St Thomas was one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus. He traveled to India in AD 52 to spread the good news about Christianity and Jesus. He died as a martyr in Chennai and was buried there.
The Santhome Cathedral Basilica has international reputation of being erected over the tomb of one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus.
There are only 3 such Basilicas in the world erected over the tomb of an Apostle of Jesus. One is St Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the other is St James de Compostela in Spain.
The Steeple, towers over the Cathedral. White washed with red tiles, the structure shines bright in the early morning sun.
On the inside, the wooded ceiling has arches like a boat. Stained glass windows reflect the sunlight like colorful gems. The altar has a huge cross at the center. New and old statues watch the prayerful devotees with love.
Just before the altar is a circular opening. Looking down through this opening you can see the tomb of St. Thomas.
A short walk outside will take you to the underground chapel that houses the tomb of the Saint.
A replica of the body of St Thomas is enclosed inside a glass case. His remains would be buried here. A relic is kept near the tomb. The famous words used by St Thomas to proclaim his faith in Jesus – “My Lord and My God” are etched on a plaque near the tomb.
The chapel is cool and silent. Devotees kneel and pray with folded hands. It is indeed a privilege and blessing to be in the presence of an apostle of Jesus.
Spend some time here reflecting on the life of this Saint and the difficulties that he may have encountered as a preacher.
A small museum housing artifacts is above the tomb. The museum has interesting relics of the earlier church. Stone artifacts and church essentials like the chalice are displayed. The museum also holds the bones of the Saint and the lance head, which killed him.
Christianity in India is a minority religion. However its presence since AD 52 makes it one of the oldest faiths to be prevailing in this country. The fact that St Thomas chose to preach in this country says a lot about the plans that Jesus and his Apostles had about spreading the Good News in India.
Spend a couple of hours at the Santhome Basilica when in Chennai, and be marveled at the history of this holy place.
For more posts about short weekend breaks read – Microbreaks