“St Thomas Mount – Chennai, India”

St Thomas Mount, Chennai, India!

Near the international airport in Chennai (formerly known as Madras) is the small hillock where the apostle St Thomas, the noble missionary and one of the principal disciples of Lord Jesus was assassinated way back in 72 AD. The origin of Christianity in India can be traced to St Thomas Didymas, the apostle. While most of Jesus´ disciples confined their activities to the Mediterranean region, St Thomas chose as his field of labor, the distant and little known East, with its strange people and even stranger God´s. He first preached the Gospel in Parthia and then proceeded to the Malabar Coast by sea in the year 52 AD. After establishing seven major Communities of Christians in Kerala, he moved to the Eastern Coast of India and founded a Community in Mylapore in Madras (now Chennai) He continued to preach in this region until 3 July 72 AD when he died a Martyre´s death at the St Thomas Mount.
This is a place everyone (spiritual or not) must visit if visiting Chennai. The view at and from the mount is wonderful.

The winding path to the top is long, steep and really magical. There is an old church at the top where one can see relics from the past. On the whole it is a moving experience for everyone irrespective of ones creed, caste or religion. When you realise the history behind the place, you can only admire the courage and love the apostle had for fellow beings.There are excellent hotels both here and the nearby Chennai City. There are guided tours of the mount one can arrange before hand from Chennai.This is what the well known free web encyclopedia, Wickiepidia has to say about St Thomas Mount:

St-Thomas-mount-Chennai-India Pope John Paul II Old church at the top of the mount

“Saint Thomas Mount, a small hillock, is located in Chennai, Tamilnadu state, India. St. Thomas Mount is associated with St. Thomas (Thomas Didymus {Dydimus}, also called the Doubting Thomas), one of the Christ’s apostles. St. Thomas was one of the first Christian to reach India and to preach Christianity. He is believed to have reached South India in 52 AD, and spent last years of his life in a cave, in a hill. The tradition states that the noble missionary was assassinated, by a shot of an arrow, by persons hostile to him. The place he died acquired the name St. Thomas Mount.

This small hill called St. Thomas Mount or Little Mount is located 6 miles away from the center of the present metropolis of Chennai. According to tradition, St. Thomas used to go to this hill to pray in the evenings. Brahmins, jealous of St. Thomas’s close relationship to the king of the region plotted against him and finally, in one of the caves in this hill, he was pierced by a lance. As he was trying to escape, he leaned over the rocks and left his fingerprints which are still visible inside the cave.

St Thomas Mount, Chennai, India! Depicting the sad killing of the Apostle on the mount

About the Mount itself, it further says:

“Located a litte of guindy and close to the flying range in chennai is the Saint Thomas mount..where the saint Thomas (Apostle) is believed to have been martyed. Built in 1523 by the Portuguese, a small relic-filled Church stands at the summit of the 300 foot high St. Thomas Mount. This is the site where Saint Thomas (apostle of Jesus Christ) was said to be killed around A.D.72.

One of the most interesting relics here, that excavations in 1547 unearthed, is a stone cross with old Sassanid Pahlavi inscriptions on it reputed to have been chiselled by the Apostle himself. This cross is known as the ‘Bleeding Cross’ because it has stains resembling blood stains which reappear even after being scrubbed off. It is also supposed to ‘bleed’ afresh periodically. It first ‘bled’ publicly during Mass in 1558 and the last record occasion when it ‘bled’ was in 1704. St. Thomas is supposed to have clutched this cross as he lay dying. When it was discovered, the cross was built into the wall being the altar of the church where it remains till today. Also above the altar is an oil painting of The Madonna. This is believed to be one of the seven painted by St.Luke the Evangelist and brought to India by St. Thomas, who never went anywhere without it. This picture of Madonna is considered as the oldest christian painting in India.

At the northern foot of the Mount is a gateway of four impressive arches surmounted by a cross bearing the inscribed date 1547.

A flight of 160 steps leads up to the summit of the Mount. There are fourteen stations of the cross erected on the way to the summit. During Easter season faithful climb the steps to the hill church, Our Lady of Expectation church, singing hymns and saying the “way of the cross” prayers. Petrus Uscan, an Armenian merchant paved the way with granite steps in order to make the climbing easy. Meenambakkam airport of Chennai can be seen from the top and many pilgrims wait to see the beautiful scene of landing and taking off the air crafts”

Hope this information is of use to you all. I wish you a happy holiday where ever you are in the world. Carry on exploring and blogging.

Take care !
Kris Kandath

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