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Christian tradition teaches that after Pentecost, the disciple Thomas traveled outside the Roman Empire to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and sailed to India in AD 50. The apostle Thomas was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus (Matthew 10:3). The record of Eusebius affirms that the apostles Thomas and Bartholomew were assigned to minster to Parthia and India.
All that is known of Thomas from the Bible is recorded in the gospel of John (chs. 11:16; 14:5; 20:24–29; 21:2). He is commonly known as ‘doubting Thomas’ (John 20:24, 25), but he was a brave and loyal warrior for Christ. The apostle John writes of his bravery, “Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16).
In India, the apostle Thomas landed at the port of Muziris, (modern-day North Paravur and Kodungalloor in modern-day Kerala state) where there was a Jewish community at the time. The Saint Thomas Christian tradition says that he baptized several families and established seven churches (communities) in Kerala. These churches are at Kodungallur, Palayoor, Kottakkavu, Kokkamangalam, Niranam, Nilackal, and Thiruvithamcode.
The saint Thomas Christians say that they have in their possession a version of the gospel story said to have been handed down to them by the apostle Thomas. He is often regarded as the Patron Saint of India, and the name Thomas remains quite popular among Saint Thomas Christians of India.
According to Syrian Christian tradition, Thomas was martyred at St. Thomas Mount in Chennai in 72 A.D. and his body was interred in Mylapore. A Syrian ecclesiastical calendar has an entry which reads, “3 July, St. Thomas who was pierced with a lance in ‘India.’ His body is in Urhai (Edessa) having been brought there by the merchant Khabin.”
In His service,