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!
- Welcome!Blogging is a form of self expression for me. I find it a wonderful, democratic space. So often in life, our articulation and expression are controlled by environment-like relationships or work place. Here, it is only about me and what I want to say. I write about anything: books, movies, issues, rants...anything which strikes a chord in me or makes me think. Life's lighter moments, highs and lows, causes, opinions. Anything. I follow no structure. It is all about self expression - a form of empowerment if you like.
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