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St.Thomas Traditions

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St.Thomas Traditions
Mainly three traditions are attributed to St. Thomas' visit and apostolic mission in India.

1.Acts of Thomas  - an apocryphal book
2.Writings of early church fathers
3.Indian tradition- Malabar traditions of Kerala


Acts of Judas Thomas

The earliest record about the apostolate of St.Thomas is the apocryphal  'Acts of Kudas Thomas' written in syriac in the Edessan circle, Gnostic in origin, romantic in style attributed to third centuary A.D. Several scholars find the historical nucleus of the second century tradition about the apostolate of St.Thiomas.

According to Acts of Thomas, St.Thomas reaches the palace of King Gudnaphar ( Gundaphar ) along with a merchant called Habban ( Abbanese). As the king was looking for a architect for constructing a new palace, he entrusted the job to St.Thomas.
         St.Thomas distributed the money given to him for the construction among the poor and needy. As the palace was not ready on the appointed date the king became angry and ordered to put him in prison.
        Thereupon Gad, the brother of king dies and on brought back to life describes the beauty of the palace St.Thomas built in heaven. The king, his brother and his family together with many from the kingdom accepts the 'new way' preached by St.Thomas.

        Then St.Thomas passes to another kingdom of Mazdai. In spite of converting many he was killed by an arrow ( or spear) atop a hill. Later king learns about the miraculous powers pf St.Thomas and opens his tomb to take some earth to cure his son who has fallen ill.

        Many attempts have been made to identify the kings mentioned in the Acts and locate their respective kingdom. Many scholars are of the opinion that the Gudnaphar may be the north Indian king Gondaphoras ( of Kushan dynasty known in China as Yuchi dynasty). Certain excavations and findings of some coins strengthened this view. King Mazdai may be some south Indian king Vijayan or so located in and aroung modern Chennai.

Early Church writings

Early Christian writings can be broadly classified into two : Writings before Nicaean concil and after.
Before Nicaea we have testimonies of origen ( referred to by Eusebius) , Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius who link the apostolate of St.Thomas to Parthia.
         After the council we have Gregory of Nazianzus, Paulinus of Nola, Rufinus and few others who regrd India as the field of St.Thomas activity.
         Jerome, John Chrysostum, Isidor of Seville combine the two traditions.
         St.Ephrem and the Teachings of the Apiostles ( Didascalia Apostolorum) are more emphatic about the India and Calamena ( ancient Mylapore) with the activities of St.Thomas.

Indian Taditions - Malabar Tradition

According to this tradition St.Thomas came by sea, landed at Kodungallooor( Crangannore or muziris) in Kerala, established sever churches ( or group of christians) at Palayoor, Kodungalloor, Niranam, Nilakkal, kottakkavu, Kokkamangalam and Kollam before his death in 72 A.D.  and burial at Mylapore, chennai.
Ramban Pattu, Veeradiyan Paattu, Margam kali Paattu etc.. give credence to this tradition.
Certain archeoliogical findings also points to this direction.  Malayattoor is a famous pilgrims centre among the Malabar christians because of the tradition that Blessed Virgin mary appeared to the saint on the summit of this mount.

Tomb of St.Thomas at Mylapore, chennai is regarded and the most important pilgrim centre of St.Thomas christians throught the world. Early christians used to make a pilgrimage to Mylapore at least once in their life. The earth taken from the tomb is considered to have miraculous healing powers.
Marco Polo , a venetian traveller visited the tomb in thirteenth century and written about the traditional belief of the local people about the miraculous healing powers of the sand taken from the tomb.



[research inputs by Dsciples of St.Thomas ]





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Last Updated on Thursday, 21 January 2010 09:54  

Newsflash

'Doubting Thomas' usage is after St.Thomas who refused to believe the resurrection of Jesus Christ until he himself see and touch the wound marks of risen Lord. ( Read Holy Bible John 20:21-28 ).

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