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Wednesday, 2 July 2014

A brief history of St.Thomas - The Apostle

As we prepare ourselves for the feast of St.Thomas let us recall who he is and why do we celebrate his feast on the 3rd July of every year. 

The Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle on July 3 every year. He is best known in religious accounts as “Doubting Thomas” because of his initial unwillingness to believe the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Catholic faithful are familiar with the Biblical story of the apostle’s later encounter with the Risen Christ, who asked him to place his finger at the mark of the nails on His pierced hands and side. St. Thomas then turned from his doubt and embraced the truth of the resurrection.
On September 27, 2006, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said that Apostle Thomas’ case is important for three reasons: “First, it comforts us in our insecurity; second, it shows us that every doubt can lead to an outcome brighter than any uncertainty; and third, the words that Jesus addressed to him remind us of the true meaning of mature faith and encourage us to persevere, despite the difficulty, along our journey of adhesion to him.”
St. Thomas was one of fishermen on the Lake of Galilee who Jesus Christ called to be His Apostles. He became a dedicated follower of Christ. After the Pentecost, when the apostles went their separate ways, he set off on missionary work and, according to tradition, he preached the Good News to the Parthians, Persians, and Medes, until he reached India, where he evangelized and built with his bare hands a house of God at the Malabar coast, which today boasts of a large native population who call themselves 

St. Thomas Christians or Nasranis. After his martyrdom in 72 AD, he was buried near the site of his death, and a grand church that still stands today was built to house his tomb.St. Thomas’ relics were enshrined in Mesopotamia in the 3rd century, and later moved to various places. In 1258, some of the relics were brought to Abruzzo in Ortona, Italy, where they were venerated in the Church of St. Thomas the Apostle. He is regarded as patron saint of India and patron saint of architects and builders as well.
When the feast of St. Thomas was included in the Roman calendar in the 9th century, it was assigned to December 21, the date of his martyrdom. The “Martyrology of St. Jerome” mentioned the apostle on July 3, the date to which the Roman celebration was transferred in 1969, so that it would no longer interfere with the days of Advent. July 3 was the day on which his relics were transferred from Mylapore on the coast of Chennai (Madras) in India, to the city of Edessa in Mesopotamia.

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