Chapter Nineteen

Madras Musings is edited by the self-styled historian and accomplished St. Thomas apologist S. Muthiah. He is―or was―a director at TT Maps and Publications Ltd., the TTK company that produces and sells the St. Thomas fable to unwitting tourists, and more recently has got associated with Chennai’s leftist newspaper The Hindu. He admits that there is no historical evidence for the visit of St. Thomas to India, but will follow this statement up with another about India’s “1,800 year-old, and possibly older, Christian tradition.”

Muthiah’s allusion is to Pantaenus the Alexandrian, who is said to have visited “the land of the Indians” before 190 CE. The first reference is made by Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History, which others follow, but Dr. A. Mingana, an authority on the spread of Christianity in India, quoted by C.B. Firth in An Introduction to Indian Church History, asserts, “the India they refer to is without doubt Arabia Felix. The fact has been recognised by all historians since Assemani and Tillemont, and has been considered as established even by such a conservative writer as Medleycott. It will be a matter of surprise if any responsible author will mention in the future Pantaenus in connection with India proper.”

But ancient history―whether tucked away in the Cairo Museum or Vatican Library―is not Muthiah’s first line of defence. He prefers to use emotional tactics when dealing with unbelievers, and declares through his amanuensis in a Madras Musings editorial that, “Christian tradition, as much an article of faith, has Thomas who Doubted, the Apostle of India, living and preaching in this part of the Coromandel from about 65 AD till his death in 72 AD.”[65]

This “Apostle of India” tradition is not an “article of faith” for Christians of course.[66] Protestants reject it outright as a Catholic superstition, and Catholics themselves are not obliged to accept it. This point is clarified by Papal Chevalier F.A. D’Cruz, in St. Thomas the Apostle in India, when he discusses the belief in the “St. Thomas” relics and tomb in San Thome Cathedral. He writes, “Catholics who venerate the tomb are not compelled to believe in its genuineness; and they know well that it is a question of evidence and that they may be mistaken as to the fact. They regard it, in any case, in the light of a memorial, whereby the saint is remembered and honoured. If miracles are said to have occurred in connection with the reputed tomb or relics, Catholics understand again here also it is a question of evidence and that, if genuine, they are the result of faith excited by the memorial of the saint whose intercession had been implored by clients for Divine interposition on their behalf.”

65. See the article “Madras Musings and Madras Muthiah” for the editorial and our reply to it in this book.

66. According to Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, an “article of faith” is by definition a “condition or stipulation of a religious creed”.