Saint Thomas Christians

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Archdeacon Thomas, or Mar Thoma I, the leader of the Coonan Cross Oath and head of Malankara Nasranis

The Saint Thomas Christians, also called Syrian Christians of India, Nasrani or Malankara Nasrani or Nasrani Mappila, are an ethnoreligious community of Malayali Syriac Christians from Kerala, India.

Quotes[edit]

  • There is endless discussion about St. Thomas’s subsequent life. In particular, did he take the gospel to India, where for many centuries the Christians of Kerala have called themselves ‘St. Thomas Christians’? That he did so, and was martyred there, is the theme of a long document of the third or fourth century, called the Acts of Thomas. This is one of the most readable and intrinsically interesting of early Christian apocryphal writings; but it is no more than a popular romance, written in the interest of false Gnostic teachings (e.g. the virtual necessity of celibacy for Christians). It is not impossible that St. Thomas should have reached southern India, but the historical reality of his mission there cannot be considered proved. It is also said that he evangelized Parthia, and in the fourth century his relics were claimed to be at Edessa in Mesopotamia.
    • Donald Attwater, in The Penguin Dictionary of Saints, with reference to L.W. Brown in The Indian Christians of St. Thomas,quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • “The attribution of the origin of South Indian Christianity to the apostle Thomas seems very attractive to those who hold certain theological opinion. But the real question is, on what evidence does it rest? Without real or sufficient evidence so improbable a circumstance is to be at once rejected. Pious fictions have no place in historical research.”
    • A.D. Burnell, in an article in the Indian Antiquary of May 1875 quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • There is absolutely not the shadow of a proof that an Apostle of our Lord – be his name Thomas or something else – ever visited South India or Ceylon and founded Christian communities there.
    • Prof. Jarl Charpentier, in St. Thomas the Apostle and India, quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • “The origins of the so-called Malabar Christians is uncertain, though they seem to have been in existence before the 6th century AD and probably derive from the missionary activity of the East Syrian (Nestorian) Church – which held that, in effect, the two natures of Christ were two persons, somehow joined in a moral union – centred at Ctesiphon. Despite their geographical isolation, they retained the Chaldean liturgy and Syriac language and maintained fraternal ties with the Babylonian (Baghdad) patriarchate.”
    • The Encyclopaedia Britannica,quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • Among those who like to say that "all are equally guilty", we also find the Christian missionaries. They too have a history of persecutions and temple destructions to cover up, not only in Europe and America, but in India as well. The Portuguese organized a branch of the Inquisition in Goa, and they practised conversion by force on a large scale. The French and British missionaries were less brutal, often resorting to subversion tactics and inducement by means of material advantages for converts, but they too have a record of temple destructions in India. Hundreds of churches contain rubble of the Hindu temples which they replaced. We may look a bit more closely into one case which sums it all up: the Saint Thomas church on Mylapore beach in Madras. According to Christian leaders in India, the apostle Thomas came to India in 52 AD, founded the Syrian Christian church, and was killed by the fanatical Brahmins in 72 AD. Near the site of his martyrdom, the Saint Thomas church was built. In fact this apostle never came to India, and the Christian community in South India was founded by a merchant Thomas Cananeus in 345 AD ( a name which readily explains the Thomas legend ). He led 400 refugees who fled persecution in Persia and were given asylum by the Hindu authorities. In Catholic universities in Europe, the myth of the apostle Thomas going to India is no longer taught as history, but in India it is still considered useful. Even many vocal secularists who attack the Hindus for relying on myth in the Ayodhya affair, off-hand profess their belief in the Thomas myth. The important point is that Thomas can be upheld as a martyr and the Brahmins decried as fanatics. In reality, the missionaries were very disgruntled that these damned Hindus refused to give them martyrs (whose blood is welcomed as the seed of the faith), so they had to invent one. Moreover, the church which they claim commemorates Saint Thomas' martyrdom at the hands of Hindu fanaticism, is in fact a monument of Hindu martyrdom at the hands of Christian fanaticism: it is a forcible replacement of two important Hindu temples (Jain and Shaiva), whose existence was insupportable to Christian missionaries. No one knows how many priests and worshippers were killed when the Christian soldiers came to remove the curse of Paganism from Mylapore beach. Hinduism doesn't practise martyr-mongering, but if at all we have to speak of martyrs in this context, the title goes to these Shiva-worshippers and not to the apostle Thomas.
    • Elst, Koenraad. Negationism in India: concealing the record of Islam.
  • In the 4th century AD, Christianity became the dominant and then the established religion in the Roman Empire. The Sassanian rulers of Iran wisely foresaw that the Syrian Christians within their borders would develop into a fifth column of their powerful neighbour. Their solution was to persecute the Syrian Christians. Some of these Christians fled Iran and one group, led by Thomas Cananeus (whose name would later get confused with that of Thomas Didymos the apostle), arrived on India's Malabar coast and asked for refuge. The generous and hospitable Hindus granted the wish of the refugees and honoured their commitment of hospitality for more than a thousand years. The Christian world has no record at all of any such consistent act of hospitality: the only non-Christian community which they tolerated in their midst were the Jews, and the record of Jewish-Christian co‑existence is hardly bright. The Hindus, by contrast, have likewise welcomed Jewish and Parsi communities. Unfortunately, the Portuguese Catholics gained a foothold on the Malabar coast and started forcing the Malabar Christians into the structure of the Catholic Church. Even so, the Christians, who had gotten indianized linguistically and racially, tried to maintain friendly relations with the Hindus. This attitude is not entirely dead yet, a recent instance is the statement by a Kerala bishop denying the false allegation that the BJP was behind the gang-rape of four nuns in Jhabua, a lie still propagated by the missionary networks till today. However, many other Malabar Christians have been integrated into the missionary project, and are now gradually replacing the dwindling number of foreign mission personnel.
    • Elst, K. The Problem of Christian Missionaries , 7 June 1999. [1]
  • “it is no uncommon thing to find [ancient writers] using [the name India] of countries such as Ethiopia, Arabia or Afghanistan. Indeed, except for those who had reason to be acquainted with our India, ‘India’ was a vague term which might stand for almost any religion beyond the Empire’s south-eastern frontiers.... To the fourth century Fathers India is the place of St. Thomas’s labours; but others, of earlier date, say Parthia, that is the Persian Empire stretching from North-West India to Mesopotamia; and of these the most notable is Eusebius the historian, who wrote in the fourth century. He says, ‘When the holy apostles and disciples of our Saviour were scattered over all the world, Thomas, so the tradition has it, obtained as his portion Parthia....’ Eusebius quotes as his authority for this statement the famous Alexandrian Father, Origen (ca. 185-254), thus carrying back the tradition to the first half of the third century. According to Origen and Eusebius, then, it was Parthia to which St. Thomas went. Moreover in another place Eusebius says that it was St. Bartholomew who went to India.... In what he says of St. Bartholomew Eusebius may well have in mind one of the countries bordering on the Red Sea.”
    • C.B. Firth, in An Introduction to Indian Church History,quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • “No deeds of copper plates in the name of Thomas of Cana are now extant,” writes, C.B. Firth in An Introduction to Indian Church History, “... [and] it would be rash to insist upon all the details of the story of Thomas the Merchant as history. Nevertheless the main point – the settlement in Malabar of a considerable colony of Syrians – may well be true.” ... “The second migration [of Syrian Christians] is dated in the year 823, when a number of Christians from Persia, including two bishops, came to Quilon in Travancore and settled there, having obtained from the local ruler grants of land and various other privileges ... and this time contemporary evidence is available in the form of five copper plates recording various grants to the Christians.
    • C.B. Firth, in An Introduction to Indian Church History,quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • The complete incredibility of the Thomas Legend has been established, so that we of a scientific mind can treat of the question, since when have the so-called Thomas-Christians been resident in Southern Indian coastal lands and whence have they come? ... In reality the entire Thomas Legend is [also] fictional.
  • “The difference of their character and colour attest the mixture of a foreign race.... Their conformity with the faith and practice of the fifth century world equally disappoint the prejudices of a Papist or Protestant.”
    • Edward Gibbon quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010. Edward Gibbon, writing about the Syrian Christians of Malabar, in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  • “The manufacturers of this myth about St. Thomas may be asked a simple question: What difference does it make whether Christianity came to India in the first or the fourth century? Why raise such a squabble when no one denies that the Syrian Christians of Malabar are old immigrants to this country? “The matter, however, is not so simple as it sounds at first. Nor can the scholarly exercise be understood easily by those who have not been initiated in the intricacies of Catholic theology. “Firstly, it is one thing for some Christian refugees to come to a country and build some churches, and quite another for an apostle of Jesus Christ to appear in flesh and blood for spreading the Good News. If it can be established that Christianity is as ancient in India as the prevailing forms of Hinduism, no one can nail it down as an imported creed brought in by Western imperialism. “Secondly, the Catholic Church in India stands badly in need of a spectacular martyr of its own. Unfortunately for it, St. Francis Xavier died a natural death and that, too, in a distant place. Hindus, too, have persistently refused to oblige the Church in this respect, in spite of all provocations. The Church has to use its own resources and churn out something. St. Thomas, about whom nobody knows anything, offers a ready-made martyr. “Thirdly, the Catholic Church can malign the Brahmins more confidently. Brahmins have been the main target of its attack from the beginning. Now it can be shown that the Brahmins have always been a vicious brood, so much so that they would not stop from murdering a holy man who was only telling God’s own truth to a tormented people. At the same time, the religion of the Brahmins can be held responsible for their depravity. “Fourthly, the Catholics in India need no more feel uncomfortable when faced with historical evidence about their Church’s close cooperation with the Portuguese pirates, in committing abominable crimes against the Indian people. The commencement of the Church can be disentangled from the advent of the Portuguese by dating the Church to some distant past. The Church was here long before the Portuguese arrived. It was a mere coincidence that the Portuguese also called themselves Catholics. Guilt by association is groundless. “Lastly, it is quite within the ken of Catholic theology to claim that a land which has been honoured by the visit of an apostle has become a patrimony of the Catholic Church. India might have been a Hindu homeland from times immemorial, but since that auspicious moment when St. Thomas stepped on her soil, The Hindu claim stands cancelled. The country has belonged to the Catholic Church from the first century onwards, no matter how long the Church takes to conquer it completely for Christ.
    • S.R. Goel in Papacy: Its Doctrine and History quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • Some Catholic scholars have been busy in an effort to prove that St. Thomas came to India in 52 AD, converted some Hindus in the South and was killed by the Brahmins in Mylapore in Madras. Suffice it to say that some historians have seriously doubted the very existence of an apostle named St. Thomas. Distinguished scholars like R. Garbe, A. Harnack and L. de la Vallee-Poussin have denied credibility to the Acts of Thomas, an apocryphal work on which the whole story is based. Some others who accept the fourth century Catholic tradition about the travels of St. Thomas, point to the lack of evidence that he ever went beyond Ethiopia and Arabia Felix. The confusion, according to them, has arisen because the ancient geographers often mistook these two countries for India.
    • S.R. Goel in Papacy: Its Doctrine and History quoted in The Legend Of A Slain Saint To Stain Hinduism – Swami Tapasyananda in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • [the Portuguese account of their discovery of some relics was] “a most barefaced imposture [with] all elements of a forgery.”
    • Fr. Heras,The Aravidu Dynasty of Vijayanagar. quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • “I am fully convinced that [the tomb of St. Thomas] has never been in Mylapore. I have said that many times.”
    • Fr. Heras, quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010. in 1953, Fr. H. Heras, H. Heras, S.J., Director of the Historical Research Institute, St. Xavier’s College, Bombay,
  • “It is not probable that any of the Apostles of our Lord embarked on a voyage ... to India.”
    • Rev. J. Hough, in Christianity in India,quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • This cult amounted to a kind of St. Thomas religion, and this is attested to by Bishop Jordan, the French Dominican friar who was sent to Quilon by Pope John XXII, in 1330, to convert the Syrians to the Roman creed. Friar Jordan soon had to abandon his Indian flock as incorrigible, and in Marvels Described, writes, “In this India there is a scattered people, one here, another there, who call themselves Christian, but are not so, nor have they baptism, nor do they know anything about the faith: nay, they believe St. Thomas the Great to be Christ.”
    • Bishop Jordan ,quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • "There are many such problems to be solved. For instance, how was St. Thomas located in Brazil, Germany, Tibet, Malacca, Japan, China, etc.? How have his footprints, knee marks, finger marks, mummies, three skeletons, more than half-a-dozen tombs, etc., been found in Asia?... How were the seven dates (AD 50, 51, etc.) for his landing first in South India, and the ten or eleven dates for his death (as non-martyr or martyr) fabricated in South India after 1500 AD? How was he made to land first in Malliankara, or Cranganore, or Mylapore, diversely? How was the Rampan Song about him composed 'in 1601 AD' as quite reliable, and then tampered with in 1952? How has elephantiasis in Cochin been connected with St. Thomas? "How, again, has Jesus Christ been found sojourning in North India and the South of England? How has his sepulchre been found in Kashmir? "Again, how did the Ceylon tradition arise that on 'Adam's Peak' there, 'is the sepulchre of Adam, our first parent', as Marco Polo recorded? How has another tomb of the same Adam been located in Arabia?... How has Ceylon found in it the Buddha's, Adam's and St. Thomas's footprints? How were 'Indians' found in America by the first Europeans who reached it?"
    • T.K. Joseph quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • “St. Thomas Christians seem to be ready to welcome any number of additions to their [Marco Polo] recorded St. Thomas traditions of 1288 to the present day if the fundamental concept of St. Thomas's preaching and death in their South India itself is left intact. They do not mind if he is a non-martyr or a martyr, and do not seem to care if they or their ancestors are accused of sins committed for his sake, or if the Saint himself is described in their records as having ... sinned. They will perhaps readily accept his Ceylon log of wood, his three skeletons, his two Mylapore tombs, his footprints on rocks, his dates 52, 68 AD, etc., his [non-existent] contemporary Biography of 72- 73 AD, his waist cord presented to him by St. Mary on her 'Assumption' to heaven, his coming to South India along with King Gaspar of Jaffna, his settling the Goddess Kali in the Cranganore temple, 69 his withdrawing his dead hand from Chinese intruders to his tomb in Mylapore, and other such things of the kind.”
    • T.K. Joseph quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • The Jesuit Bollandist Peeters and Maurice Winternitz, Professor of Indian Philology and Ethnology at the German University of Prague, categorically deny that St. Thomas came to India. And the Indian “St. Thomas” Christian K.E. Job, a cautious voice among three archbishops, eleven bishops, and fifty-three priests who contributed to the Mar Thoma Centenary Commemoration Volume 1952, writes, “But there are few records enabling one to be positive about the scene of the activities of each of these Apostles [Peter and Paul] and how each of them carried out the commands of their Master ... [and] certain knowledge about the other Apostles [Thomas and Bartholomew] is absolutely inadequate.”
    • K.E. Job quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • In 1952, Prof. K.S. Latourette, the Yale University church historian who had written A History of the Expansion of Christianity, wrote to T.K. Joseph that the evidence against St. Thomas in South India “is very convincing”.
    • Prof. K.S. Latourette,, quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • “You are right in denying any historical value to local legends which have nothing to bring to their support. What is known from early books points only to North-West India, and no other place, for St. Thomas’s apostolic activity and martyrdom. This is, of course, mere tradition, not real history.”
    • In 1927, Sylvain Levi, letter to T.K.Joseph,, quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • “Most church historians, who doubt the tradition of the doubting Thomas in India, will admit that there was a church in India in the middle of the sixth century when Cosmas Indicopleustes visited India.... According to Cosmas, Christians existed in Male and at [Quilon] where a bishop, ordained in Persia, lived.”
    • Dr Mar Aprem. quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.Dr. Mar Aprem, Metropolitan of the Chaldean Syrian Church of the East of Trichur, Kerala, in The Chaldean Syrian Church of the East
  • Dr. A. Mingana, in The Early Spread of Christianity in Asia and the Far East and The Early Spread of Christianity in India, adopts a non-committal attitude towards St. Thomas. We have quoted him as saying, “What India gives us about Christianity in its midst in indeed nothing but pure fables.”
    • Dr. A. Mingana, in The Early Spread of Christianity in Asia and the Far East and The Early Spread of Christianity in India, quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • A number of scholars... have built on slender foundations what can only be called Thomas romances, such as reflect vividness of their imagination rather than the prudence of historical critics. ... The story of the ancient church of the Thomas Christians is of great significance for the whole history of Christianity in India. It is to be regretted that, when all the evidence has been collected and sifted, much remains uncertain and conjectural. ... Millions of Christians in South India are certain that the founder of their church was none other than the apostle Thomas himself. The historian cannot prove to them that they are mistaken in their belief. He may feel it right to warn them that historical research cannot pronounce on the matter with a confidence equal to that which they entertain by faith.
    • Stephen Neill, History of Christianity in India: The Beginnings to 1707 AD, Cambridge University Press, 1984.
  • "For the first three centuries of the Christian Era we have nothing nothing that could be called clear historical evidence [that St. Thomas visited India]..."It is possible that in this dark period the apostle Thomas came to India and that the foundation of the Indian church goes back to him; we can only regret the absence of any clear evidence to support this view."
    • Neill, Stephen, A History of Christianity in India (Cambridge University Press, 1984), p. 49:
  • "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." ... "The Nestorians of India venerated St. Thomas as the patron of Asiatic Christianity – mark, not of Indian Christianity." ... “The authenticity of St. Thomas’s tomb at Mailapur is almost as doubtful as that of Adam’s in Ceylon. However, while the latter arouses Marco’s suspicions because, as he asserts, the Holy Scriptures place it elsewhere, his critical faculties are lulled by the evidence of the miracles that the apostle continued to work in favour of the Christians of that region. He therefore accepted the opinion of the Nestorians of India, who venerated St. Thomas as the patron of Asiatic Christianity, and was unmindful of those numerous fellow believers who, with more legitimate reasons, had set up a whole mythology about his legendary tomb at Edessa. ...*“The first to describe this celebrated Indo-Christian sanctuary and to spread its fame abroad with his book, Marco transformed a place of pilgrimage not very widely important into a centre of Christian piety and propaganda, almost a far eastern peer of Santiago de Compostela [in Spain] at the western limits of the European world, with the difference that the tomb of St. Thomas was guarded by Christians opposed to the Church of Rome. The monks who dwelt nearby, according to Marco’s account, lived on coconut ‘which the land there freely produces’. These religious must have been fairly numerous if, thirty years later, [in 1322,] when the cult was already in its decline, Friar Odoric of Pordenone counted some fifteen buildings about the sanctuary. This had in the meantime become a Hindu temple filled with idols, lacking any visible trace of its ancient Christian cult. Friar John of Monte Corvino, on the other hand, after having passed some thirteen months in that region almost contemporaneously with Marco’s visit, says nothing of the apostle’s tomb, and mentions the church only in passing.... “The story of the apostle’s martyrdom told to Marco by the people of the country is far from original, and is probably of local origin.... We read in the Milione that St. Thomas ended his days as the victim of a hunting accident when the arrow of a native pagan, aimed at a peacock, pierced the apostle’s right side while he was absorbed in prayer.... “No less worthy is the reference to Thomas’s apostolate in Nubia, which, according to information gathered by Marco at this sanctuary, was supposed to have preceded the saint’s sojourn in Coromandel; this would make Thomas the apostle of India and Africa, contrary to the legend that represents him as the evangelist of China.” ...Among the other stories told to Marco Polo by the Syrian Christians, is one that is very revealing. “We also learn from him,” writes Olschki, “of the first attempt known to us to suppress this cult, which was carried out ... by the sovereign of that kingdom. Indeed, when a pagan ruler of the region filled with rice the church and monasteries of Mailapur, in order to put an end to the Christian practices of the Nestorian rites, the apostle threateningly appeared to him in a dream and made him so far change his ways as to exempt the faithful from all tribute and to safeguard the church from violation.”
    • Leonardo Olschki quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • “In what literature is the name of St. Thomas first associated with India? It will appear I think the home of that literature, the original hotbed in which it was reared, was no other than the Church of Edessa. For there is no place within the area occupied, by the language in which those books were written, that had any such interest in the fortunes and destiny of the Apostle. The story of Thomas preaching and his martyrdom in India is first found in the apocryphal Acts of Thomas and it is curious to note that throughout the work the Apostle is generally called Judas Thomas, a name which he also received in that group of documents which Eusebius found among the archives at Edessa. It is palpably a Gnostic work and students of Gnosticism, judging from the stages of development at which they find the heresy in the Acts, assign it to the end of the second century. It may have been written by Bardesanes. But whoever the real author was, I think the details of this work are not only consistent with the belief that they were put together by a member of the Edessene Church, but also defy explanation on any other hypothesis.”
    • Milne Rae ,quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • “I have read [your letter] carefully, and my impression is that you have given good reasons for doubting the historical truth of the story of St. Thomas in South India.”
    • In 1926, Prof. E.J. Rapson, letter to T.K.Joseph,, quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • Both stories [– the one in the Acts and the one in South India –] obviously cannot be true; even an apostle can die but once. My personal impression, formed after much examination of the evidence, is that the story of the martyrdom in southern India is the better supported of the two versions of the saint’s death. But it is by no means certain that St. Thomas was martyred at all. An early writer, Heracleon the Gnostic, asserts that he ended his days in peace.
    • Vincent A. Smith, in The Oxford History of India, quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • The archaeological evidence indicates that these churches were built after the ninth century by Nestorian immigrants from Persia. The famous church at Palayur north of Cranganore was built by the Portuguese and is dedicated to the fourth century martyr St. Cyriac (Mar Kuriakkos Sahada). Fr. Herman D’Souza, in In the Steps of St. Thomas, writes, “The [Palayur] temple deserted by the Brahmins as a result of St. Thomas’s efforts, was turned into a church. Pieces of broken idols and remnants of the old temple were lying around the church till a short time ago. Two large tanks, one on the eastern side of the church and the other near the western gate, are tell-tale relics of the ancient glory of the Hindu temple.” D’Souza was writing in 1983 and includes pictures of the old temple walls, well and tank in his book. He is blaming St. Thomas for the temple-breaking activities of the Portuguese and Syrian Christians.
    • Fr. Herman D’Souza, in In the Steps of St. Thomas, , quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • Though the Saint’s mission and death in India are probably legendary, his reputed burial place was a centre of pilgrimage for Indian Christians.
    • Arnold Toynbee, in A Study of History, quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • Syrian Christians were called Nasranis (from Nazarean) or Nestorians (by Europeans) up to the 14th century. Bishop Giovanni dei Marignolli the Franciscan papal legate in Quilon invented the appellation “St. Thomas Christians” in 1348 to distinguish his Syrian Christian converts from the low-caste Hindu converts in his congregation.
    • A Feast For St. Thomas Ishwar Sharan quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. 4th edition. 2019.
  • “[The Portuguese historians] all ... dilate on the discovery of the tomb of the Apostle Thomas at a spot near where Madras now stands; the narrative of Correa is singularly naïve, and as he was an eyewitness to some of the earlier transactions, singularly valuable. It leaves a feeling of wonder that in such an entire absence of evidence the identification of an event historical or otherwise should be considered complete.
    • R.S. Whiteway, in The Rise of Portuguese Power in India, , quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • Rev. C.E. Abraham, in an article in The Cultural Heritage of India, writes, “The Persian crosses – or so-called ‘Thomas’ crosses – with inscriptions in Pahlavi, one found in St. Thomas Mount, Madras, and two in a church in Kottayam in Travancore, are evidence of the connection of the Malabar Church with the Church of Persia.” According to C.P.T. Winckworth, whose translation of the Pahlavi inscriptions has been accepted, they (except for one, which is partly in Syriac) read: "My Lord Christ, have mercy upon Afras, son of Chaharbukht the Syrian, who cut this."
    • C.P.T. Winckworth, Rev. C.E. Abraham, quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • Sir Henry Yule, writing in his Marco Polo about the Church’s position on St. Thomas in Mylapore, in 1903, says, “The question [of St. Thomas] appears to have become a party one among the Romanists in India in connection with other differences, and I see that the authorities now ruling the Catholics at Madras are strong in disparagement of the localities and of the whole story connecting St. Thomas with Mailapur.”
    • Sir Henry Yule, quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.
  • What emerges from this story is that the Syrian Christians were worshipping in a Hindu temple, which they called a church, at least up to 1322 when Friar Oderic visited Mylapore. Henry Yule, in Cathay and the Way Thither, referring to Friar Oderic’s description of the church, declares, “This is clearly a Hindu temple.”
    • Sir Henry Yule, quoted in Ishwar Sharan. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Third edition. 2010.

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