Commemorating the Lancing of St. Thomas, the Apostle – Dec 18
St. Thomas is the Patron Saint of India, set foot in India in AD 52. The Syrian Christians of Malabar in India, claim St. Thomas as their founder. St. Thomas founded the Malankara Orthodox Church of India in AD 52.
Some records say that the Apostle made a brief visit to China and returned to Madras. The Apostle’s evangelism perhaps was confined only to the Madras city region. People flocked to hear him. He performed several miracles through the power of Lord Jesus Christ such as, healing the sick, the lame, the blind and other varieties of handicapped persons.
One summer when multitude of people had come to listen to his sermon, the Apostle noticed that they were thirsty and were looking around for some water to quench themselves. Little Mount is an area known for its water scarcity and was so in the first century as well. Taking pity on the audience, the Saint struck at a particular point on the hillock with his staff. And water gushed out at once. This was reminiscent of what prophet Moses did to provide water for the Israelites.
The existence of a small spring almost at the top of a hillock and water being available round the year would sound truly remarkable. It is said that this is known as the fountain of St. Thomas, which exists even today. Some miraculous power is attributed to this water. The spread of Christianity in a Hindu dominated society of Madras was indeed a matter of jealousy for many of St. Thomas’s persecutors. One day a Hindu Brahmin chased the Saint from his Little Mount cave-home along the road and pierced him to death with his lance when the Saint ran the distance of 3 KM to the hill. And thus, came the name “St. Thomas Mount”, the spot where St. Thomas was murdered.
His body was taken to Mylapore and buried in the chapel built by him. Thomas Mount remained a simple hill feature for several centuries. One Diego Fernandez, a Portuguese, built a small chapel on it in the year 1523 A.D and one Father Gasper Goelho converted the chapel into a big church in 1548 A.D.
This ancient Church on top of the 300 feet high Mount (Parangi Malai), had been a signpost for mariners for some 400 years. In the 16th and 17th centuries, when the Portuguese and Armenian ships sighted the church, the sailors used to offer prayer of thanksgiving for a safe voyage ahead and then fire a gunshot as salute. St. Thomas is well known today all around the world, especially in India, because he was the one who brought the religion of Christianity into India. The Malankara Orthodox church celebrates his feast on three days, 18 December (the Day he was lanced), and 21 December, when he passed away and 3 July (translation of his relics to Edessa). We also commemorate him on the first Sunday after Resurrection.
Traditionally, the faithful spiritual observe flock a three days fast from 18th and seek his great intercession of St Thomas, the Apostle of India.