Heritage Walk: In The Presence Of The Apostle

The final leg of our journey was inside the Church of St Thomas. Although tiny in size, the church has a rich history.

The Church is associated with St. Thomas, one of the Apostles of Christ. The spread of Christianity in India can be traced back to the arrival of St. Thomas on the shores of Kerala. From here he traveled, preaching the message of Jesus before he reached Chennai. It is said that his evangelising angered the locals and he fled to the Mount to escape their wrath. Here he was martyred in AD 72 when he was struck down by an arrow.

The Portuguese built a shrine here in the 16th century at the spot where St. Thomas was martyred. During the course of excavation, a stone cross was unearthed. The cross was believed to have been chiseled by the apostle himself. It was rumoured that he had clutched the cross to his person when he was martyred and his blood spilled onto the cross. Apparently, the stains reappeared even after being rubbed off and even bled periodically. So it came to be known as The Bleeding Cross. This cross is now mounted on the wall of the shrine at the alter. Here is a picture:

It is interesting to note the details on this cross. If not for the cross, it could well have been a Hindu sculpture! Note the 'thorana' and the sort of lotus base on which the cross stands. What a wonderful amalgamation of cultures and religions!

The shrine is also dedicated to 'Our Lady of Expectation' ie, Mother Mary. Above the alter, there is an oil painting of The Madonna. Believed to have been painted by St. Luke and brought to India by St. Thomas, it is one of the oldest Christian paintings in India. Here is a picture:

There was another rather interesting rendition of Mother Mary as full term pregnant. I have never seen it before:

With that our heritage walk concluded and we descended the steps on the other side of the hill. At the last step, I turned back to get one last glimpse.

But before I sign off on this series, I must introduce some spiritual beings that I came across during the walk. This gentleman was enjoying the morning sun at the Garrison Church and was kind enough to hold his pose so I could click a picture:

And this guy is totally self actualised. Bordering nirvana!

Ha! Ha! You didn't think they would be canines now did you? I love dogs and the Lord God Made Them All!

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10 Responses to Heritage Walk: In The Presence Of The Apostle

  1. Very well written, I had a virtual walk with you.Very balanced as well.

  2. Very Nice Deepa ! I literally walked through the church with you, liked the bleeding cross piece, so does this bleed once in a while even now ?

  3. Deepa says:

    @SriLakshmi: Hi! Nice to see you on my blog. And thanks for your kind words :) According to Wikipedia, the recorded bleeding of the cross was in 1704. So no bleeding these days!

  4. radha says:

    Sorry, I seem to have missed some of your posts. Very nice, the description and the dogs :-)

  5. Deepa says:

    Hi Radha! Aren't the dogs cute? They were enjoying the Sunday in the sun and I just could not resist taking a picture. Its quite literally, the "picture of relaxation"!

  6. "It was rumoured that he had clutched the cross to his person when he was martyred and his blood spilled onto the cross."

    ... Reminds me of Joan of Arc.

    "And this guy is totally self actualised. Bordering nirvana!"

    ... Its a lady dog... for sure. And she too is full term :)

    Not sure about the other "gentleman" though...

  7. Deepa says:

    @ Roshmi: Its a female dog! Huh! So much for my powers of observations. I must have buttons instead of eyes in my head :))

  8. Anonymous says:

    A very nice pictorial journal. I've always wondered what the church of St. Thomas looked like.

  9. Deepa says:

    @milkmiracle.net: Now you do! Hope it has motivated you to come and see it in person. :)

  10. Anonymous says:

    Nice! I was in chennai for a year and could manage only a fleeting visit to this place. Must visit the next time I'm there :-)