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St. Thomas Day is a momentous occasion celebrated by Christians around the world. It commemorates the life and contributions of Saint Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. This article takes a deep dive into the history, significance, date, and quotes associated with St. Thomas Day, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of this auspicious day.
The Origins of St. Thomas Day
St. Thomas, also known as Doubting Thomas, was one of the disciples of Jesus Christ. According to Christian tradition, Thomas initially doubted the resurrection of Jesus until he witnessed it firsthand. He is often remembered for his famous statement, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
After the resurrection, Thomas travelled to different parts of the world, spreading the teachings of Jesus. It is believed that he travelled as far as India, where he established a Christian community. St. Thomas Day pays tribute to his missionary work and commitment to spreading the message of Christianity.
St. Thomas History Timeline
To understand the significance of St. Thomas Day, let’s take a journey through the key events in the life of Saint Thomas.
1. 1st Century
St. Thomas Is Born
Saint Thomas was born in Pansada, Galilee, in the Province of Judea, which was a part of the Roman Empire. Little is known about his early life, but he would go on to become one of the closest disciples of Jesus Christ.
2. 52 A.D.
He Lands In India
In 52 A.D., Saint Thomas embarked on a journey to India, carrying the message of Christianity. He traveled to various regions of India, spreading the teachings of Jesus and establishing Christian communities.
3. 72 A.D.
St. Thomas Dies
Tragedy struck on July 3, 72 A.D., when Saint Thomas was martyred in Chennai (formerly known as Madras). He was killed by a spear and buried in Mylapore, where a magnificent church, the San Thome Basilica, stands today as a testament to his memory.
The Feast of St. Thomas
The Feast of St. Thomas is an important event in the Christian calendar. While it was initially celebrated on December 21, it was later discovered that the correct date of his death was July 3, as recognized by the Syrian churches of Kerala. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, his martyrdom is also commemorated on October 6, following the Second Sunday of Easter.
Significance of St. Thomas Day
St. Thomas Day holds great significance for Christians worldwide. It serves as a reminder of Thomas’s unwavering faith and his transformation from a doubter to a staunch believer. The day symbolizes the importance of faith and encourages believers to trust in the teachings of Jesus, even in the face of doubt and uncertainty.
Moreover, St. Thomas Day is an opportunity for Christians to reflect on the spread of Christianity and its impact on different cultures and societies. It highlights the universal nature of the Christian faith and the diverse communities it has touched throughout history.
St. Thomas Day holds great significance for Christians, particularly in India, as Saint Thomas is revered as the patron saint of the country and the founder of the Indian church. According to tradition, he landed on the shores of Kerala, specifically at Kodungallur in the Thrissur District. The Syrian Christians of the Malabar Coast believe that Saint Thomas converted their ancestors to Christianity, establishing a rich legacy that endures to this day.
During his time in India, Saint Thomas faced challenges and encounters that shaped his faith and devotion. He is famously known as “Doubting Thomas” because he initially hesitated to accept Jesus’s resurrection until he saw the wounds of crucifixion on Jesus’s body. This encounter transformed his doubts into unwavering belief.
The Fortaleza da São Tomé, or Fortress of Saint Thomas, is a historical structure built in 1523 by the Portuguese near the spot where Saint Thomas is believed to have landed in India. The fort, also known as Kottappuram Fort, stands as a testament to his arrival and evangelical mission. Although the Dutch captured and destroyed the fort in 1663, the remnants can still be observed today at the mouth of the Periyar River, where it meets the Arabian Sea.
Date of St. Thomas Day
St. Thomas Day is celebrated on December 21st each year. The date holds historical and cultural significance, marking the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. In many cultures, the winter solstice represents the transition from darkness to light, symbolizing hope and renewal. St. Thomas Day aligns with this symbolism, emphasizing the importance of faith and the arrival of spiritual enlightenment.
Celebrations and Traditions in St Thomas Day
On St. Thomas Day, Christians gather in churches and participate in special services dedicated to the memory of St. Thomas. The services often include readings from the Bible, hymns, and prayers that reflect on Thomas’s life and teachings.
In certain regions, there are additional customs associated with St. Thomas Day. For instance, in India, where St. Thomas is believed to have spent a significant part of his life, Christians visit churches dedicated to him and engage in processions and feasts. In some areas, the day is marked with the lighting of candles or the distribution of alms to the less fortunate.
Quotes about St. Thomas
- “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” – John 20:29
- “My Lord and my God!” – Thomas (John 20:28)
- “Doubt is but another element of faith.” – St. Augustine
- “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” – St. Thomas Aquinas
- “The story of Thomas is our story. We too are invited to believe without seeing.” – Pope Francis
St. Thomas Day celebrates the life and contributions of Saint Thomas, one of Jesus’s apostles. It reminds Christians of the importance of faith, even in times of doubt. By reflecting on Thomas’s journey from scepticism to belief, believers are encouraged to trust in the teachings of Jesus and embrace the universal message of Christianity.
On December 21st, Christians worldwide come together to honour St. Thomas and engage in various celebrations and traditions. Through prayers, hymns, and acts of kindness, they commemorate the enduring legacy of this remarkable disciple and draw inspiration from his unwavering faith.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is St. Thomas Day a public holiday?
St. Thomas Day is not widely recognized as a public holiday. However, it holds significant religious importance for Christians, who observe it with reverence and gratitude.
Did St. Thomas really doubt the resurrection?
According to Christian tradition, Thomas initially doubted the resurrection of Jesus. However, upon seeing Jesus and his wounds, he proclaimed his faith and became an ardent believer.
Are there any special customs associated with St. Thomas Day?
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Different regions have their unique customs to celebrate St. Thomas Day. For example, in India, Christians visit churches dedicated to St. Thomas and participate in processions and feasts.
Can people of different faiths celebrate St. Thomas Day?
St. Thomas Day primarily holds significance for Christians, but people of different faiths can appreciate the historical and cultural aspects associated with it.
What is the spiritual message of St. Thomas Day?
St. Thomas Day encourages believers to have faith, even in the face of doubt. It emphasizes the transformative power of belief and the importance of trust in one’s spiritual journey.