“To teach superstition as truth is a most terrible thing.” – Hypatia of Alexandria
“The oriental ubiquity of St Thomas’s apostolate is explained by the fact that the geographical term ‘India’ included the lands washed by the Indian Ocean as far as the China Sea in the east and the Arabian peninsula, Ethiopia, and the African coast in the west.” – Prof. Leonardo Olschki
“The Nestorians of India venerated St Thomas as the patron of Asiatic Christianity—mark, not of Indian Christianity.” – Prof. Leonardo Olschki
“Christians must acknowledge the historical fact that from Bethlehem to Madras, most of their sacred sites are booty won in campaigns of fraud and destruction.” – Dr. Koenraad Elst
Arulmigu Kapaleeswara Shiva & Devi Karpagambal of Mylapore, Madras.
Old Kapali Temple: Drawing of the original Kapaleeswara Temple destroyed by the Portuguese and replaced by San Thome Cathedral.
Kapaleeswara Temple Tower in 1906: This is the second temple built in the 16th century by Mayil Nattu Muthiyappa Mudaliar after the Portuguese destroyed the original temple on the Mylapore sea shore.
Kapaleeswara Temple Tank , Mylapore, Madras.
Kapaleeswara Temple: This memorial plaque was placed in the Kapali Temple by Arunai Vadivel Mudaliar in 1992 with the intention of informing the public about the destruction of the original temple by the Portuguese. However the text of the plaque contains wrong information regarding the alleged visit of St. Thomas and should be corrected or removed.
Kapaleeswara Temple: This is the complete memorial plaque placed in the temple by Arunai Vadivel Mudaliar and others. Its reference to the alleged visit of St. Thomas to Mylapore is mistaken and the plaque should be corrected or removed.
The Acts of Thomas records that Judas Thomas and Abbanes landed at Andropolis after a short sea journey, a royal city somewhere to the east of Jerusalem. Andropolis has been identified as Sandaruck, one of the ancient Alexandrias, in Balochistan. The geographical term “India” has been used twice in the text of the Acts of Thomas, and it is used as a synonym for Asia.
This map indicates the traditional routes the Apostles took to their destinations. Note that Thomas’s route was to Parthia and Gandhara (now in Pakistan) not to South India.
Christian Gnostic poet of Edessa Bardaisan, Bardesanes in Latin, (154–222 CE) is the alleged author of the Acts of Thomas on which the St. Thomas in India fable is predicated. He had met and discussed Indian religion with Brahmins and Buddhist monks who had passed through Edessa en route to Rome and was familiar with Buddhist and Hindu religion. There is no historical evidence that he actually travelled to India.
Paintings of St. Thomas by Georges de la Tour (upper image undated, above ptd 1625-1630).
Apostle St. Thomas as imagined by the Syrian Christians in Kerala. Neither the Cross nor Bible existed in the 1st century CE. They would be brought by Iranian Christian refugees later.
Pantaenus (died AD 216) was a Stoic philosopher in Alexandria who converted to Christianity and tried to reconcile Greek philosophy with Christian theology. He is believed to have visited India sometime between 180 and 190 where he found the Gospel of Mathew in Hebrew left behind by St. Bartholomew who had reached India before him. This story is legend built on more legend. Historians today assert that he didn’t travel further east than Arabia Felix (Southern Arabia, Oman and Yemen). And even if he did reach the Kerala coast ca. 200, it does not prove that St. Thomas (or St. Bartholomew) got there before him; it only proves that there was trade and traffic between Muziris (Kodungallur) on the Periyar River and Alexandria.
Knai Thomman or Thomas of Cana, ca. 345 CE, was the first Christian leader to have established a church in India according to the historical record. He was also known as Thomas the Merchant and Thomas of Jerusalem and it is probable that Syrian Christians have identified this man with the 1st century apostle Judas Thomas.
Martyrdom of St. Thomas by Peter Paul Rubens (ptd 1636-1638)
Knai Thoma Bhavan in Kerala: Its location is not revealed in the Wikipedia article.
Bishop Joseph of Edessa was the companion of Thomas of Cana. There is no historical reference to him after he arrived in Malabar, but he can be said to be the real founder of the Christian Church in India.
Tabula Peutingeriana: This 4th century Roman map portion shows the ancient port of Muziris at the mouth of the Periyar River in Kerala. The port existed for 2500 years and allowed India to trade with West Asia and Europe up the the 13th century when it suddenly disappeared due to a natural disaster like earthquake or cyclone.
Cosmas Indicopleustes: This Nestorian Christian merchant and traveller from Alexandria visited the Malabar Coast in 522 CE. He is the first person to leave an authentic record stating that there were Syrian Christians living in Malabar and Ceylon. Cosmas is the author of the book called Christian Topography.
Kodungallur Bhagawati Temple: According to triumphalist Syrian Christian legend, St. Thomas defeated this Kali when he landed at Muziris in 52 CE. However She is going strong even today and it is the Apostle’s existence and sojourn in India that has come into question!
St. Thomas Church, Azhikode, Kodungallur: The church stands on the site of the church which according to the Malabar legend St. Thomas built on his arrival at Muziris. It is more probable that the first church in Malabar was built by Thomas of Cana and Bishop Joseph of Edessa, ca. 345, on land given to them by Raja Cheraman Perumal.
St. Thomas Church, Kodungallur: The reliquary holds a bit of the right arm of Apostle Thomas. It was a gift to the Christians of Kerala from the San Tomasso Cathedral in Ortona, Italy, and was brought to India by Cardinal Tisserant in 1953. In the same year St. Thomas was declared the Apostle of India. Prior to 1953 he was known in the Church and throughout West Asia as the Apostle of the East. Francis Xavier was the Apostle of India.
Finger bone of St. Thomas in a Roman church.
Skull of St. Thomas the Apostle kept in the Monastery of St. John the Theologian, Patmos, Greece. If this is really the skull of St. Thomas, then he must of had two heads as his whole certified skeleton is in the San Tomasso Cathedral Basilica, Ortona, Italy.
Apostle Thomas makes water stand in the air: This is the miracle that allegedly caused some Namboodiri Brahmins to convert to Christianity. The story is used by Syrian Christians to establish their caste identity. It ignores the fact that there was no Christianity in the 1st century — Judas Thomas was a Jew — and some historians maintain there were no Namboodiri Brahmins in Malabar before the 3rd, 4th or even 6th century CE.
Marco Polo is the first author to place the tomb of St. Thomas in the Coromandel region in an unnamed village that the Portuguese later identified with Mylapore.
He wrote, “It is in this province, which is styled the Greater India, at the gulf between Ceylon and the mainland, that the body of Messer St. Thomas lies, at a certain town having no great population.”
Marco Polo did not visit the Tamil coast at any time. He collected his stories from Syrian Christian merchants who visited Constantanople to trade, which he recorded in his famous book Il Milione. There is some strong doubt about Marco’s extended travels to China among scholars and even during his lifetime he was called a liar by Dante Alighieri.
Marco Polo’s Route: If Marco Polo did go to China, this is his return route by sea to Hormuz. He passed through the Gulf of Mannar and did not touch the Coromandel Coast. His story that the tomb of Thomas lay in an unnamed village in the Coromandel region is pure fiction.
Marco Polo is the first writer to put the tomb of St. Thomas on the sea shore in South India. Prior to his reference in Il Milione, all legends followed the Acts of Thomas for the location of the tomb on a mountain containing the sepulchres of kings in Parthia.
San Tomasso Cathedral Basilica in Ortona contains the actual tomb of Thomas the Apostle.
San Tomasso Basilica: The actual tomb of St. Thomas in Ortona, Italy. The complete skeleton of the apostle has rested in this cathedral since 1258. Therefore it is not possible for the Portuguese to have found his bones in Mylapore in the 1523.
San Tomasso Basilica: The complete skeleton of Apostle Thomas has lain in this cathedral since 1258. The Portuguese could not have found his bones in Mylapore in the 1523.
San Thome Cathedral, Mylapore, Madras, was built in 1893 by the Portuguese. The first St. Thomas church to appear on the Mylapore beach was built in 1523 by Augustinian friars against the ancient Kapaleeswara Temple wall. The Christian tactic of encroaching on Hindu buildings and holy sites and then taking them over continues in Tamil Nadu till today.
San Thome Cathedral: This empty tomb is the second tomb the Portuguese opened in 1523. The popular belief among the fisher folk of the area is that the Archbishop uses it as a vault to store the vast wealth the church accumulated during the Portuguese period when they were looting the Hindu temples of Mylapore.
Diagram of the fake St. Thomas tomb in San Thome Cathedral created in 1523 by the Portuguese and seeded with bones, blood-stained earth, and a spear head brought from Goa.
San Thome Cathedral: This tableau in the tomb crypt has been added by San Thome authorities to stir up communal feelings among the Catholic pilgrims who visit the empty tomb. According to the Acts of Thomas, the only authority on the Apostle’s travels, Thomas was executed by a Zoroastrian king in Parthia for crimes against women. His executioners were four Persian soldiers who used spears to stab him, at his own request.
Behind San Thome Cathedral: This is said to be part of the log of wood miraculously lifted by St. Thomas in the Mylapore legend. The real miracle is that it still stands and that nobody has cut it down and carted it away, as it is an alleged relic of the Apostle.
San Thome Cathedral: The spear head the Portuguese planted in the fake tomb they opened in Mylapore in 1523. According to historian Veda Prakash it was made in Goa.
San Thome Cathedral: A piece of the Apostle’s arm bone kept in a crucifix reliquary. It was a gift to San Thome Cathedral from San Tomasso Cathedral Basilica, Ortona, Italy, and was brought to India in 1953 by Cardinal Tisserant.
San Thome Bishop’s Museum: Carved temple columns and other Hindu artefacts. These columns are proof that a Hindu temple once stood on the site the church now occupies.
San Thome Bishop’s Museum: Are these the bones of the Chola prince whose samadhi the Portuguese opened up in the Kapaleeswara Temple courtyard in 1523? And why are they still in the possession of the Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese?
Pope John Paul II praying at the empty tomb of St. Thomas in San Thome Cathedral in 1986. Though the Pope visited India twice, he had nothing to say about Thomas’s alleged visit in 52 CE. In his homily he treated the tomb as a memorial, not as an actual grave site.
Archbishop Dr. R. Arulappa: He fabricated fake palm leaf documents in an attempt to create a historical record for St. Thomas in India.
Pope John Paul II & Archbishop Arulappa at San Thome Cathedral in 1986. The pope had nothing to say about St. Thomas and his homily at the empty tomb was in the nature of a memorial only.
Madras-Mylapore Archbishop A.M. Chinnappa: In total defiance of Pope Benedict, Chinnappa and his fellow bishops planned a movie on St. Thomas and his fictional Indian sojourn.
Blessed Sacrament Chapel: This Portuguese church at Little Mount, Saidapet, replaces the Murugan temple and cave that the Portuguese took over in the 16th century.
Luz Church: Built in 1516, it may be the first church the Portuguese built in Mylapore displacing a Vishnu temple according to local tradition.
Big Mount or St. Thomas Mount. Originally the seat of Rishi Brungi (Bhrigu), it was occupied by the Portuguese after 1523 and the Hindu temple on it demolished to make way for the Church of Our Lady of Expectation.
Our Lady of Expectation Church: The Portuguese began to settle around Big Mount in 1523 and the first Christian chapel was built on the hill in 1545. The building of the church was started in 1547 presumably after the Shiva temple it sits on was removed.
St. Thomas Mount Church: This 8th century Persian cross is inscribed with Phalavi script and is signed by the carver as Afras the Syrian. The inscription reads, “My lord Christ, have mercy upon Afras, son of Chaharbukht the Syrian, who cut this”.
Early Christians were practcing Jews who held the cross in abhorrence as it was both a Pagan religious symbol and an instrument of torture used by the Romans. Up to the 3rd century Christians used a fish symbol with or without the Greek word “ichthus” (fish) inscribed in it to identify themselves and each other.
This “Orpheus-Bacchus” crucifix is dated 3rd century BCE / CE and depicts Orpheus crucified. It is of dubious origin and may be a fake. Christians adopted the cross / crucifix as a symbol after the 3rd century CE. Had Apostle Thomas come to India, he would not have brought a cross with him. He was a Jew and crosses—especially Roman crosses—were abhorrent to him. Crosses were introduced into Indian Christianity by Syrian and Iranian Christian immigrants after the 7th or 8th century CE.
St. Thomas Mount Church: Virgin & Child Portuguese icon attributed to the Apostle Luke. There are a number of these fake icons around the world, the most famous one being in Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica in Rome.
The commemorative plaque inside the St. Thomas Mount Our Lady of Expectation Church.
1964 St. Thomas India Postage Stamp: The image is of a silver bust of Thomas in the San Tommaso Basilica, Ortona, Italy.
1973 India Postage Stamp: The image is of the 8th century stone cross carved by Afras the Syrian. It is attributed to St. Thomas and kept in the Portuguese church on St. Thomas Mount.
Historians of the 1st to 3rd centuries: These are the historians who were contemporary or near contemporary with Jesus but who had absolutely nothing to say about him.
Ishwar Sharan’s correspondence with the Vatican and Encyclopaedia Britannica and their responses. For the articles go to Vatican here and Encyclopaedia Britannica here.