ST . THOMAS CHURCH CANSAULIM
St. Thomas Church, Cansaulim, Goa is called ‘Sao Tome Igreja em Cansaulim, Goa’ in Portuguese. St. Thomas Church, Cansaulim, Goa is also called ‘The Cansaulim Church’ locally in Goa. The Cansaulim church was originally a chapel built by the Jesuits in1567.
The Feast of St. Thomas Church, Cansaulim, Goa is celebrated on 21st December every year
Thomas the Apostle
Thomas the Apostle was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, according to the New Testament. He is informally called doubting Thomas because he doubted Jesus’ resurrection when first told (in the Gospel of John account only), followed later by his confession of faith, “My Lord and my God”, on seeing Jesus’ wounded body.
Tradition claims he travelled outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel, travelling as far as Tamil Nadu and Kerala in present-day India. According to tradition, the Apostle reached North Paravur and Kodungalloor in the state of Kerala, India in AD 52 and baptized several people, founding what today are known as Saint Thomas Christians or MarThoma Nazranis. After his death, the reputed relics of Saint Thomas the Apostle were enshrined as far as Mesopotamia in the 3rd century, and later moved to various places. In 1258, some of the relics were brought to Abruzzo in Ortona, Italy, where they have been held in the Church of Saint Thomas the Apostle. He is often regarded as the Patron Saint of India, and the name Thoma remains quite popular among Saint Thomas Christians of India.
John 20:24-29 tells how doubting Thomas was skeptical at first when he heard that Jesus had risen from the dead and appeared to the other apostles, saying, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (v.25) But when Jesus appeared later and invited Thomas to touch his wounds and behold him, Thomas showed his belief by saying, “My Lord and my God”. (v.28) Jesus then said, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed.” (v.29)
When the feast of Saint Thomas was inserted in the Roman calendar in the 9th century, it was assigned to 21 December. The Martyrology of St. Jerome of St. Jerome mentioned the apostle on 3 July, the date to which the Roman celebration was transferred in1969, so that it would no longer interfere
In addition, the next Sunday of the Easter is celebrated as the Sunday of Thomas, in commemoration of Thomas’ question to Jesus, which led him to proclaim, according to Orthodox teaching, two natures of Jesus, both human and divine.
The document states that Thomas was the only witness of the Assumption of Mary into heaven. The other apostles were miraculously transported to Jerusalem to witness her death. Thomas was left in India, but after her first burial, he was transported to her tomb, where he witnessed her bodily assumption into heaven, from which she dropped her girdle. In an inversion of the story of Thomas’ doubts, the other apostles are skeptical of Thomas’ story until they see the empty tomb and the girdle. Thomas’ receipt of the girdle is commonly depicted in medieval and pre-Tridentine Renaissance art, the apostle’s infamous doubting reduced to a metaphorical knot in the Bavarian baroque Mary Untier of Knots.
Mission in India
The tomb of Saint Thomas the Apostle is in Mylapore, India
Thomas is traditionally believed to have sailed to India in AD 52 to spread the Christian faith, and is believed to have landed at the port of North Paravur and Kerala where there was a Jewish community at the time. The port was destroyed in1341 by a massive flood that realigned the coasts. He is believed by the St Thomas Christian tradition to have established Ezharappallikal
It was to a land of dark people he was sent, to clothe them by Baptism in white robes. His grateful dawn dispelled India’s painful darkness. It was his mission to espouse India to the One-Begotten. The merchant is blessed for having so great a treasure. Edessa thus became the blessed city by possessing the greatest pearl India could yield. Thomas works miracles in India, and at Edessa Thomas is destined to baptize peoples perverse and steeped in darkness, and that in the land of India.
A long public tradition in Edessa honouring Thomas as the “Apostle of India” resulted in several surviving hymns, that are attributed to Ephrem, copied in codices of the 8th and 9th centuries. References in the hymns preserve the tradition that Thomas’ bones were brought from India to Edessa by a merchant, and that the relics worked miracles both in India and Edessa. A pontiff assigned his feast day and a king and a queen erected his shrine. The Thomas traditions became embodied in Syriac liturgy, thus they were universally credited by the Christian community there. There is a legend that Thomas had met the biblical Magi on his way to India.
According to Eusebius’ record, Thomas and Bartholomew were assigned to Parthia and India. The Didascalia (dating from the end of the 3rd century) states, “India and all countries condering it, even to the farthest seas… received the apostolic ordinances from Judas Thomas, who was a guide and ruler in the church which he built.” Moreover, there is a wealth of confirmatory information in the Syriac writings, liturgical books, and calendars of the Church of the East, not to mention the writings of the Fathers, the calendars, the sacramentaries, and the martyrologies of the Roman, Greek and Ethiopian churches.
An early 3rd-century Syriac work known as the Acts of Thomas connects the apostle’s Indian ministry with two kings, one in the north and the other in the south. According to one of the legends in the Acts, Thomas was at first reluctant to accept this mission, but the Lord appeared to him in a night vision and said,
“Fear not, Thomas. Go away to India and proclaim the Word, for my grace shall be with you.” But the Apostle still demurred, so the Lord overruled the stubborn disciple by ordering circumstances so compelling that he was forced to accompany an ‘Indian’ merchant, Abbanes, as a slave to his native place in northwest ‘India’, where he found himself in the service of the Indo-Parthian king, Gondophares. According to the Acts of Thomas, the apostle’s ministry resulted in many conversions throughout the kingdom, including the king and his brother.
Remains of some of his buildings, influenced by Greek architecture, indicate that he was a great builder. According to the legend, Thomas was a skilled carpenter and was bidden to build a palace for the king. However, the Apostle decided to teach the king a lesson by devoting the royal grant to acts of charity and thereby laying up treasure for the heavenly abode. Although little is known of the immediate growth of the church, Bar-Daisan (154–223) reports that in his time there were Christian tribes in India which claimed to have been converted by Thomas and to have books and relics to prove it. But at least by the year of the establishment of the Second Persian Empire (226), there were bishops of the Church of the East in northwest India (Afghanistan and Baluchistan), with laymen and clergy alike engaging in missionary activity.
It is most significant that, aside from a small remnant of the Church of the East in Kurdistan, the only other church to maintain a distinctive identity is the Saint Thomas Christian congregations along the Kerala in southwest India. According to the most ancient tradition of this church, Thomas evangelized this area and then crossed to the Coromandel Coast of southeast India, where, after carrying out a second mission, he died at Chennai. Throughout the period under review, the church in India was under the jurisdiction of Edessa, which was then under the Mesopotamian patriarchate at Seleucia-Ctesiphon and later at Baghdad and Mosul. Historian Vincent A. Smith says, “It must be admitted that a personal visit of the Apostle Thomas to South India was easily feasible in the traditional belief that he came by way ofSocotra, where an ancient Christian settlement undoubtedly existed. I am now satisfied that the Christian church of South India is extremely ancient…”.
Thomas is believed to have left northwest India when invasion threatened and traveled by vessel to the Malabar coast, possibly visiting southeast Arabia and Socotra en route, and landing at the former flourishing port of North Paravur and Kodungalloor) (c. 51–52 AD) in the company of a Jewish merchant Abbanes (Hebban). From there he is said to have preached the gospel throughout the Malabar coast. The various churches he founded were located mainly on the Periyar River and its tributaries and along the coast, where there were Jewish colonies. In accordance with apostolic custom, Thomas ordained teachers and leaders or elders, who were reported to be the earliest ministry of the Malabar Church.
According to tradition, Saint Thomas was allegedly killed at St.Thomas Mount, near Chennai, in 72A.D and his body was interred in Mylapore. Ephrem the Syrian states that the Apostle was martyred in India, and that his relics were taken then to Edessa. This is the earliest known record of his martyrdom.
Since at least the 16th century, the St. Thomas Mount has been a common site revered by Hindus, Muslims and Christians. The records of Barbosa from early 16th century inform that the tomb was then maintained by a Muslim who kept a lamp burning there. The San Thome Basilica Mylapore, Chennai,
Ancient oral tradition retained by the guaran ítribes of Paraguay claims that Tomé Marangatu (The Good Thomas) or Paí Thome(Father Thomas), one of the twelve apostles, lived among the natives preaching the Gospel and doing miracles in the name of Jesus Christ.