St. Thomas Mount


About

St. Thomas Mount was named after Thomas, the disciple of Jesus who died at the same place. It is a Holy place of religious glory, historical eminence, international prominence, and also a tourist attraction. During the 16th and the 17th centuries, the St. Thomas Mount served as a lighthouse to guide Portuguese and British ships. This Shrine Chapel that is five-century-old has been renovated and restored recently. It is also said that sailors offer prayers for a safe trip and disperse from salutation while sighting the Church. A heritage for Christians, this Mount has always remained a tourist hot spot.

History

St. Thomas Mount is the place where Saint Thomas was assassinated. Thomas, also called "The Twin", was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. It was he who introduced Christianity in India. After the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Thomas fell into the company of a merchant who served King Gondophare in Habban, India. Through him the saint first stepped into India at Malabar Coast, which was previously known as Cranganore in 52 A.D.

After building seven churches along this coast, he entered the Southern part of India and enriched it by laying seeds of the gospel in the hearts of innumerable people. He lived in a cave on a small hillock, which is currently known as the Little Mount, situated about 3 km from St. Thomas Mount. Convicted for spreading Christianity in a society dominated by the Hindu culture, he was pierced with a lance by a Brahmin, 3 km away from Little Mount. Hence that place came to be known as St. Thomas Mount, which stands even today. Later, his body was recovered from there and buried in Chapel Santhome that he himself had built.

By the 14th and 15th centuries, the church fell apart and the remains of Saint Thomas were moved to a new tomb and thereafter another church was built. But in 1893, this too was demolished and a fresh cathedral was built in its place. This Cathedral exists even today and was elevated in 1956 to the status of a Basilica as a mark of honor to Martyred St. Thomas.

Architecture

The St. Thomas Mount has 134 steps made of granite that lead up to the hill. The welcoming arch holds three crosses and is the main entrance. On the way to the hill, a Cross which was said to be personally chiseled by St. Thomas is treasured. It is said that the cross was stained with his blood when he was assassinated. It was excavated in 1547 by the Portuguese, who dug the foundation. According to ancient records, the cross still sweats blood and the last record dates the event in 1704.

An old painting of the Madonna of the Blessed Virgin by St. Luke was brought by St. Thomas, which is kept here. Along the sides of the steps, fifteen Stations of the Cross are placed. The church was built by Fr. Gaspar Coelho, who is also buried here. The Portuguese beautifully ornamented and highlighted the facade. The roof of the chapel is shell-patterned and the outer walls have stone inscriptions in Portuguese. A piece of a bone of St. Thomas has been entombed here, casketed in a beautiful monstrance. The sanctuary is known as the spot where the saint was martyred. The Adoration Chapel is open every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Timings

Worship is held at the St. Thomas Mount church from Mondays to Saturdays at 6:30 in the morning, 12 noon and 6 in the evening. During Sundays, the church is conducted at 7 in the morning and 12 in the afternoon, followed by the 6 p.m. worship in the evening. Masses are held in various languages like Tamil, English, Malayalam, Telugu and Hindi. However, the majority of them are hosted in Tamil as it happens to be the most widely spoken language in Tamil Nadu.

Location

The St. Thomas Mount is located near the international airport in Chennai. It lies at a small distance from the Little Mount. In order to make it accessible to the public, Archbishop Louis Mathias laid an entirely asphalted road all the way to the top of the hill from the southwestern base in 1962. It lies close to the Tambaram High Court and is in the vicinity of T. Nagar, Koyambedu, Avadi, Broadway and Thiruvanmiyur.

How to Reach

There is a railway station named as the St. Thomas Station, and any train going past the station will lead people to the spot. The distance between Chennai Egmore and Chennai Central to St. Thomas Mount is about 20 kilometers. But from here, an auto or taxi needs to be taken in order to reach the Mount. If travelling by flight, the St. Thomas Mount is only 15 minutes away from the international airport. The place can also be accessed by bus.



Last Updated on : 27/11/2013