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Saint Thomas the Apostle

"My Lord and my God".

Saint Thomas (תוֹמָאס הקדוש Hebrew, Θωμᾶς Greek, ⲑⲱⲙⲁⲥ Coptic, ܬܐܘܡܐ ܫܠܝܚܐ‎ Syriac, മാര്‍ തോമാ ശ്ലീഹ Malayalam) was one of the Twelve Apostles chosen by Christ.

The name Thomas is derived from the Aramaic תְּאוֹמָא and equivalent from Hebrew תְּאוֹם (t'om) meaning twin. In the Greek translation, the equivalent term for twin is used Δίδυμος or Didymos. Early Syrian traditions also recorded that his full name was Judas Thomas. In the Gospel of John, Saint Thomas speaks his first recorded words of the Holy Gospels when Lazarus dies and the Apostles are arguing about going back to Judea. In John 11:16 he says to them:

"Let us also go, that we may die with him."

In John 14:5, Christ explains that he would soon be leaving them to prepare their heavenly home. Saint Thomas replies saying

"Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?"

And in John 20-29, when Christ appears to the disciples after rising from the dead, Saint Thomas says:

"Except I shall see on his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe."

But when Christ appears to Saint Thomas, he invites him to touch his wounds which results in Saint Thomas immediately saying the following (with Christ's reply)

"My Lord and my God".

"Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed."

There are several traditions and legends associated with Saint Thomas after the writings of the Holy Gospels. In The Passing of Mary, a writing that would be declared heretical by Pope Gelasius I in 494 AD describes Saint Thomas as being the only witness to the Assumption of Mary into heaven. As her body was assumed into Heaven, she dropped her girdle which would later invert the story of Saint Thomas's doubts about the risen Christ - when the apostles didn't believe his witness, he showed them her girdle.

There are several accounts of Saint Thomas's journey to India. Officially, in 2006 while on an official visit to India, Pope Benedict XVI stated that Saint Thomas landed somewhere in Western India (Placing it somewhere in modern day Pakistan) before travelling southwards and spreading the Gospel to the south of India. This conflicts, however, with what the Saint Thomas Christians of India believe as they hold to the tradition that Saint Thomas landed in Muziris (Cranganore) on the Kerala coast in AD 52. A hymn of Saint Ephrem describes it as:

It was to a land of dark people he was sent, to clothe them by Baptism in white robes. His grateful dawn dispelled India's painful darkness. It was his mission to espouse India to the One-Begotten. The merchant is blessed for having so great a treasure. Edessa thus became the blessed city by possessing the greatest pearl India could yield. Thomas works miracles in India, and at Edessa Thomas is destined to baptize peoples perverse and steeped in darkness, and that in the land of India.

— Hymns of Saint Ephrem, edited by Lamy (Ephr. Hymni et Sermones, IV).

According to records kept by Eusebius, Saint Thomas and Saint Bartholomew were assigned to India and Parthia. The Saint Thomas Christians believe than during his journey in India he founded seven churches - Kodungallur, Palayoor, Kottakkavu, Kokkamangalam, Niranam, Nilackal, Kollam and Thiruvithamcode. According to their tradition, correlated with writings from Saint Ephrem the Syrian, Saint Thomas the Apostle was martyred at Saint Thomas Mount in Chennai on December 21st, AD 72.

The feast for Saint Thomas was first introduced in the Roman Calendar in the 9th century with the date being set for December 21st. Because the Martyrology of Saint Jerome mentions him on July 3rd and as moving the date would no longer interfere with Advent, the feast day was moved during the 1969 revision to July 3rd. The Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine churches celebrate his feast day on October 6th. They also celebrate the following Sunday after Easter as the Sunday of Saint Thomas, in commemoration of Saint Thomas's question to Christ which led him to proclaim the two natures of Jesus, both human and divine.

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