historically known as Vedapur - the city of the Veda. As the
available historical and archaeological evidence show, it could well
be the oldest part of Chennai, with written records of early
settlements going back to the first century BC. It was known for its
ancient port with a flourishing trade with the Roman Empire,
receiving gold in exchange for its products like pepper and fine
the Apostle died at Mylapore in 72 AD. Ptolemy (AD 100 - 170) had
recorded in the 2nd century AD that the port of Mylapore was known
to the Greeks and the Romans. The Saivite Saints of the 7th Century,
Saint Sambandar and Saint Appar, have sung about the Shrine in their
hymns. Mention has been made of the early settlement of Santhome
(currently known) by Arab travelers and merchants of the 9th and
10th centuries AD. Marco Polo visited the place in the late 13th
century and left a detailed description of the land, the people
along with their customs and religion.
considerable maritime time and the ancient German and Greek maps
refers to the town as Maliarpha. The later Scottish researchers like
James Playfair(1755 – 1794) referred to it as "Meliapour" Mylapore
was occupied by the Portuguese in 1523, who established the
viceroyalty of "São Tomé de Meliapor" or "Saint Thomas of Mylapore."
Portuguese rule lasted until 1749, except for a brief interregnum
between 1662 and 1687, when the town was occupied by the French.
the British East India Company took possession of the settlement and
Mylapore was incorporated into the administration of the Presidency
of Madras. T
Kapaleeswarar Temple is one of the most famous temples of Chennai.
During the period of Kalabhra inter-regnum in Tamil Nadu Originally
built in the 7th century by the ruling Pallavas, the temple was
destroyed by the Portuguese in the 16th century to construct the San
Thome Basilica, and a new temple was constructed in the 16th century
by the Tuluva dynasty (1491–1570 CE) using remains of the old
temple. The main deity of the temple is Lord Shiva. The temple
exhibits exquisite Dravidian architecture. The huge temple is
surrounded by traditional crowded street markets of Chennai selling
fruits, flowers, vegetables and traditional brass ware.
something strange about the History of South India, especially of
Kerala. Whereas we have unbroken history of the reigns of Kings
elsewhere in India, the history of South India is blank from the
coming of St. Thomas until around fifth century for most South
Indian states (Chola and Pandya States) and until around eighth
century in Kerala.
who controlled South India during this period is referred to as
Kalabhras. But nothing of their origin, character, religion or
social structure is known. One even wonders whether these were
intentionally destroyed. Blotting out names and history was an
age-old method practiced in ancient cultures. Historians affirm
that this is exactly what happened in the case of South India as a
whole until the fifth century. In Kerala this period extended until
the eighth century.
the South Indian dynasty who between the third and the 6th century
C.E. ruled over entire Tamil country, displacing the ancient Chola,
Pandya and Chera dynasties. Information about their origin and
details about their reign is scarce. They did not leave any
artifacts or monuments. The only source of information on them is
the scattered mentions in Buddhist and Jain literature. They were
displaced around the 7th century by the revival of Pallava and
These periods were the period when Thomas Christianity was powerful
in all South India. They were never even mentioned in the history -
probably because they were intentionally blotted out by the Gnostic
taking over groups of Hinduism which found its evident clear start
with the seperation of Vaishnavites from Saivites and then later
under Sankara the seperation of Hinduism as we know today from
Christianity was inaugurated soon after the council of Kollam.
Pallavas were of Syrian Gnostic origin.
When the curtain raises under Pallavas we have a Kapaleeswara Temple
where the shrine of Thomas was. Alongside of it there is also the
AdiKesava Perumal Temple constructed in honor of Keshava or Lord
Thomas is traditionally believed to have sailed to Muziris in Kerala
India in AD 52 and was martyred in 72 CE by spear at Mylapore and
his body was interned here.After
his death, his body was buried in the Church built by him. A pot
containing earth, probably moistured by his blood and the lance with
which he was pierced were both buried in his tomb. In the 10th
century AD Christians from Persia, founded this Christian village of
Santhome, and then they built a Church and tomb over the burial site
His relics were moved to Edessa
(now Urfa in
the third century (some time between 222 - 235 AD) by the King
Mazdai (Vasudeva?). Due to war between countries these bones were
moved from Edessa to Chios in 1144 and then from there to Ortona in
The Portuguese who came to India in 1523 AD found a small shrine
called "Ben Thuma", that is, the house of Thomas, in the custody of
a Muslim. The Portuguese then built a Church and erected the Diocese
of Santhome-de-mellapore. Dom Sebasteao-de-Pedro of the Augustinian
Order was the first bishop of the Diocese of Mylapore.
Santhome High Road
Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
holds that St Thomas the Apostle preached in this region and was
martyred on St Thomas Mount.
is built over the tomb of St Thomas. The tomb is empty; however, a
few small relics are within the church.
is only a memorial tomb
The original tomb was opened four times in its history.
was opened for the first time to cure an ailment of the son of the
Raja Mahadevan. St.Gregory of Tours recorded this in his book 'De
Miraculis Sti Thomae'.
was opened for the second time between 1222 and 1235 when most of
the Saint's relics were removed to Ortona in 1258 for a troubled
journey on the East Coast of India. His relics are present in Ortona
was opened for the third time in 1523 by the Portuguese who arrived
at Mylapore to rebuild the ruined Church over the tomb of the
Jose Pinharno, the bishop of Mylapore, opened it for the fourth time
in 1729 to give pilgrims the earth from the sepulcher. It was at
this time a bright light appeared from the tomb.
Today, the Shrine preserves a small bone of the Saint and the head
of the lance with which the Saint was pierced. In 1954, his Eminence
Cardinal Eugene Tasserant brought a piece of bone from the hand with
which the Saint touched the side of Jesus after his resurrection, to
Cathedral: A piece of the Apostle’s arm bone kept in a crucifix
reliquary. It was a gift to San Thome Cathedral from San Tomasso
Cathedral Basilica, Ortona, Italy, and was brought to India in 1953
by Cardinal Tisserant.
Cathedral: The spear head
of the lance that took the life of St. Thomas which was recovered
from the grave during the portuguese excavation and preserved in the
Cathedral Basilica in Ortona contains the actual tomb of Thomas the
San Tommaso Apostolo (Basilica of St Thomas the Apostle),Corso
Giacomo Matteotti 35, 66026 Ortona, Italy *The relics of St Thomas
the Apostle rest within a golden casket placed within a white marble
altar located in the crypt of this church. The
actual tomb of St. Thomas in Ortona, Italy. The complete skeleton of
the apostle has rested in this cathedral since 1258.
Basilica: The complete skeleton of Apostle Thomas has lain in this
cathedral since 1258.
San Thome Basilica was built over his original tomb in the 16th
century by Portuguese explorers, after demolishing the original
Kapaleeshwarar Temple which stood on the grounds, and rebuilt with
the status of a cathedral by the British in 1893 which still stands.
San Thome Basilica is the principal church of the Madras-Mylapore
Roman Catholic Archdiocese. In 1956, Pope Pius XII raised the church
to the status of a Minor Basilica, and on 11 February 2006, it was
declared a national shrine by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of
India. It is an important pilgrimage center for the Syrian
Christians of Kerala. The church also has an attached museum.
skeleton of St. Thomas
Piece of the
Finger bone of St. Thomas in a Roman church.
Piece of the
Skull of St. Thomas the Apostle kept in the Monastery of St. John
the Theologian, Patmos, Greece.