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Priest puts St Thomas’s Kerala visit debate to rest

ICC Note:
In a country where Christians are persecuted more and more for not being “Indian,” a new book argues forcefully that Christianity has existed peacefully in India since 52 AD when the apostle Thomas came to Kerala.

by Shali Ittaman
Times of India (12/30/06) – Father Benedict Vadakk-ekara may finally get the Christian world to agree that St Thomas, one of Christs 12 disciples, came to Kerala in 52 AD. It is an ancient debate about St Thomas that refuses to die. Even Pope Benedict XVI thought it important to say recently that the apostle went elsewhere.

It is the debate that Benedict has settled in his book,’ Origin of Christianity in India’, soon to be published by the New Delhi YMCA.

It is a work of history that has the backing of scholars and church leaders such as Dr K N Panikkar, Prof Scaria Zacharia, Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana (Vatican Embassy) and Major Archbishop Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil (Syro-Malabar Church).

Obviously, much is going to be read into Benedicts book. For one it will be derived that Indian Christianity is as old as western Christianity. It will also be recognised that Christianity survived in India and, unlike in the West, did not suffer persecution.

These interpretations are bound to impact the known Christian history. The big inference will, however, be on the identity of the Indian Christians and its impact on the many non-Christian Indians whose lines on home religion and nativity will be altered.

Historically, it has never been fully accepted that St Thomas landed near the Cranganore sea port in Malabar and introduced Christianity to the Indians.

There is no material evidence to prove it. His bones were also not found at the Mylapore tomb in Tamil Nadu, and hence, even his martyrdom there is suspect. (A version about the Portugese excavating bone parts and a spear head at the tomb is also doubted.)… [Go To Full Story]