How One of Christ’s Apostles Ended up Far Away in India

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Following Christ’s Resurrection, He met with the eleven disciples on a mountain in Galilee and instructed them to baptize all nations and spread the Faith. Since the Great Commission given by Christ to go and convert the whole world, missionaries have traveled to every corner of the Earth to spread the Gospel.

One such corner of the Earth is in India, to which Saint Thomas the Apostle traveled – 3,000 miles from home – not even 20 years after the Resurrection.

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

According to tradition, Saint Thomas, known as the Apostle of India, is believed to have sailed to the ancient port of Muziris on the Kerala coast of India arriving the year 52 A.D. Taking the Great Commission by Christ to heart, Saint Thomas thought the rich, diverse trading center of Kerala was a prime location to preach the Word and spread the Gospel as far and wide as possible.

“The Savior appeared to him through the night, and said to him: Fear not, Thomas; go away to India, and proclaim the word; for my grace shall be with thee.” – Acts of Thomas

According to the New Testament apocrypha, the Lord himself commanded Thomas to travel to India and spread the Faith. When he arrived, it is said the first thing he saw was Hindu Brahmins, offering ablutions to their pagan sun god by throwing water up into the air with it falling back into a tank. He made a deal with them, saying if his God accepted the water and not let it fall back, they would have to embrace Christianity. He completed the Sign of the Cross and threw the water into the air where it remained still without falling. In this miracle he began his evangelism of India, baptizing the Brahmins in the same tank.

During his time in India, Saint Thomas became known for giving to the poor and needy. A pious legend says he collected money for some time from a rich king to build a mansion, but kept giving the money away. When the king found out, he was furious and had Saint Thomas imprisoned. The king’s brother died suddenly, and was given a vision of a golden mansion being built in Heaven by virtue of Thomas’ good deeds. When questioned by the king, Saint Thomas explained the palace he was building was not on Earth, but in Heaven. When the King accepted God’s Will, his brother came back to life, and they both converted.

Saint Thomas was martyred for his beliefs on a small hill, known as the Saint Thomas Mount, in the year 72 A.D. In total he spent twenty years in India where he spread the Faith, tended to the poor and needy, built many new churches, and formed parishes.

Saint Thomas’ mission did not die with him, and he left a lasting mark through his efforts to evangelize the people of India. Today, the community of Saint Thomas Christians in Kerala continue his legacy of helping the poor and needy. Through a charitable donation with MISSIO, you too can continue the mission of Saint Thomas and help provide aid to those who need it most.

Launched by Pope Francis himself, MISSIO is a new and innovative Catholic crowd-funding platform that allows you to directly provide aid and assistance to the poorest areas around the world.

With MISSIO you can directly support the works of Catholic missionaries in the poorest and most desperate areas of the world. Some of the giving opportunities on MISSIO include helping to rebuild a small parish church in coastal India, help protect Indian Catholics from persecution, support young seminarians in a new Indian diocese, build a home for disabled children of India’s lowest caste, protect young women living on the streets of India, or send general support for the Pope’s missions around the world.

Choose one of these missions of Pope Francis knowing that 100% of your donation will go directly to that cause. Share the mission on social media so others can support the projects also.

MISSIO is powered by The Pontifical Mission Societies, the Catholic Church’s official support organization for overseas missions since 1822, providing for a global network of people who are making a difference for communities in need around the globe.

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Comments

5 COMMENTS

  1. Good article, except for your implication that India is a “far corner of the earth” when starting from the Holy Land. St James the Apostle went to the far northwest of Spain, which is just as far away. Other Apostles and first-century missionaries went almost as far from Jerusalem.

    Many people labour under the false assumption that Christianity is a white European religion. On the contrary, it began in Asia, and for most of the first millennium at least, the majority of Christians on earth were Asians and Africans. Only for a few centuries, approx. 1300 to 1900, were the majority of Christians Europeans. And today “white” Europeans comprise only a small and shrinking minority of Christians.

    • One might add here that it is thanks to generations of missionaries in the past that Africans and the Americas are now more and more the standard bearers of Christianity. This is why Pope John Paul II said that the next thousand years will be dedicated to Asia.

  2. It is worth noting that the traditional liturgical language of Catholics in southern India was Syriac, a Middle Eastern language that was widely spoken as a commercial link with India. The twelve Apostles were sent in particular to the Jewish diaspora. In those days, there was a strong commercial link between southern India and the Roman Empire as well as the wider Middle East, and Jewish merchants were active in it. This explains the presence of St. Thomas in India. St. Bartholomew was also recorded as working in India just north of Bombay. Till the founding of Israel, there was a significant presence of Jews in these areas, but it has since diminished till almost nothing.

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