org/History/B_014_Agreda_2.html


#7

I went to Kerala last year and the was a huge majority Christian presence in the places I visited.

Apparently Kerala was part of the 'Syrian diocese in the early centuries before creating their own diocese. The church I attended mass at was next to an eighth century Syrian church.

There are churches everywhere and connections and remembering of saint Thomas.

The stories go that he was martyred in the neighbouring province of Tamil Nadu.


#8

The tradition is held with the indigenous people of what was to become Paraguay and Brazil. Beautiful tradition! Here’s a website on it:
https://www.traditioninaction.org/religious/h150_Tomas.htm


#9

I don’t think anybody in the Church believes that!


#10

I do. Why not? Jesus gives all sorts of powers to saints. The Church is full of such manifestations.
Feel free not to believe yourself but don’t attempt to speak for all Catholics. We ARE the Church.


#11

The St. Thomas Christians are an ancient ethno-religious community of Kerala, India. Whether or not St. Thomas the Apostle came to India cannot be proved nor disproved. However sources as early as the second and third century write of Thomas the Apostles mission in India. Such documentation can be seen in the works of Ambrose of Milan, Gregory of Nazianzus, Jerome, and Ephrem the Syrian. At the same time Eusebius of Caesarea records that St. Clement of Alexandria’s teacher Pantaenus from Alexandria visited a Christian community in India using the Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew language in the 2nd century.

Besides the Roman records available, St. Thomas’ mission and journey are strongly apart of the folk tradition of the St. Thomas Christians. What’s particularly interesting is that an ancient round - dance called Margam Kali of the St. Thomas Christians sings word for word the Gnostic Acts of Thomas written in the third century. The Acts of Thomas describe the entire mission of St. Thomas in India, starting from his arrival to his martyrdom.

Later these Christians made a connection with the Church of the East from the 4th century onward. After this point they became East Syrian Christians and had a metropolitante under the Church of the East in the city of Angamaly. The prelate of Angamaly would hence forth be known as the Metropolitan and Gate of All India.

The Knanaya Christians (an ethnic group found within the St. Thomas Christians) and are said to be the descendants of Thomas of Cana, an enterprising Syrian merchant prince who led a group of 72 families to Kerala anywhere between the 4th and 9th century. The Knanaya came to Kerala and maintained a separate identity and culture from the other St. Thomas Christians. Surprisingly dna tests done on the Knanaya have proven that they indeed are the descendants of Middle Easterners. Both the folk tradition of the Knanaya and St. Thomas Christians state that Thomas of Cana played a big role in the unification and upliftment of Christianity in Kerala.

Another mission led by two Syrian clergymen Mar Sapor and Mar Proth occurred in the 9th century and again helped to promote Christianity in Kerala. Mar Sapor and Mar Proth’s mission also led to the Tharisapally Copper Plate grant which was a grant of privileges and rights given to the St. Thomas Christians by the ruling Hindu king of Kerala.

Tharisappally Plates

Later the Portuguese arrived in India and attempted to modify the Church of St. Thomas by way of Latinizations. This led to mass revolts among the Thomas Christians and caused the ancient ethnic community to be divided into two groups, Syrian Catholics (Latinized East Syrians) and Syrian Orthodox (West Syrians). Till this day the two groups of Syrian Catholics and Syrian Orthodox exist but are split into numerous denominations. Nonetheless even tho the St. Thomas Christians are split into numerous denominations they are still a united ethnic group known in Kerala as Nasrani or Mar Thoma Christianikal.


#12

Pretty naive to think St Thomas went to South America 2000 years ago. I certainly do not believe it.


#13

Are you doubting Thomas or a doubting Thomas.

John 20:29… Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.


#14

I assume you are joking. St Thomas is not Christ. You are quoting from the Bible and have no clue what that verse means!!


#15

I did not say St. Thomas was the Christ, but the greater lesson is that he was an Apostle, sent by Christ. The lesson is that he did not believe the other Apostles and wished to see the miracle rather than believe the other witnesses. We should not limit the limitless God.

Romans 1
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; 21 for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,


#16

You are entitled to your opinion but I think its nonsense to suggest St Thomas went to South America 2000 years ago. If he did it was a wasted trip. Christianity in South America started after the Spanish conquest only around 500 years ago.


#17

It is possible. There is a sea faring trade route that leads from the Red Sea right up to Kerela.


#18

Well, there is some evidence that St. Brendan the Navigator actually made it to the eastern coast of the US about 400 years later. A Chi Rho was found inscribed in rock next to an ancient cherokee structure which is almost identical to contemporary Irish churches, including the iris to calculate the date of Easter. In addition to this, ancient written Cherokee is basically Olgham (the first written Irish language) tilted on it’s side. If a monk in a whaleskin boat could do it, then maybe it is possible. Personally, I agree that it is very unlikely. But… maybe?


#19

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