Book 4  Continuation .....................

The Nestorian Section of the Syrian Church

Up to the close of the fourth century the Syrian Church was one, with its literary head-centre at Edessa. Some time after the outbreak of Nestorianism, the extreme eastern section of the Syrian Church, outside the Roman Empire, was captured by the rising sect of Nestorius. Later, Eutychianism, or the Jacobite heresy, as it was subsequently named from Jacob Baradaeus, its ardent upholder, made a second breach in this church. Centuries later, the Maronites broke off from the Jacobites, and returned to the centre of church unity. This divided state explains how the Nestorian section, more than any other church, became and remained closely related by position and intercourse with the centres of Christianity beyond the Euphrates. The continued evidence borne by that church therefore carries much additional weight.

In the Office for the feast of Saint Thomas, kept on the 3rd of July, at Vespers (Bibl. Or. ut supr.), we read :—

‘The Indians inhaled the odour of life by thy doctrine, O Thomas, and discarding all pagan customs at heart and externally, they commenced to cultivate chastity.’

And lower down :—

‘The Lord has deigned to grant Saint Thomas to his faithful church as a treasure found in India ... who for the faith was by a lance pierced.’

The following occurs in the Canticle :—

‘As Christ had anointed Peter to the High Priesthood of Rome, so thou [O Thomas] to-day among the Indians [hast received the same honour].’

In the Nocturn we read :—

‘Thomas took the route to India to demolish the temples of demons, and to extirpate immorality prevailing among men and women.’

We append some further quotations from non-Catholic Syrian calendars, published by Assemani (Bibliotheca Vatican. Codicum Manuscriptorum Catalogus, tom. ii., from a Jacobite calendar, codex xxxvii. p. 250) :_

‘(1) Tesri — October, die 6, Coronatio Thomae Apostoli et regis Indiae et Misadi, ejusque filii Johannis—et decem, &c. p. 266.— Tamuz—Julius, die 3, Thomae Apostoli. p. 271.—Elul—September, die 16, S. Thomae Apostoli.

‘(2) From another Jacobite Calendar, codex xxxix. : p. 275.— Mensis Tesri prior — October, die 6, Thomae Apostoli.

‘(3) From a Syrian Calendar of Saints, codex xxx. pp. 114 ff. —p. 117. — Tisrin prior—October, die 6, Coronatio Thomae Apostoli. p. 131.—Julius 6, S. Thomae,’ etc.

These entries will show that the old principal feast of Saint Thomas, kept on the 3rd of July, gradually fell off in importance; this happened, no doubt, after the destruction of Edessa, and the disappearance of the Relics from the city. Things have come to such a pass, that now, even at Edessa, the present Urfa, no particular feast, in the popular sense, is any longer kept in honour of the saint. This we learnt lately at Rome from Syrians who had newly arrived from urfa. The commingling of the Syrians and Greeks under the new conditions prevailing under Mahomedan rule, brought about the keeping of the feast on the same day, October the 6th, by both communities, though, as should be remarked, the old date yet retains its place in the later calendars. The Armenians also now keep the feast with the Greeks on the 6th of October.

iii.— The Witness of the Fathers of the Western Church

We pass on now to review the testimony given by the Fathers of the Western Church to the Indian apostolate of Saint Thomas.

St. Gregory of Nazianzus21 (Homil. xxxiii., Contra Arianos et de seipso, cap. xi., Migne, P. Gr.—L., vol. xxxvi., 2nd of Gregory Naz. col. 227) :‘What ? Were not the Apostles strangers [foreigners] amidst the many nations and countries over which they spread themselves, that the Gospel might penetrate into all parts, that no place might be void of the triple light or deprived of that of truth, so that the cloud of ignorance among them even who sit in darkness and the shadow of death might be lifted ? You have heard what Paul says : to me was committed the gospel of the uncircumcision, as to Peter was that of the circumcision. Peter indeed may have belonged to Judea; but what had Paul in common with the gentiles, Luke with Achaia, Andrew with Epirus, John with Ephesus, Thomas with India, Mark with Italy? Not to speak of each separately, what had the other Apostles in common with the people to whom they were sent ?’

St. Ambrose22 (Opera omnia edidit Paulus Angelus Ballerini, Mediolani, 1876, tom. ii., Enarratio in Psalm. xlv.§ 21, cols. 389-390), after mentioning the civil wars among the Triumviri, continues: ‘Making wars to cease even to the end of the earth, he shall destroy the bow, and break the weapons, and the shields he shall burn in the fire (Ps. xlv. 10). And in very deed before the Roman empire became expanded, not only were the kings of each city mutually at war, but the Romans themselves were constantly weakened by civil strifes. Whence it came to pass that wearied of civil wars the supreme Roman command was offered to Julius Augustus, and so internecine strife was brought to a close. This, in its way, admitted of the Apostles being sent without delay, according to the saying of our Lord Jesus : Going therefore, teach ye all nations (Matt. xxviii. 19). Even those kingdoms which were shut out by rugged mountains became accessible to them, as India to Thomas, Persia to Matthew. This also (viz., the internal peace) expanded the power of the empire of Rome over the whole world, and appeased dissensions and divisions among the peoples by securing peace, thus enabling the Apostles, at the beginning of the church, to travel over many regions of the earth.’

St. Jerome23 (Epist. lix. ad Marcellam, alias cxlviii. Migne. P.- L., vol. xxii., 1st of Jerome’s, cols. 588-589): ‘The last sheet contained the following question, Did our Lord after his resurrection abide with his disciples for forty days and never go elsewhere ? or did he secretly go to heaven and thence descend, at no time denying his presence to the Apostles ?

‘If you consider our Lord to be the Son of God, of whom it is said, "Do I not fill the heavens and the earth, saith the Lord"?..... You certainly need not doubt that even before the resurrection the true God-head so dwelt in the Lord’s body, as to be in the Father, as to embrace the expanse of the heavens, and to pervade and circumscribe all things, that is, so as to be within all things, and, without, to contain all things. It is foolish to limit to one small body the power of him whom the heavens cannot contain ; and yet he who was everywhere, was also all entire in the Son of Man. For the Divine nature and the Word of God cannot be parcelled out, or divided by place, but, while everywhere, is all entire everywhere. He was indeed at one and the same time with the apostles during the forty days, and with the angels, and in the Father, and in the uttermost ends of the ocean. He dwelt in all places : with Thomas in India, with Peter at Rome, with Paul in Illyricum, with Titus in Crete, with Andrew in Achaia, with each apostolic man in each and all countries.’

St. Gaudentius, bishop of Brescia (died between 410-427). Extract from Sermon xvii., Migne, P.-L., vol. xx. cols. 962-63. This sermon was delivered on the occasion of the dedication of a church named ‘Basilica Concilii Sanctorum’ — Assembly of the Saints, at Brescia in 402. For this church the relics of Saints Thomas, John the Baptist, Andrew and Luke had been secured—hence the title. ‘We possess here the relics of these four who having preached the kingdom of God and his righteousness were put to death by unbelieving and perverse men, and now live for ever in God, as the power of their works discloses. John at Sebastena, a town of the province of Palestine, Thomas among the Indians, Andrew and Luke at the city of Patras are found to have closed their careers (consummati sunt).’24

St. Paulinus of Nola25 (Migne, P-L., vol. 1xi. col. 514) : ‘So God, bestowing his holy gifts on all lands, sent his Apostles to the great cities of the world. To the Patrians he sent Andrew, to John the charge at Ephesus he gave of Europe and Asia, their errors to repel with effulgence of light. Parthia receives Matthew, India Thomas, Libya Thaddaeus and Phrygia Philip.’

St. John Chrysostom.26 This Doctor of the Greek Church does not expressly state that Thomas the Apostle preached the faith to the Indians, but as he says they were evangelised by an Apostle and with the gift of tongues, we can see that some one apostle was present in his mind. We may almost legitimately infer that that apostle was Thomas, for such was the evidence of the saint’s contemporaries, as we have shown above. The well-known fact that the Relics [the Bones] of the Apostle were then at Edessa, a fact which Chrysostom himself attests elsewhere (Homily 26 on the Epistle to the Hebrews, Migne, P. Gr.-L., vol. 63, col. 179), and the general knowledge of the Apostle diffused from that city, make the inference most probable (see also his testimony quoted in Chapter IV.). We should remember also that the saint was a younger contemporary of Ephraem.

In the first of the three passages St. John Chrysostom asserts that in the Apostolic age the Indians, in common with the Scythians and others, accepted the mild yoke of the Gospel teaching. In the second passage he speaks of the gift of tongues conferred on the Apostles, and mentions the Apostle of India as one endowed with the gift. In the third passage he mentions that the apostles erected altars everywhere, and among the Scythians, Persians, and Indians. The three passages will be found below.27

St. Gregory of Tours bears strong and clear testimony to the Apostle’s martyrdom and burial in India, as will be seen in the quotation given in our next chapter.

St. Bede the Venerable [born c. 673, died 735], Opera omnia, Coloniae Agrippinae, 1688, tom. iii., Excerptiones Patrum, Collectanea, &c., col. 485 : ‘The Apostles of Christ, who were to be the preachers of the faith and teachers of the nations, received their allotted charges in distinct parts of the world. Peter receives Rome ; Andrew, Achaia; James, Spain ; Thomas, India; John, Asia; Matthew,’ &c. Further evidence from his Martyrology will be found below.


iv.- The Witness of the Ancient Calendars, Sacramentaries, and Martyrologies of the Latin Church

Each Church from ancient times had its own list of feasts, ferialia, containing ‘dies natalis martyrum,’ the anniversaries of the martyrs of that particular church; and ‘depositio episcoporum,’ the anniversaries of the demise of its bishops ; besides special feasts. Two separate lists were kept, one for the ‘depositiones’ and the other for the ‘dies natales’ and festivals. The Roman church had thus a similar feriale, which in the past has been called by different names. The Roman feriale, containing the two lists under the headings ‘depositiones episcoporum’ and ‘depositiones martyrum,’ was first discovered and published by the Jesuit, Bucher (De Doctrina Temporum, c. cxv. pp. 266 ff. Antwerp, 1634), and thus came to be called the Kalendarium Bucherianum : it was reproduced by Ruinart in Acta Sincera Martyrum. It was subsequently found that this Calendar formed only a part of a larger compilation bearing the name of Furius Dionysius Philocalus, and comprising a variety of elements, such as an Almanac might contain, and had been prepared for one Valentinus.

The latest development of the discoveries of this important document is given by the late Professor Theodore Mommsen in Monumenta Germaniae historica, tom. ix., ed. in 4o, Berolini, 1891, which contains his second edition of this ancient Roman Calendar. Mommsen shows that Philocalus was not the author, but being a celebrated caligraphist of the age he transcribed the compilation, and appended his name to it. Quoting De Rossi, Mommsen shows that Philocalus inscribed himself the ‘cultor’ and ‘amator’ of Pope Damasus : Damasi s[ui] pappae cultor atque amato [r] Furius Dionysius Filocalus scribsit. Under these circumstances Mommsen thought it best to style the compilation — Chronographus anni CCCLIIII.

This Calendar, or rather Almanac, is partly civil and partly ecclesiastical, and a long chronology is attached to it, which has no doubt undergone very considerable enlargement since its first appearance. The civil part comprises eight sections : — dedication to Valentinus; pictures representing principal cities, Rome, Alexandria, Constantinople, &c.; an imperial dedication, the birth days of the Caesars — in his d(omini) n(ostri) Constantii; figures of the seven plan—ets, &c.; the signs of the Zodiac; representations of the months, &c.; pictures of the two emperors of the day, one seated and crowned, the other standing uncrowned; the complete fasti consulares A.U.C. 245 to 753; and post Christum from annus 1 to 354. Then commences the ecclesiastical part containing : (ix) the Paschal cycle from p. Chr. 312 to 358, and with some omissions continued to 410; (x) a list is here intercalated of the Prefects of the city ; (xi) the ‘depositiones’ or burials of the bishops of Rome, the last mentioned being Julius who died A.D. 352; (xii) the feriale of the Roman Church ‘depositiones martyrum’; (xiii) a list of the bishops of Rome ending with Liberius elected in 352; (xiv) the divisions or regiones of the city of Rome; and lastly (xv), the chronology or Liber generationis, &c. Of section (xiii) Mommsen gives a critical text from existing MSS, and supplements defects or omissions from a reconstructed text prepared by Mgr. Duchesne in his Liber Pontificalis.

This compilation was first prepared in 336, and was made public with later additions in the year 354. Mgr. Duchesne (Bolland. Acta SS., November, vol. ii., ‘Martyrologium Hieronymianum, ediderunt Joh. Bapt. de Rossi et Ludov. Duchesne,’ pp. x1viii.— xlix) observes that the list ‘depositiones episcoporum’ contains the names of only some of the Popes; and the ‘depositiones’ or ‘dies natales martyrum’ also contains only some of the Roman martyrs, while others are omitted. He concludes that what has been given in this compilation is only an excerpt of the Roman feriale now lost.28

A similar calendar belonging to the Church of Carthage was discovered and published by Mabillon. It was also incorporated by Ruinart in his Acta above mentioned. It opens with the following heading : Hic continentur dies natalitiorum Martyrum et depositiones episcoporum quos ecclesiae Cartaginis anniversaria celebrant.29 This Carthaginian calendar is rather provincial than diocesan, and belongs to the beginning of the sixth century, and is not much later than a.d. 502.

Next in antiquity to the Philocalian is another Roman calendar found attached to the Leonine Sacramentary Codex of Verona, the date of which is c. 488. The third calendar in order of date is the Gelasian c. 495, so called after Pope Gelasius and found attached to his Sacramentary. The fourth is the Gregorian attached to the Sacramentary of Pope Gregory the Great, c. 591.30 The Sacramentarium formed the Missale of the ancient church, and the calendar was attached to it, as now to our modern Roman Missal. The same practice prevails in the Syrian Church as may be seen from its printed Missals. Intermediate between the Gelasian and Gregorian calendars comes the Martyrologium Hieronymianum, of which more later.

The earliest calendar, the Philocalian or ‘Chronographus anni CCCLIIII.,’ contains the names of only two Apostles, St. peter and St. Paul, III. Kal. Jul. Petri in Catacumbas et Pauli Ostiense, with the commemoration de Cathedra Petri assigned to the 22nd of February; the feast of the nativity is given on the 25th December. It contains a scanty list of Roman martyrs, and also the names of Cyprian and of one or two non-Roman martyrs.

The MS of the Leonine calendar is defective, and the leaves containing three and a half months are missing; the manuscript now begins with XVIII. Kal. Maias, the 14th April. The feast of our Saint George is found in this calendar on IX. Kal. Maias, the 23rd of April. The existence at Rome, in Velabro, of an ancient basilica dedicated to the saint accounts for the inclusion of his name in this ancient calendar, and attests the early diffusion of his festival. Of the Apostles, besides St. Peter and St. Paul, we have Saint Andrew, Peter’s brother, Prid. Kal. Dec., 30th of November, and Saint John, VI. Kal. Jan., 27th of December : the Holy Innocents are also commemorated and two dedications of basilicas, Angeli in Salarium, and another which, though marked Natale sancti Stephani in Coemeterio Callisti Via Appia, is not the feast of the saint himself, but of the dedication of his basilica, as Muratori (Litur. Rom. Vetus, ut supr., vol. I., col. 70) points out. The missing portion of this calendar would probably not have contained the names of any of the other Apostles, as none of their festivals fall between January and the middle of April.

The Gelasian calendar has kalendis Maii — ist May, Philippi et Jacobi Apostolorum,31 Natale Apostolorum Petri et Pauli, and Saint Andrew on the usual days, and XII. Kal. Jan. Sancti Thomae Apostoli, on the 21st December ; it gives also St. John the Evangelist.

The Gregorian calendar, as might be expected, contains more names than any of its predecessors. It gives the following feasts of the Apostles : St. Philip and St. James, St. John ad Portam Latinam, St. Peter and St. Paul jointly, as also a separate feast of St. Paul on the day following, St. Andrew and St. John the Evangelist.

These Sacramentaries, even the earlier Leonine, generally give more than one mass for each of the above mentioned Apostles. For the festival of St. Thomas the Gelasian has a special mass (ut supr. lib. II., § LXXI.), In Natali Sancti Thomae Apostoli; it gives three proper prayers for the same. The first of these is the prayer now named ‘Collect,’ which in the ancient Sacramentaries bore no name; the second is marked in the text ‘Secreta’; and the third ‘Post Commun.’ or post-communion. The primitive first prayer or collect of this mass remains unchanged in the Roman Missal to this day, but in the Secret a few verbal changes have been introduced, and a new post communion has replaced that of the Gelasian. There is no proper preface to this Gelasian mass, though several of the other masses have, in addition to the three prayers, also their special preface. These ancient prefaces, like those still retained in the Roman Missal, always contain some special reference to the mystery, or the saint commemorated.

Though the existing text of the Gregorian Sacramentary does not mark the feast of Saint Thomas in the calendar, or contain a mass for the same, there is proof available that it formerly did contain a mass for the feast. In the collection of prefaces at col. 1044 (apud Muratori ut supr.), under the heading Undecimo Kalendas Januarii, Natale Sancti Thomae Apostoli, a preface is given : ‘Vere dignum et justum est,’ &c. The editor remarks in a footnote that the above preface in the Vatican Codex is assigned in unius Apostoli ad missam. The date given above for the feast would place it on the 20th December; this must be due to an error of the copyist : the reader will observe that the date is written in words, not in Roman numerals, as in the previous quotations ; probably the last character of the Roman numeral XII. was effaced by age, or inadvertently overlooked by the copyist who wrote ‘undecimo Kalendas’ instead of ‘duodecimo Kalendas.’ The calendars show no variation of this date, and it may be taken for certain that 21st December was the accepted date of the Apostle’s martyrdom. In the old ‘Secret’ of the mass in the Gelasian Sacramentary occur the words, ‘Cujus honoranda confessione laudis tibi hostias immolamus,’ &c. These words, retained also in the present Roman Missal, imply that the Apostle suffered martyrdom, and so do the words of the heading, In Natali Sancti Thomae. In the Martyrologies the words in Natali or Natalis are only used for martyrs.

The Hieronymian Martyrology is anterior to the Gregorian Sacramentary, and though never used for Liturgical or ecclesiastical services, is a document of very considerable authority. Compiled largely from ancient authentic documents existing in the fourth century, the primitive body of the compilation comprised three principal elements, viz. : A Roman calendar fuller than that which has come down to us through Philocalus; the eastern Greek calendar, probably of Antioch, comprising also that of the Church of Nicomedia; and nearly the entire African provincial calendar. The Greek portion incorporated appears to have been derived from the same source from which the translation in Syriac was done, which has come down to us bearing the date 723 of the Seleucan era (a.d. 411- 412), and which is the oldest Syriac dated MS extant. This calendar, though styled by Dr. Wright, who discovered it in the British Museum, ‘an ancient Syrian Martyrology,’ is, in its principal part—from 26 Kânân (December), to 24 Teshri, November (pp. 423-431), a translation of a Greek calendar, closing, according to Wright’s translation, with the words : ‘here end the Confessors of the West.’ What follows bears the heading : ‘the names of our Lords, the Confessors who were slain in the East’; this second portion, covering pp. 431-432, consists of one and a half pages of octavo in print (see Journal of Sacred Literature, London, January, 1866, pp. 423-432, where the translation first appeared). The Martyrologium Hieronymianum (ut supr.) gives of the first above part the Syriac text, and in parallel columns offers also translations in Greek and Latin, pp. li.-lxiii., and so attempts to reproduce for the benefit of students the primitive text now lost. Of the second part it gives the Syriac and a translation only in Greek, pp. lxiii.lxv. This Hieronymian Martyrology, as Mgr. Duchesne shows, incorporated also a considerable number of local feasts of the churches of northern Italy, which makes him suspect that the work was compiled in that locality. It first went under various names — of Eusebius of Caesarea, of Jerome, and of Chromatius and Heliodorus; but is now generally known as the ‘Martyrologium Hieronymianum.’

The existence of such a compilation was known to St. Gregory the Great. We have a letter (Ep. viii. 28, J. 1517) written by him (between 590-604) in reply to Eulogus, the bishop of Alexandria, who had asked him ‘to send a collection of the acts of all the martyrs which had been compiled by Eusebius of Caesarea.’ The Pope replies that he does not know of such a work, and has searched in vain at Rome for such a collection ; but he adds, ‘We have the names of nearly all the martyrs marked with their separate passion (martyrdom) for each day, gathered in one volume, and we daily offer the Mass in their honour. But this volume does not specify what each suffered, but gives only the name, place, and day of passion. Whence it comes that many (multi) from diverse lands and provinces are known to have been crowned on each day, as I have said. But this we believe your blessedness possesses.’

Prior to this, Cassiodorus (between 540-570) (De Institutione divinarum litterarum, c. 32) exhorted his monks to ‘read regularly the passions of the martyrs, who flourished all over the world, which you no doubt will find—inter alia—in the letter of St. Jerome to Chromatius and Heliodorus, that moved by their holy example you may be led to things heavenly.’ The letter here mentioned is that which prefaces this Martyrology, and is in reply to one by the bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus to Jerome. These two letters, which are acknowledged to be fictitious, it would seem were known to the writer as prefacing some codex containing the acts of martyrs which he recommends the monks to read ; and this may have led him to suppose that other codices similarly contained the letters and the acts. But the ordinary codices of the martyrology which are prefaced with these letters contain no acts of martyrs, but answer the description given by Pope St. Gregory, that is to say, they give the name of each martyr and the place and date of martyrdom. It follows that this Martyrologium was in existence in Italy by the middle of the sixth century. Mgr. Duchesne shows (ut supr. p. xliii.) that it was in France towards the close of the same century; and he further infers (p.lxxiv.) from a close analysis of the saints of the churches of northern Italy found in the text, that ‘nulla ratio est distinguendi inter collectorem illum (referred to by Cassiodorus) et martyrologium, quem ipsa Chromatii et Heliodori cura Italiae superiori adnectit.’

The existing MSS do not present the primitive form of this Martyrology. De Rossi concludes, from a comparison with the texts of other martyrologies dependent on this, that the older recension had entries of superior value to those now found. In its present form the martyrology contains a great many erroneous entries, resulting from the incorporation of marginal notes on older codices; these have become duplicated by insertion in wrong places and at different dates ; names have been misread; others have been split up and new entries have thus been formed. These alterations and the nonsurvival of primitive documents make it extremely difficult to reconstruct the Martyrology in its primitive form. De Rossi was hopeful of doing this till disabled by paralysis, and, if attempted, he has left no trace of his work. Even his share in preparing the introduction for the publication of the Hieronymian text of the Martyrology, was but partly completed, and his collaborator, Mgr. Duchesne, had to finish the work. The arduous task of re-constructing the primitive text awaits the enterprise of a competent scholar.

The edition referred to has been very carefully prepared. The oldest principal texts of the different recensions are given in three parallel columns, with the variants of a large number of subsidiary codices dependent on the Hieronymian Martyrology. The codex princeps occupies the middle column, and though now at Paris, it formerly belonged to the monastery founded about 698 by St. Willibrord, the Apostle of Friesland, at Epternac, in the diocese of Treves, and is therefore known as the Epternacensis. As De Rossi remarks, it was ‘written by Englishmen for the use of Englishmen.’ The Calendar attached to this MS was written for St. Willibrord himself, and holds an entry in his own handwriting : this Calendar is written in an Anglo-Saxon hand, and is not later than 702-706. The Martyrology to which it is now attached was written a little later, but the whole manuscript is probably well within the first quarter of the eighth century. Its text is remarkable for accuracy of entries and purity of readings.

The column to the left is occupied by an excellent codex, now known as Bernensis; it formerly belonged to Metz, and was written at the latter end of the eighth century; the last quaternion is missing, and the text is incomplete from 22 November to 24 December. The remaining column contains what is now known as the codex Wissemburgensis : it belongs to the family of codices named after the monastery of Corbie in the diocese of Amiens, and was written late in the eighth century. A fragment is also given, all that now exists, of the codex Laureshamensis (of the convent of Lauresheim or Lorch, diocese of Treves) ; De Rossi terms it an ‘insigne fragmentum.’ It is important we should take note that, in the opinion of this learned Christian archaeologist, it is ‘the only existing sample of the fuller Jeromian text’ now lost, containing also some historical details taken from the Acts of the Martyrs. This fragment was lost for a time in the Vatican Library till recovered by Mr. Henry Stevenson (see Martyrol. Hieron., ut supr., pp. x.-xi., § 3).

We now proceed to show what the Martyrologium Hieronymianum contains regarding the Apostle Saint Thomas.

In the complete manuscripts, on a folio preceding the text of the martyrology proper, there is a list containing the festivals of the Apostles only. In the Epternac codex this list is headed : ‘Notitia de locis Apostolorum,’ and the entry regarding Saint Thomas is as follows :—

xii. kl. ian. Nat. S. Thome apostoli in India et translatio corporis ejus in Edessa (V.K. Jul. 2am.) [it should be v.n., July 3rd, as the text shows].

Note.— This brief entry exactly sums up all that has to be said : the Natalis or martyrdom is kept xii. kl. ian. (21st Decr.), and the feast translatio corporis ejus in Edessa, on July 3rd.

In the body of the Martyrology (cod. Epternac) there are two entries :—

(I.) v. Non. Jul. Translatio Thome apostoli in Edessa (a).

(II.) xii. Kal. Jan. Passio Thomae apostoli in India (b).

The above are the readings given in situ, but the editors in a summary of the Apostle’s festivals (p. lxxvii.) add the following explanatory notes :—

(a) Ita E. [Epternac], cett. [caeteri] : In Edissa Mesopotamiae, transl. corporis S. Th. ap. qui. passus est in India.

(b) Ita E.; N. [for 3rd col. of print] : In Mesopotamia, civitate Edissa natl. et transl. corporis S. Thomae qui translatus est ab India, cujus passio ibidem celebratur v. non. iul.

The best and most accurate statement of the Apostle’s festivals is given, as was to be expected, by the Epternac copy of the Hieronymian Martyrology : thus on the 3rd of July—v. non. Jul. ‘the translation of Thomas the Apostle in Edessa,’ and on the 21st of December—xii. Kal. Jan. ‘the Martyrdom (passio) of Thomas the Apostle in India.’ These entries represent the real facts as to the two celebrations kept by the Church in memory of the apostle. It should also be noted as regards note (b) that N. (the third codex and other readings of codices given there) distinctly says that the feast was celebrated in India on the 3rd of July : we shall recur to this later.

Besides the two entries (I.). and (II.) which we have extracted from the Martyrology (pp. lxxvi.-lxxvii), there are two others (in corpore):—

(III.) v. Kal. Jan. In Edessa Translatio corporis S. Thomae apostoli (c).

(IV.) iii. Non. Jun. Natalis S. Thomae apostoli.

(c) [Our note : ita codd . Bernen. fragment. Lauresh. et N.]

As regards (III.) v. Kal. jan., 28th of December, "In Edessa the translation of the body of Thomas the Apostle," as this is a week after the feast kept on the 21st, it may be taken as a celebration of the octave. The fourth entry (IV.) iii. Non. Jun. is obviously an error, and is not supported by other texts. Duchesne says : Ex Gregorio Turonensi scimus apostoli festum ab Edessenis Julio mense celebratum fuisse; etiam nunc a Syris Julii 3 Thomas recolitur, ergo dies v. non. Julii recte, dies iii. non. iun. errore assignatus est. The reader will have noticed that in some of the best texts of the Martyrology, as shown by the editorial notes reproduced under (a) and (b), some confusion or rather blending of the ‘natalis’ and the ‘translatio’ has occurred, though the same texts designate Edessa for the translation and India for the martyrdom. This point could be further confirmed, if necessary, by entries in the other codices. These double entries taken together, if anything, confirm more fully the accuracy of (I.) and (II.).

As to the feast the Syrian Church keeps — not that of the martyrdom, but of the translation of the Relics—we have in the Roman Martyrology a parallel case of another Apostle. This Martyrology marks the feast of St. James the Apostle, the brother of the Evangelist John, on the 25th of July; this is not the feast of his martyrdom, which, as the Martyrology informs us, occurred at Jerusalem, about Easter, under Herod (Acts xii.2), but of the transfer of his Relics thence to Compostella, in Spain : and this is the only festival of this Apostle in the Roman Martyrology.32 So also the Syrians keep only one feast of Saint Thomas, the feast of his translation to Edessa; more will be said on this subject in another part of the book.

De Rossi also treats fully (p. xvii., ut supr.) of the two ancient codices of Lucca, edited by Florentini, alias Florentius Franciscus Maria, Vetus Occidentalis Ecclesiae Martyrologium D. Hieronymo tributum, Lucae, 1668. Mabillon dated the older of these codices c. 800; De Rossi would assign it to the eleventh century. The following two entries of the festivals of Saint Thomas are taken from the printed edition :—

xii Kal. Januarias. In Mesopotamia civitate Edessa Translatio corporis S. Thome apostoli, qui translatus est ab India ; cujus passio ibidem celebratur v Non. Julii.

v Nonas Julii. In Edessa Mesopotamie translatio corporis S. Thomae Apostoli, qui passus est in India.

The former entry blends the feast of the ‘natalis’ with that of the ‘translatio,’ an inaccuracy common to several MSS, but both entries distinctly specify (1) that the passio was in India, (2) that the translatio was from India, and one of them (3) specifies that the feast was kept in India ‘v Non. Julii,’ or the 3rd of July.

The Martyrologium Bedae (see critical discussion by De Rossi, ut supr., p. xxiv. § 15), according to the Bollandist edition, Acta SS. Martii, tom. ii. p. xlii.; and Migne, P.-L., tom. xciv., Oper. Bedae, tom. v.col. 1137, gives the following entry :—

(I.) xxi, xii Kal. Jan. Nat. S. Thomae Apost.

Florus addit in ATL [Codd. Attrebatensis, Tornacensis, Laetiensis], qui passus est in India, lancea quippe transfixus occubuit. Hujus etenim corpus translatum est apud Edissam civitatem. T quinto nonas Julii.

From Bedae Opera omnia, Coloniae Agrippinae, 1688, tom. iii.col. 359; also Migne, P.-L., tom. xciv., ut supr., col. 1137, the Martyrologium as given there :—

xii Calend. Jan.

Natale beati Thomae Apostoli qui Parthis et Medis Evangelium praedicans, passus est in India. Corpus ejus in civitatem quam Syri Edessen vocant, translatum, ibique digno honore conditum est.

Martyrol. Bedae, Bolland. Acta Ss., ut supr., p. xxii.; Migne, ut supr., col. 965:-

(II.) v Nonas [Julii]. Translatio S. Thomae apostoli in Edessa ex India.

Addit B [Barberinianum] qui fuit passus in India 12 Kal. Januarii.

At same date the Cologne edition, ut supr., and Migne, col. 966 :—

v Nonas Julii apud Edessam Mesopotamiae translatio corporis sancti Thomae apostoli.

Bede supplies the following particulars regarding his Martyrology (at the close of his Hist. Eccl., col. 390, Migne, tom. vi., Oper. et P.-L., tom. xcv.) : Martyrologium de natalitiis sanctorum martyrum diebus; in quo omnes quos invenire potui, non solum qua die, verum etiam quo genere certaminis, vel sub quo judice mundum vicerint diligenter [al. om. diligenter] adnotare studui.

The reader should be informed that in the discussion above mentioned De Rossi says that the Bollandist edition of Bede’s Martyrology by no means reproduces all that the best texts of the same offer, and he repeats the caution, previously given by Scipio Maffei, that superior MSS of Bede’s text exist in the Chapter House (of the Canons) at Verona; and, on his own account he adds, that he found there not one but two parchment codices of the ninth century, numbered lxv. and xc., which contain a text fere absque additamentis; he mentions also the existence of other ninth-century MSS of the text at the Vatican. The ‘Florus,’ named after our first quotation above given in the Martyrology, was a sub-deacon of the Church of Lyons, a.d. 830, who first enlarged Bede’s work.

We are enabled through the kindness of the authorities of the Cathedral of Verona to further strengthen the above witness from Bede’s Martyrology, by giving also the readings for the two festivals from the two ancient codices highly commended by De Rossi. The Cathedral Chapter is the fortunate possessor of 450 ancient codices, comprising these two :—


Codex lxv. (63) Venerabilis Bedae Martyrologium, fol. 47v, line 11 :—

(1) xii kl ian sci thome apti

(Kalendas Januarias Sancti Thome apostoli).

Codex xc. (85) Orationes Hymni Preces Martyrologium Bedae, fol. 109v, 3rd last line :—

(2) xii k ian nat sci thome, apti.

N.B. — The letter h by a later hand of the tenth century.


Codex lxv. (63) fol. 23v, line 12 :—

(3) v n iul Translatio thome, apti.

Line 13:—

In edissa passus vero In India.

Codex xc., fol. 103v, line i :—

(4) v non iul translatio thome apti

Comparing A (1) and (2) with (I.) of Bollandist edition, we ascertain that the true reading of Bede’s Martyrology at December 21 gives natalis of the Apostle with no additional remark. Comparing similarly B (3) with (II.) of Bollandist edition, the genuine reading of the text expresses two separate ideas or facts — in (II.) translatio in Edessa ex India, and in B (3) translatio in edissa passus vero in India. Thus Bede’s Martyrology harmonises completely with the Hieronymian in placing the ‘martyrdom in India,’ and the ‘transfer of the Relics to Edessa,’ of the Apostle Thomas.

Codex lxv. contains the larger, Codex xc. the abbreviated Martyrologium of Bede.

We shall close this section, dealing with the Liturgical Books of the Western Church, with two quotations from the authorised Martyrologium Romanum in present use, and a short historical note on its revision and authorised edition.

Duodecimo Kalendas Januarii.

Calaminae natalis beati Thomae Apostoli, qui Parthis, Medis, Persis, et Hyrcanis Evangelium praedicavit, ac demum in Indiam perveniens, cum eos populos in Christiana religione instituisset, Regis jussu lanceis transfixus occubuit; cujus reliquiae primo ad urbem Edessam, deinde Orthonam translatae sunt.

Quinto Nonas Julii.

Edessae in Mesopotamia Translatio sancti Thomae ex India, cujus reliquiae Orthonam postea translatae sunt.

The Roman Martyrology now sanctioned for use was prepared by Cardinal Baronius, and approved by Pope Gregory XIII. in a brief dated January 14, 1584; it is a new edition of the Martyrologies of Ado, Archbishop of Vienne, and of Usuard, revised and completed. As to the part which the Pope personally took in the revision, Baronius states in the Tractatus, which is prefixed to every edition, cap. viii. : ‘Cui [videlicet Martyrologio] etsi ex nostris Notationibus levis certe aliqua accessit emendatio, vel si quid additum reperitur (quod quidem perraro factum invenies), id nos ejus, cujus summa est in Ecclesia auctoritas, constanti voluntate fecisse lector intelligat.’

Baronius speaks of three editions—the third, of 1584, is his work; the two preceding he styles faulty.

V.— The Witness of the Greek and Abyssinian Churches

The Liturgical Books of the Greek Church comprise among others :—

Mhnaîa, the Menaea, used in the plural, denotes the entire series of Office books which are usually bound in twelve volumes, one for each month. A single volume of the compilation, for a month, is termed tò mhnaton in the singular. The Menaea contain the variable parts of the Offices for fixed festivals, comprising a variety of elements.

Mhnológion, the Menologium, answers somewhat the purpose of the Martyrologium of the Western Church ; it contains the acts and lives of martyrs and saints. One was compiled by order of the Emperor Basil (a.d. 867-886); and Constantine Porphyrogenitus (a.d. 911) directed Simeon Metaphrastes to compile the lives of saints and the acts of martyrs arranged in order according to the months of the year. This was the earliest compilation of the sort; there is another in Latin by Surius, and that of Alban Butler in English is perhaps the latest.

sunaxárion, the Synaxarium : Goar defines it ‘sanctorum vitas volumen brevibus verbis complectens suvaxártov est.’ In the plural, suvaxária denote the twelve volumes for the year containing short lives of saints and acts of martyrs read in the Liturgical Offices.

The two first quotations given below are from the Synaxarium; the other two are from the Menologium, compiled by order of the Emperor Basil.

The Synaxarium Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae 33 gives (col. 113 seq.) :—

‘The same month [October] 6.’

‘The conflict of saint Thomas the apostle, named also Didymus [the Twin]. He having preached the word of God to the Parthians, and the Medes, and the Persians, and the Indians, and having brought great multitudes to the faith of Christ by miracles innumerable, was put to death by Misdeus, King of the Indians, because Uzanes, his son, and Tertia, the mother, and Narkia had believed, and were by him baptised. On this account he was consigned to five soldiers, who, taking him up the mount, covered him with wounds and made him attain his blessed end. Nisifor and Uzanes remained on the mount ; the apostle, appearing, told them to be of good heart. For he had ordained Nisifor a priest and Uzanes a deacon.

‘After these things had happened, the son of the King was suffering from a mortal disease, and the King asked that a relic of the apostle might be brought to his son who was already beyond hope of recovery, and near death. As the body of the apostle was not found, he ordered earth from the grave to be fetched. On this earth touching the dying man he was cured at once. But the King, even then not having believed, died a corporal and spiritual death.’

Col. 781 :—

‘The month of June, 30.’

(‘Feast of the Commemoration of the Apostles.’)

‘5. The seventh Thomas, who is also named Didymus [the Twin]. He having preached the God-Word to the Parthians, the Medes, the Persians, and the Indians, was by these killed, transfixed with lances.’

The Menologium.— The subjoined extract is taken from the best edition of the work, one superbly illustrated; divided into three parts with Greek text and Latin translation. 34

Pars i., p. 97 :—

‘October, the sixth day. — The contending of saint Thomas the Apostle. After the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ when the Apostles each went to the countries which had fallen to them by lot to teach, to saint Thomas fell the country of the Indians, where he preached Christ. Because he had brought to the faith of Christ the wife of the King of the Indians and her son, he is traduced before the King, who orders Thomas to be cast into prison with other convicts. The King’s son, with his mother and others, not a few, enter the prison by bribing the soldiers, are by him baptised, and, after a suitable delay, from among them priests and deacons are ordained, who taught in the name of Christ. On the King coming to know this, being angered, he ordered the Apostle to be taken from the prison and consigned to soldiers to be executed. The holy man thus taken to the mount is by them transfixed with a lance and killed.’

Pars iii., p. 146 : —

June the thirtieth.’

‘Synaxis of the Twelve Apostles.’

‘The seventh, Thomas Didymus, is by the Indians transfixed by lances.’

As regards the Abyssinian Church, we may quote from an Ethiopian Calendar of the twelfth century, which was published by Job Ludolf35 This Calendar contains the following entry for the feast of Saint Thomas :-

In mense Octobris 6, Thomas Indiae Apostolus.

The practice of the Greek Church of keeping the Apostle’s feast on the 6th of October, as we have already seen, had affected other Eastern churches, and now we find the Abyssinian Church, which was dependent on the Church of Alexandria, observing the same date. As is known, even to the present day the Abyssinian schismatics receive their ‘Abbuna’ or bishop from the schismatic Coptic patriarch of Alexandria.




On the broad fact that Saint Thomas the Apostle, according to the evidence of antiquity, had preached the Gospel and sealed his teaching by his martyrdom in India, it should be taken for granted that if his tomb were to be discoverable anywhere, it would naturally be found within the limits of India proper. Yet this, which in itself is but an historical aphorism, has met with the strongest opposition ever since the Portuguese first announced the discovery of his tomb at Mylapore. This opposition has come first and chiefly from quarters which must cause an impartial historian, who patiently investigates the whole history of the case, to consider the same as being rather the outcome of ‘odium theologicum,’ than arising from insufficient historical evidence.36

A plausible excuse for the general feeling of scepticism created by these writers was, in part, offered by the want of previous historical knowledge shown by the Portuguese authorities and writers in India who claimed to have discovered the body, or the entire remains of the Apostle, coupled with other uncritical details.

Once the opposition view, arising at first from the doubt regarding the tomb, was taken up and ruthlessly exploited, it was extended to the preaching of the Gospel by the Apostle within the geographical limits of India, and a widely extending prejudice was formed. It is only in more recent times, when men indifferent to that ‘odium,’ or guided by their familiarity with, or their long researches in India approached the subject, that they came gradually to admit the Apostle’s mission to India, and to consider the strong historical claim of Mylapore to be the possible site of his martyrdom and burial, as not unfounded. Some of these expressions of opinion will be found in the course of this work.

Under these circumstances, and eliminating the controversial element from an historical investigation, it has been thought best, after setting forth the available evidence for the Indian Apostolate, to bring forward such evidence as will uphold for Mylapore37 the claim to the tomb.

1. — The Visit of Theodore to the Indian Shrine of the Apostle Thomas before a.d. 590, as set forth by St. Gregory of Tours

Gregory of Tours, the best known of the writers of the Merovingian period and the father of Frankish history, born, probably on November 30 in 538, at Clermont-Ferrand, the ancient Avernia, bore the name of George Florentius which he subsequently dropped on assuming that of Gregory from his maternal great- grand-father, Gregory, bishop of Langres. He was educated by his paternal uncle, St. Gall, bishop of Clermont, 546-554. In 573 he was elected to the see of Tours. Fortunatus of Poitiers, the Christian poet, has left a laudatory poem commemorating the event, addressed ‘ad cives Turonicos de Gregorio episcopo.’

The Bishop of Tours in his In Gloria Martyrum, a work which he revised in 590, shortly before his death (which occurred on the 17th November, 593 or 594), writes : ‘Thomas the Apostle, according to the narrative of his martyrdom, is stated to have suffered in India. His holy Remains (corpus), after a long interval of time, were removed to the city of Edessa in Syria and there interred. In that part of India where they first rested, stand a monastery and a church of striking dimensions, elaborately adorned and designed... This, Theodore, who had been to the place, narrated to us.’

Gregory’s authority for the tomb of the Apostle Thomas being situated in India came from an eyewitness, Theodore, probably a travelled Syrian Christian, who had visited the Indian Shrine and venerated the Relics at Edessa as well: he may then have gone to Gaul making, or completing, a tour to the celebrated sanctuaries of Christendom, and may have so come to Tours also to venerate the renowned shrine of St. Martin. In the interesting evidence recorded by Gregory in the last quarter of the sixth century the following points are brought clearly to light: the existence of a narrative, or Acts of the martyrdom of the Apostle, ‘historia passionis eius,’ which declares that he suffered martyrdom in India, ‘in India passus declaratur’; the existence of the first tomb of the Apostle, ‘in loco regionis Indiae quo prius quievit’; a church of large dimensions covering the Indian tomb, ‘templum mirae magnitudinis’; a monastery adjacent, ‘monasterium habetur,’ the monks of which, no doubt, conducted the services at the Shrine; the further knowledge that, after the remains of the Apostle had remained buried in India for a long time, they were thence removed to Edessa, ‘corpus post multum tempus adsumptum in civitatem quam Syri Aedissam vocant’; and, finally, that they were buried anew at Edessa, ‘ibique sepultum.’ These several points, as the reader will remark, embrace all and even more than is necessary to establish the fact of the early knowledge of the existence of the Indian tomb of the Apostle.

The reader may be interested to know in what spirit Gregory undertook the task of writing the lives of the saints and martyrs of God, and of recording the miracles they worked. We extract for this purpose a short quotation from his introduction to his book In Gloria Confessorum (infra, pt.ii.p.748) : Nobis, ut saepe testati sumus, nec artis ingenium suppeditat nec sermonum facundia juvat, veniam temeritati libenter indulgeat (lector), quem non jactantia mundalis erigit ut scribat, sed depremit pudor ut sileat, amor timorque Christi impellit ut referat.

The reader may further desire to be acquainted with the pains he took to obtain direct information from eyewitnesses, and he is careful to indicate the source. Here is a list of some of those who brought him information from foreign lands which he incorporated in these writings; for fuller details the reader should turn to the editor’s general introduction to St. Gregory’s hagiological writings, pp.456-461, written by Krusch. The sixth century was by no means wanting in pilgrims whose piety urged them to travel to far and distant countries to visit the places where reposed the mortal remains of God’s faithful servants, and who came to Gaul as well, or started thence. Among such informants Gregory names the Deacon Agiulph, whom he sent to Rome in 590, who brought back thence relics of martyrs from the catacombs, and who gave him the particulars of the life of Pope John, of which he made use. Another deacon of Tours had visited Jerusalem, and had made the pilgrimage to the Holy Places, whose testimony Gregory quotes as that of ‘our deacon’ (Gl.Mart., c.i), the ‘man named John’ (C.18), and again the ‘deacon John’ (c.87.) There occurs mention of probably another pilgrim who had visited Jerusalem and had come to Tours (ibid., c.5). Theodore came to Gaul from India and met Gregory, and gave him the interesting historical details, part of which the reader has seen above. Gregory learns particulars concerning St. Julian, whose life and miracles he described ‘fidelium fratrum relatione’ (Mir.S.Jul., c.33). He is enabled to give the acts of the so-named ‘Seven Sleepers’ (martyrs who had suffered at Ephesus), from a Syriac MS, ‘passio eorum quam Siro quodam interpretante in Latinum transtulimus’; another codex gives the name, ‘interpretante Johanne Syro.’ To him, probably, Gregory also owes other Eastern details incorporated in his works.

We now pass on to give the reader the sequel of Gregory’s narrative concerning the Apostle Thomas. This describes a quite natural scene, not uncommon even in Europe in the early and later Middle Ages, when great fairs were held in certain places on the festival of some saint greatly venerated by the people: ‘In the above named town, in which, as we said, the sacred bones (artus) were buried, there is on the feast day a great gathering, lasting for thirty days, of all classes of people, coming from different countries, with votive offerings and for trade, buying and selling without paying any tax. During these days, which occur in the fifth month, great and unusual blessings are conferred on the people... While at other times you have to draw water from wells at a depth of over a hundred feet, now [at the season of the festival] if you dig to even a short depth you find an abundance of water, which is no doubt due to the favour of the blessed Apostle... After that, there is such a supernatural downpour of rain that the entrance of the church and the grounds around are swept so clean of all defilement and dust that you would think the ground had not been trodden.’ We shall examine the incidents of this account, and endeavour to bring out more prominently its special features.

First of all, mention is made of the town ‘in which the sacred bones were buried’; this clearly points to Edessa, and has been so taken by subsequent writers. But do the climatic and other details given above suit Edessa and its surroundings ? We have grave reasons for suggesting they do not; to us it appears there has occurred a confusion in reporting these details, and that there has been a blending of the accounts given by Theodore of two festivals, one kept at Edessa and the other in India. But these cannot be appropriately discussed until the date of the festival has been ascertained.

Gregory, after telling us that during the festival a fair is held, and a great gathering takes place lasting for thirty days, adds that these days occur ‘in the fifth month.’ As he does not offer any hint to make us suppose he is reckoning by a foreign calendar, we have no option but to conclude it must be the fifth month of the general calendar in use in Western Europe — that is, the Roman Calendar. The fifth month of this Calendar is the Quintilis(fifth), afterwards named Julius, or our July.38 The feast, which lasted a month, occupied the whole of that month. Gregory continues: ‘Decursis igitur festivitatis diebus,’ &c. (this covers the whole of July). ‘The days of the festival having passed,’ &c. Thereafter, or from this time forth,‘there is such a supernatural downpour of rain,’ &c. ‘Dehinc emissa divinitus pluvia,’ &c. This heavy rainfall witnessed by Theodore —for all these local details appear to have been communicated by him to the writer, it is difficult to see how else Gregory came to know them—occurred at the beginning of the following month, August, when the festival was over. Looking more carefully into the details, it is necessary to note that the drought is described as being extreme before, but at the festival water is easily found; there must then have been partial rainfalls during the month of July—the days when the feast was kept; while the heavy downfall, which sweeps the roads and paved enclosures so clean as to leave no speck of dust or dirt behind, came in the beginning of August. Can this description of abundance of water supply, and of partial and torrential rains in July and August fit the case of Edessa? We say decidedly no; for that precisely is the driest and most parched season of the year in Syria and Mesopotamia. The reader should bear in mind that the mesopotamia of the Romans embraced the city of Edessa, and it is to this we refer. Lately, while on a visit to Rome, we had a special opportunity to test the accuracy of our earlier information on this subject regarding the climate at Urfa—the name by which the old city of Edessa is designated by the Arabs. Having met with natives of the place, we had the opportunity of personally questioning them on the subject. We elicited that the season of the rains occurs in the months January to March inclusive; during the whole period of summer it does not rain, and the greatest heats prevail in July and August, when the land is quite parched. The Syrian fifth month corresponds to January, the year commencing in September; the depth of wells at Urfa averages twenty feet. All this clearly shows that the description of the festival of Saint Thomas given by the Bishop of Tours and held in July cannot be that celebrated at Edessa. Further, the July festival in honour of the Apostle can be no other than that shown in the Church service-books, fixed for the 3rd of that month, and celebrated alike at Edessa and in India. If, then, climatic circumstances force us to the conclusion that this festival cannot be taken for a celebration at Edessa, can it be applicable to the celebration in India at the Shrine?

Let us look at the details given of the fair held during the festival. The custom is noted that during this fair the fees or charges usually levied at fairs were not exacted. Now this is a peculiarly Indian custom, yet surviving in places where Western usages have not superseded those of native origin, and indicates that the narrative is in touch with India. At certain large and special fairs—often connected with religious festivals—in order also to attract people from surrounding districts, as also when the object is to establish an annual fair at some new centre, or to open a new market on a private property, the remission of customary rent charges, for a time, is rather the rule than the exception, whereas at the former, viz. the religious fairs, usually no charges are made.

What are the climatic influences prevailing at the Indian Shrine of the Apostle at Mylapore during the months of July and August? The east or Coromandel coast has the benefit of two monsoons or rainy seasons; one, the north-east monsoon, during October and November, the rainfall in the latter month being the heaviest in the year; the other, the south-west monsoon, which coming across the peninsula from the Malabar coast prevails from July to some time in September. The rains during this monsoon are not heavy. Yet there are occasionally heavy downpours, like that described in the text, occurring when accompanied by thunder storms, as the writer himself has witnessed, in August. One such heavy monsoon- fall in early August is all that is required to explain the altered scene described in the text. To those who witness a monsoon outburst for the first time, the scene is singularly impressive for the cooling change it effects in the atmosphere, the removal of all dirt and filth from the surface of the land, and the abundant supply of water it affords after a long and trying season of heat and drought. It is therefore not surprising to find one ignorant of the causes producing it, like Theodore, proclaim it a God-sent rain.

It is appropriate to note also that the earlier falls in July, when they do occur, mitigate the temporary water famine which otherwise would prevail; this evil was specially severe before the present reservoirs for the supply of Madras were formed; even this feature of the land has not been overlooked in the narrative.

But might not the rainfall of the south-west monsoon have been much heavier on the Madras coast centuries ago than now? There can be little doubt that such was the case. Anybody who has paid attention to natural causes which increase, diminish, or bar altogether the downfall of rain from moisture-laden clouds traversing any tract of country, must know that it is regulated by the existence of forest lands on that tract. If there be an abundant or a sufficient supply of forests the rainfall will be abundant and ample from such passing clouds, but if the land be deforested by the improvident hand of man, the tract will receive next to no rain, except under peculiar atmospheric circumstances, combined with the amount of moisture prevailing in the air. For the present purpose it is sufficient to inform the reader that the whole of the hinterland of Madras has been entirely deforested almost as far back as the Nilgherries. The present data of rainfall, therefore, can afford no criterion of what it must have been during the prevalence of the south-west monsoon in ages back, before the denudation of the land had taken place. The oft-recurring kad or kadu (forest or jungle) in the names of villages and places in the hinterland of the peninsula, shows how different was the state of the land formerly. Ptolemy, in mentioning the early capital of the Sora, now styled the Chola, country, styles it regia Arkati, which, by common accord, is taken to designate Arkot. The Tamil form is Âr-kâd, which means ‘the six forests’; this town lies due west of Madras, and may be taken as a sample of other names that could be produced. These remarks are also borne out by the fact that the south-west monsoon clouds may now be seen fleeting over Madras and denying the parched land the benefit of the moisture held in suspense, which they subsequently discharge in the Bay of Bengal under more favourable atmospheric conditions, as captains of steamships are often known to remark.

These observations may be thought sufficient to justify our view that St. Gregory wrongly attributed the scene of the festival described as occurring at Edessa, whereas it could only fit the surroundings of the Indian Shrine. Even the error in giving the depth of the wells in that neighbourhood, while not at all applicable to Edessa, indicates that the narrator was a travelled Eastern who had crossed the Syrian desert, and having but a slight acquaintance of India, supplemented his remarks as to the extent of drought with home ideas.

One further remark should be added on the details of this pregnant narrative. While the monastery mentioned attached to the Shrine and Church suggests Mesopotamian Ascetics and Monks and consequently a Syrian Liturgy, Ritual, and Calendar—for the clergy of every Rite invariably carry these with them wherever they go; the record that even in India the feast of the 3rd of July was kept, shows that there, in accordance with their Calendar, the clergy kept the feast of the Translation of the Apostle’s Relics to Edessa. All this admirably fits in with, and confirms the data previously given from the Hieronymian Calendar. As to whether the taint of Nestorian error had already sullied the purity of primitive faith, the reader is referred to Chapter V., p.199, note.39

II.—King Alfred's Embassy to the Shrine,
a.d. 883

The record of the next visit to the Apostle’s tomb has come down to us with something like an interval of three hundred years. As the former went from the extreme East, so this goes from the extreme West. A venerable authority, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, relating the events of the early history of England, tells us that the greatest of her Anglo-Saxon kings who ruled over Southern England also venerated the memory of the Apostle of India and showed himself grateful for benefits received by his intercession. While King Alfred was defending the city of London, besieged by the heathen Danes, he made a vow; but the date when this occurred is not known.40 It was in fulfilment of this vow that King Alfred sent an Embassy with gifts to Rome, and to India to the Shrine of the Apostle: ‘The year 883[884]. In this year the army went up the Scheldt to condé, and they sat down one year. And Marinus, the Pope, then sent lignum Domini [a relic of the Cross] to King Alfred. And in the same year Sighelm and Aethâlstan conveyed to Rome the alms which the king had vowed [to send] thither, and also to India to Saint Thomas and Saint Bartholomew, when they sat down against the army at London; and there, God be thanked, their prayer was very successful, after that vow.’41

It will be as well to see what some of the best modern writers of English history have to say in regard to this mission sent to India, whether they consider it an ascertained fact in history, or treat it as legendary. Dr. Lingard, the Catholic historian, an esteemed authority (Hist. of Engl., vol. i. chap. iv., 6th edit., London, 1854, p. 112), says of the king: ‘Often he sent considerable presents to Rome; sometimes to the nations in the Mediterranean and to Jerusalem; on one occasion to the Indian Christians at Meliapour. Swithelm, the bearer of the royal alms, brought back to the king several Oriental pearls and aromatic liquors.’ Professor E.A. Freeman, a distinguished Protestant historian, has the following (Old Engl. Hist., London, I869, p.131): ‘King Alfred was very attentive to religious matters, and gave great alms to the poor, and gifts to the churches.... He also sent several embassies to Rome.... He also sent an embassy to Jerusalem, and had letters from Abel the Patriarch there. And what seems stranger than all, he sent an embassy all the way to India with alms for the Christians there, called the Christians of Saint Thomas and Saint Bartholomew.’ The writer of the article ‘St. Thomas’ (Dict. of Christ. Antiq.) has the following entry: ‘In the 9th century Sighelm and Aethalstan were sent by King Alfred with alms to Rome and thence to India to St. Thomas and St. Bartholomew.’

The sending of this embassy with gifts is supported by the early Chroniclers whose works have come down to us. The first of these is Florence of Worcester, who died 1117. In his Chronicle under the year 883 he says: ‘Asser, Bishop of Sherborne, died42 and was succeeded by Swithelm, who carried King Alfred’s alms to St. Thomas in India and returned in safety.’43 William of Malmesbury in an original work writes: [Alfred] ‘very attentive on bestowing alms, he confirmed the privileges granted to the churches which his father had sanctioned. Beyond the sea, to Rome and to Saint Thomas in India he sent many gifts. The legate employed for this purpose was Sigelinus the bishop of Sherborne, who with great success arrived in India, at which every one at this age wonders. Returning thence he brought back exotic gems and aromatic liquors which the land there produces; besides also a present, excelling all else in value, a portion of the Lord’s rood sent to the King by Pope Martin.’44 The Pope’s name is undoubtedly a mistake, whether original or introduced by some careless amanuensis; no Martin was Pope at the time, but Marinus, the name correctly given in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, was then Pope;45 he held the see of Peter from 882 to some date in 884. There occurs another substantial difference between what William says regarding the relic of the Cross sent by the Pope and the statement of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The latter says the relic was sent the same year and seemingly before Sighelm or Sigelinus conveyed the king’s alms to Rome, whereas William makes Sigelinus, on his return from India, the bearer of the relic to the king. The Saxon Chronicle should undoubtedly carry the greater weight; it is, besides, a contemporary document.

III. — Visited by Marco Polo, a.d. 1293

The honour of the third visit to the tomb, memory of which has come down to us, is somewhat contested between Marco Polo, the great Venetian traveller, and Friar John of Monte Corvino, both Italians. The visit of Polo on his return from China described in his narrative falls in 1293,46 and that of the future Archbishop of Pekin (Cambalec) probably between 1292-1293; in other words, the travellers crossed each other’s path somewhere on the route between India and China. But as there is good reason to hold, as will presently be seen, that the Venetian had paid India an earlier visit, precedence is given to him.

Colonel Yule’s monumental edition of Marco Polo’s Book of Travels will supply all we want, and we shall also find Yule a most useful guide in dealing subsequently with the recorded visits of other travellers to the Shrine.

‘The Body of Messer Saint Thomas the Apostle,’ he says (vol. ii. chap. xviii. p. 338), ‘lies in this province of Maabar at a certain little town having no great population; ’tis a place where few traders go, because there is very little merchandise to be got there, and it is a place not very accessible. Both Christians and Saracens, however, greatly frequent it in pilgrimage. For the Saracens also do hold the Saint in great reverence, and say that he was one of their own Saracens and a great prophet, giving him the title of Avarian, which is as much to say "Holy Man." The Christians who go thither in pilgrimage take of the earth from the place where the Saint was killed, and give a portion thereof to any one who is sick of a quartan or a tertian fever; and by the power of God and of Saint Thomas the sick man is incontinently cured. The earth I should tell you is red. A very fine miracle occurred there in the year of Christ, 1288, as I will now relate.’ His earlier visit to India, of which mention is made above, probably occurred about that year.47 ‘The Christians,’ he resumes a little further on, ‘who have charge of the Church have a great number of the Indian nut trees whereby they get their living; and they pay to one of those brother Kings six groats for each tree every month.’48

In this narrative though the Shrine is located, the church kept by the Christians mentioned, the pilgrimage of Christians and Saracens not overlooked, and the province called by its Mahomedan appellation, the name of the ‘little town,’ however, is omitted. Nevertheless no reasonable person will refuse credence to the statement that the little town where the body lay was Mylapore, subsequently named San Thomé by the Portuguese, now a suburb, lying to the south, of the city of Madras. Similarly in the preceding narrative of Theodore, which has come down to us through St. Gregory of Tours, mention is made of a place, and India is indicated, ‘in loco regionis Indiae quo prius quievit.’ A church enclosing the Shrine, and pilgrims flocking to it are similarly mentioned. Theodore also takes note of a monastery then existing; of this Marco Polo says nothing, so it may then have been destroyed to be rebuilt at a later age. Polo speaks of the body being there; St. Gregory with greater accuracy had recorded ‘in that part of India where it first rested,’ and ‘after a long interval of time was removed to the city of Edessa.’ The omission of any mention of the province is easily accounted for in the story narrated by a pilgrim traveller, who was not in the habit of taking geographical notes, but such an omission would not occur in the Venetian’s account. If, then, the statement of Marco Polo carries conviction with it, by what criterion of historical criticism can the intelligent reader refuse it to the narrative of the pilgrim Theodore, who, seven hundred years earlier, had visited the tomb of the Apostle in India, and described it in similar terms?

As this chapter deals with the Shrine and its surroundings, we reserve for treatment elsewhere what Polo reports of indigenous traditions regarding the Saint’s martyrdom.

IV. — Visited by Friar John of Monte Corvino,
a.d. 1292 - 1293

John of Monte Corvino, a Franciscan Friar, is justly called the founder of the First Catholic Mission in China. He had been engaged for many years in mission work prior to being sent out to China.49 From mention made of his age in the first of his three letters published by Colonel Yule (Cathay and the Way Thither, Hakluyt Society, London, 1866, vol. i.), it is inferred he was born c. 1247, but it is not known in what year he entered on his missionary labours. The earliest mention of him dates from the year 1272, when he was sent by the Emperor Michael Palaeologus on a mission to Pope Gregory X., who reigned 1271-1276. John soon returned to the East with several companions, and remained there till 1289. Once more he returned to the Papal court with glad tidings of the desire of the peoples in Armenia and Northern Persia to receive the faith, of extensive conversions, and of the favourable disposition of Arghun,50 the reigning Khan of the House of Hulagu (reigned 1284-1291). The Pope rejoiced at the good news, and sent him back; this was his fourth trip, at the head of a second band of helpers. Gregory X. at the same time entrusted him with letters to Prince Arghun, the King and Queen of Lesser Armenia, and, among others, also to the great Khan Kublai, reigning in China. ‘John remained at Tabriz,’ says Yule, ibid., p. 166, ‘till 1291, and then proceeded to the Far East in order to fulfil his mission to Kublai, travelling by the way of India. It is not likely that he reached Cambalec in the lifetime of the old Khan, who died in the beginning of 1294, for voyages were slow, and he stayed long at St. Thomas and other places on the coast of Malabar or Coromandel.’ He was created Archbishop of Cambalec in 1307 with the full powers of a Patriarch, and seven suffragan sees were created to be placed under him, for which seven friars of his Order were sent out consecrated bishops from Rome. Of this large body of bishops only three reached their destination, three others succumbed on their journey to the effects of the Indian climate, while the seventh either did not start or returned after going a part of the way, and sixteen years later was the occupant of a see in Corsica, but died Bishop of Trieste.

‘1, John of Monte Corvino (he writes in his first letter, ibid., p. 197), from the city of Cambalec in the Kingdom of Cathay, in the year of the Lord 1305, and on the 8th day of January, of the Order of Minor Friars, departed from Tauris, a city of the Persians, in the year of the Lord 1291, and proceeded to India. And I remained in the country of India, wherein stands the Church of St. Thomas the Apostle, for thirteen months, and in that region baptised in different places about one hundred persons. The companion of my journey was Friar Nicholas of Pistoia, of the Order of Preachers, who died there, and was buried in the church aforesaid.’

In his second letter, also ‘dated from Cambalec a city of Cathay,’ and in the ‘year 1306, on Quinquagesima Sunday in the month of February,’ he gives the heads of his first letter, which show that it has come down to us entire. The second, however, did not fare as well; it got separated into two sections; of these the latter was lost, but the substance incorporated by wadding in his Annales Minorum, tom. vi. pp. 71-72, has been preserved. Yule shows that the two sections form one complete letter. The date given above, 1306, is borne by the once lost section; the other bears no date, but the two fit in aptly as to time. The letter contains only a short paragraph referring to India in the first section, but not bearing on our subject; the second portion will be quoted in Chapter V. The third letter, which is actually the first in date and written from India, it is unnecessary to quote.51 Archbishop John, aged upwards of eighty years, died at Cambalec in 1328.52

V. — Mentioned by Blessed Oderic,
a.d. 1324 - 1325

Blessed Oderic of Pordenone in the district of Friuli, Italy, was born 1286 (see Yule’s Cathay, vol. i. pp. 4 and 6); at an early age he took the vows of a Franciscan, and acquired a reputation for holiness of life. From a statement he makes at the beginning of his book it is inferred that he left his convent for foreign missions in the year 1315-1316, being then thirty years of age. After spending some years as a missionary in Armenia and Persia, he landed at Tana,53 to recover the bones of the four brethren of his Order who had suffered martyrdom there in the spring of 1321.54 This removal which, with even the heavy monsoon rains in India, would have to be placed at least two years after the burial, could only have been effected c. 1323. Thence he proceeded to Quilon, which he calls palumbum. There he took passage on board a ship—a junk—to a ‘certain city called Zayton, in which our Friars have two houses, in order there to deposit these sacred relics. On board that ship there were quite 700 souls, what with sailors and merchants.’ This shows he took passage on board a Chinese junk he found at Quilon homeward-bound. After discussing Malabar, which he calls ‘ Minibar’ : ‘From this realm,’ he continues, p.80, ‘’tis a journey of ten days to another realm which is called Mobar, and this is very great, and hath in it many cities and towns. And in this realm is laid the body of the Blessed Thomas the Apostle. His church is filled with idols, and beside it are some fifteen houses of the Nestorians; that is to say, Christians, but vile and pestilent heretics.’55

VI. — Visited by Bishop John de Marignolli,
a.d. 1349

The history of Bishop John’s narrative is quite romantic. ‘ The notices of Eastern travel,’ says Yule ( Cathay, vol. ii. p. 311), ‘are found like unexpected fossils in a mud-bank imbedded in a Chronicle of Bohemia,’ which the bishop—then attached to the court of the Emperor Charles IV. at Prague, whom he had met in Italy when Charles went to be crowned by the Pope in 1354, and whom he accompanied to Germany—wrote at the request of the said Emperor. ‘Charles,’ the English editor remarks, ‘would have shown a great deal more sense if he had directed his chaplain to write a detailed narrative of his own Eastern experiences.’ The task imposed on the bishop appears to have been most uncongenial to him, so to relieve himself somewhat of its tediousness, he interpolates his work by inserting in odd places scraps of his travels.

Some slight details regarding John of Florence are found in Wadding’s Annales Minorum, and but for the above discovery the identity of the two Johns would have remained undetected. John was a native of Florence, and belonged to the noble family of the Marignolli of San Lorenzo, who derived their name from a village named Marignolle in the valley of the Arno. In 1338, after the death of Archbishop John of Cambalec, there arrived at avignon an embassy from the great Khan of Cathay, bringing a letter from the Khan himself and another from the Christian princes at his court to the Pope. The embassy was graciously received by Pope Benedict XII., who reigned 1334-1342; replies to the letters were duly sent by the Khan’s messengers, and the Pope expressed his intention of speedily sending envoys to the Court. On 31st October 1338 he nominated the four following envoys: Nicholas Boneti, Nicholas of Molano, John of Florence, and Gregory of Hungary. The first, Yule says, either never started or returned after going part of the way, and is found in 1347 as bishop of Malta. The party left Avignon in December 1338, and journeying across Asia did not probably arrive at pekin much before the middle of 1342. After a stay of three or four years at the capital, Marignolli proceeded to the houses of his order at Zayton, and thence sailed for India on the 26th of December (probably) 1347. He mentions his arrival at Columbum (Quilon) just before the following Easter, where he tarried with the Christians for upwards of a year; during the monsoon of 1349 he set sail to visit the Shrine of the Apostle.

He says of the Shrine (p.374): ‘The third province of India is called Maabar, and the Church of St. Thomas, which he built with his own hands, is there, besides another which he built by the agency of workmen.’ Regarding a local tradition of the Apostle’s presence on the island of Ceylon, he reports the Saint ordering the trunk of a tree that had been cut down on the island: ‘Go and tarry for us at the haven of the city of Mirapolis’; which, as Yule observes, is a Graecized form of the name of mylapore. The local traditions of the Apostle’s martyrdom and others, which he relates, will be noticed in Chapter IV.

VII.— Visited by Nicolò de’ Conti ,

Nicolò de’ Conti left Italy while young, traded at Damascus for many years as a merchant, thence proceeded further east through Persia, sailing by the coast of Malabar onwards; he visited some parts of the interior of Hindustan, Burmah, and Bengal; also the islands of Ceylon, Sumatra, and Java; and also went to Southern China. On his way homeward he sailed up the Red Sea, crossed the desert to Cairo, and eventually returned to Venice after an absence of twenty-five years. Of his visit to Mylapore, after rounding the peninsula, he says: ‘Proceeding onwards the said Nicolò arrived at a maritime city, which is named Malepur [should be Malpuria], situated in the second gulf beyond the Indus (the Bay of Bengal). Here the body of Saint Thomas lies honourably buried in a large and beautiful church; it is worshipped [venerated] by heretics, who are called Nestorians, and inhabit this city to the number of a thousand. These Nestorians are scattered over all India, as the Jews among us.’56

On his return to Italy, Conti sought absolution from Pope Eugenius IV., then at Florence, for having denied his faith during his travels in the East. The Pope imposed on him as penance to dictate an account of his travels. The Pope’s secretary, Poggio, took down the narrative in Latin, but this remained unpublished at the time, while an Italian translation was put in circulation. M. Henri Cordier informed us that the interview between Pope Eugenius and Conti at Florence took place in the year 1438, which was the only time the Pope was there. It is from this date that Conti’s return to Italy can be fixed. Supposing Conti had returned two or three years earlier, we come to 1435, and his evidence bearing on the Shrine at Mylapore might be of a date even ten years earlier; thus we come to c. 1425: it will not be unsafe to fix the date somewhere between 1425-1430.

VIII. —What Amr', son of Matthew, says,
a.d. 1340

Amr’, son of Matthew, a Nestorian writer, who flourished about 1340 (Assemani, Bibl. Oriental., tom. iii. p.580), hands down the Nestorian tradition (ibid., tom. iv. p.34) regarding Saint Thomas in India: ‘His tomb stands on the peninsula Meilan in India, to the right of the altar in the monastery bearing his name.’ The topographical details would denote information brought back by a pilgrim or merchant who had seen the place. Correctly enough, mention is not made of the body, but only of the tomb; the church is implied while the altar and monastery are mentioned; the position is fixed on the seaboard; and a corrupt form of the name of Mylapore is given.

IX.— What the Nestorian Bishops say,


The letter written in 1504 from the Malabar coast to the Catholicus of the East, the head of the Nestorian Church, by the four Nestorian bishops, who had recently arrived there, brings the record of the Indian Shrine of the Apostle down to the arrival of the Portuguese in India. After describing the religious activity awakened by their coming, they say (Assemani, Bibl. Oriental., tom. iii.p.594 f.) : ‘ The houses as well of Saint Thomas the Apostle have commenced to be occupied by some Christians who are looking after the repairs; they are situated at a distance from our aforesaid Christians (of Malabar) of about twenty-five days,57 and stand in a city on the sea named Meliapor, in the province of Silan, which is one of the provinces of India.’ It should cause no surprise to find the new arrivals mixing up Ceylon and India, and locating Mylapore in the former. The Shrine would seem to have fallen sadly into neglect during the lapse of the preceding half century between the visit of Nicolò de’ Conti and this account sent to Bagdad. An express mention of the tomb of the Apostle on the site of the ‘houses of Saint Thomas’ was not necessary, as its existence was too well known to require any; and, for all we know, the expression may be meant to cover all the buildings there—so the bishops confine themselves to writing of their restoration, which would ensure the return of a resident native colony of caretakers.

This letter mentions also the arrival of the Portuguese on the coast; we reproduce the passage: ‘Our Fathers should also know that powerful ships have been sent out from the West by our brethren the Franks to these Indian shores. The voyage occupies a whole year; sailing first due south they pass the land of Khus, that is Aethiopia; thence they come to these lands of India; and after purchasing pepper and other merchandise they return home. By this route, now opened and thoroughly explored, the above King, whom may God preserve, sent six other enormous ships, which arrived after a six months’ sail at the city of Calicut. They are most expert sailors.’

Since the above was written, an interesting paper on ‘ The Connection of St. Thomas with India,’ by W.R. Philipps, has appeared in the Indian Antiquary, vol. xxxii., 1903. We feel bound to refer to it here because of vague hints thrown out and ‘ speculation’ indulged in that ‘Carmana,’ our modern Karmãn in Southern Persia, might represent Calamina, where some writers have said the Apostle Thomas suffered martyrdom and was buried. The writer holds that, ‘ from a geographical, an ethnical, and indeed, as it seems to me, from every point of view’ (p.149), the site of the Apostle’s tomb ought to be looked for in that quarter rather than in Southern India.

The question of ‘Calamina’ will be treated by us at the close of the following chapter, and what strictly appertains to it need not be discussed here; but now we need only say Calamina does not exist, and never, had a geographical existence. The question, however, regarding the Indian tomb of the Apostle is quite a different subject. It is, of course, and it ought to be, quite immaterial to the scholar where the tomb is located. He will, however, feel bound to follow the evidence given by history for its identification. If India is the country, as we have found to be the case on the evidence adduced, where we should look for it, what place is there in India, other than Mylapore, which has ever set forth a claim to it ? Decidedly none: not only in no other part of India, nor elsewhere, has such a claim been raised—that of Edessa was for a second tomb where the sacred remains rested after removal from India, as has been seen and will again be discussed in the next chapter. Why then should there be any objection to its being placed in Southern India, and topographically at Mylapore? The writer admits indeed ‘ there is nothing inherently improbable in such a supposition.’ As to ‘ Carmana’ or Carmania of old, now Karmãn, the Nestorians, who had churches, priests, and Christians in that part of Persia down to past the middle of the seventh century, must certainly have known if at any time it held the Apostle’s tomb. A claim so much nearer home would not have been overlooked by them; they certainly would not have come to India to search for it. We give below two quotations that show how groundless is the suggestion now put forward in the paper under discussion. Assemani (Bibl. Oriental., tom. iii.) publishes several letters of the Nestorian patriarch, Jesuab, a.d. 650-660; the extracts are taken from letter No.14 (p.130), addressed to Simeon, bishop of Revardshir, the Metropolitan of Persia at the time; the first refers to the Christians at Merv, the second to those at Carmania:—

Ubinam ingens Maruanitarum (civitatis Maru [Merv]) populus qui quum neque gladium neque ignem aut tormenta vidissent, solo medietatis bonorum suorum amore capti, velut amentes, e vestigio in barathrum perfidiae, hoc est, in aeternam perniciem ruerunt. The writer goes on to say all denied the faith, except two priests, who, as he remarks-instar perustarum titionum ex flamma impietatis evadentibus, &c.

Ubinam etiam sunt Caramaniae totiusque Persidis sanctuaria? quae non per adventum satanae, aut jussu regum terrae, aut mandatis praesidis provinciarum, excisa corruerunt, sed exigui unius vilissimi daemonis flatu, &c.

There were, then, Nestorians in the town and province of Karmãn; if they never left any intimation to posterity that the Apostle’s tomb was in their midst, it is unlikely any later suggestion will induce a scholar to place it there.

We owe it in fairness to the writer of the paper to add that having received from us a copy of the above passages, he reproduced them by way of rectification in a note published in the Indian Antiquary, 1904, p. 31, under the heading Miscellanea. This phase of the question may now be considered closed.




1. The Apostle's Relics at Edessa and Subsequent

The Syriac text of the Acts of Judas Thomas, edited by Wright (ut supr.), as also P. Bedjan’s edition of the same in Acta Martyrum et Sanctorum, Paris, Vol.iii., state that the Bones of the Apostle were removed from India during the lifetime of the king under whom Thomas suffered martyrdom: the quotation is from Wright’s translation, ‘for one of the brethren had taken them away secretly and conveyed them to the West.’ The Greek version recites: eiz tvn adelfvn kleyaz autòn eiz Mesopotamian aphgagen— for one of the brethren having stolen him [the Apostle’s remains] had removed him to Mesopotamia. The Latin, De Miraculis, says: Misdeus, reserato sepulchro, ossa invenire non potuit, quoniam reliquias sancti apostoli quidam de fratribus rapuerunt, et in urbe Edissa a nostris sepultus est. St. Gregory of Tours (l.c.) says: Thomas apostolus secundum historiam passionis ejus in Indiam passus declaratur. Cujus beatum corpus post multum tempus adsumptum in civitatem, quam Syri Aedissam vocant, translatum est ibique sepultum. The older Latin, Passio, recites: Syri ab Alexandro imperatore romano veniente victore de Persidis praelio, Xerse rege devicto, impetrarunt hoc ut mitteret ad regulos Indorum ut redderent defunctum civibus; sicque factum ut translatum esset de India corpus apostoli et positum in civitate Edissa in locello argenteo quod pendet ex catenis argenteis. The date of the war waged against the Persians by the Emperor Alexander brings us to a.d. 233 (Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap.viii.), and the mention of the silver casket holding the Relics, to the year 442( Chronicon Edessen., Guidi’s ed., infr., p.7).

St. Ephraem gave us no hint when the Bones of the Apostle were removed to Edessa by the merchant, whose name also he omitted to mention. There are thus two traditions—one that the Relics or Bones (not the whole and entire body as some have supposed, importing European ideas into Eastern questions, and these have based thereon the inference that the Apostle’s body could not have been in India if it were buried at Edessa) were removed from India in the Apostolic age. The other that the removal took place at a much later date. The Alexandrian date—towards the middle of the third century—on general grounds does appear the more probable of the two, not because of the supposed interposition of the emperor, but because it fits in better with surrounding data, and with the reopening of the trade route to India viâ the Euphrates; by the successful termination of the war, the way would be paved for such removal.

The Relics of the Apostle, while at Edessa, underwent a local translation from one church to another. In the short life of St. Ephraem, from which Assemani has published extracts (Bibl. Oriental., i.p.49), the following event is narrated; ‘ About this time a paralytic lay at the door of the church of Saint Thomas in the same city [Edessa]: on seeing the Saint, according to his custom, he begged alms. Ephraem replied, gold and silver I have not, but of what I have I will give to thee. Wilt thou be healed ? Certainly ! answered the paralytic. If thou canst do aught, for the Lord’s sake help me. Ephraem then taking him by the hand said, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, arise. Immediately the man suffering from paralysis was healed, and he who was lame stood upright on his feet,’&c. The reader will remark the strong resemblance this narrative bears to that mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (chap. iii. 6-8) of the cure of the lame man by the Apostles Peter and John. We are not here vouching for the authenticity of the cure and its details; it is unnecessary for our present purpose; but the narrative discloses a local circumstance we feel bound to accept— that during the life of Ephraem there existed at Edessa a church named after the Apostle, holding the Relics of which Ephraem speaks in the hymns quoted in a preceding chapter.

Some years later another and a larger church in the same city was completed in honour of the Apostle, described as the ‘Great Church,’ or the ‘Basilica’; and to this the Relics were removed with great pomp and ceremony. The Edessan Chronicle, which is an excerpt from the city archives made by an anonymous (published first by Assemani), No. xxxviii., recites58: Anno 705, mense ab (augusto), die 22 advexerunt arcam Mar Thomae apostoli, in templum magnum eidem dicatum, diebus Mar Cyri episcopi. ‘In the Seleucian year 705= a.d. 394, on the 22nd of August, when Cyrus was bishop, the casket [containing the Relics] of the Apostle Thomas was removed to the great church erected in his honour.’ A further entry, No. ixi., recites: Anno 753 Anatolius Stratelates (militiae praefectus) fecit argenteam capsam in honorem ossium sancti Thomae apostoli. ‘In the year 442-443 Anatolius the General (in command of the troops) made an offering of a silver casket to hold the Bones of the Apostle Saint Thomas.’ This was suspended, as we have seen, by silver chains from the roof.

Some writers have confused the second removal mentioned here with the first arrival of the Relics at Edessa. Barhebraeus (Chronicon Ecclesiast., ed. of Abbeloos, and Lamy, tom.i., col. 66) says: ‘Eulogius was made Bishop of Edessa, and he built the Church of Mar Daniel, which is also styled of Mar Domitius. During his episcopate the casket of Mar Thomas the Apostle was brought from India to Edessa, and was placed in the Church of Mar Thomas.’ The learned writer is here mistaken. The Edessan Chronicle, No. xxxiv., has the following entry, ‘Per idem tempus’ [that is, A. seleuc. 689= a.d. 378-379], ‘Mar Eulogius became bishop,’ &c.; he died A. Seleuc. 698= a.d.387-388, as is stated in No.xxxvii. If Barhebraeus’ statement were true, the Relics would have entered Edessa several years after the death of St. Ephraem; this of course cannot be admitted.

Ephraem, who was born at Nisibis and had lived there up to the year 363, quitted it before the entry of the Persians, when that city, after Julian’s defeat and death, was by Jovian, under the conditions of peace forced upon him by Sapor, king of Persia, surrendered to the Persians, and removed to Edessa. He lived there until his death, which occurred on the 9th of June 373 (see Chronicon Edessen.,; also Lamy, St. Ephr., Hymni et Serm., tom .iv.,praef., p.xxviii., and tom.ii.pp.89-97). It was during this period of ten years that he wrote his hymns on Saint Thomas. It becomes thus perfectly clear that the Relics had been at Edessa long before the time assigned by Barhebraeus for their arrival from India. From the manner in which Ephraem speaks of their presence among the citizens and of the influence they exercised on them, the reader can realise for himself that a sufficiently lengthy period must have elapsed since their first arrival at Edessa.

The writer of the article ‘Saint Thomas’ in the Dictionary of Christian Antiquity makes the error of confusing the older with the new church, and supposes that the cure of the leper mentioned above occurred at the door of the great church. This second church was completed after Ephraem’s death, and the Relics removed thereto in the year 394, as shown above.

Both the Church historians, Socrates and Sozomen, record the erection of the new church, but not in the sense of the writer of the above article, who states that ‘St. Thomas was interred at Edessa, [as] may be inferred from Socrates and Sozomen.’ They say nothing to imply a burial of the Apostle in the church. After having detailed in previous chapters the persecution waged by the Emperor Valens against the Catholics, they pass to his attempt to impose the Arian belief on the city of Edessa.59 Socrates (Hist. Eccl., lib. iv. cap.xviii.; Migne, P.Gr.-L., tom. lxvii.) says: ‘I think it unworthy to pass over in silence what had been done in Edessa of Mesopotamia. In that city there is a renowned and splendid basilica ( marturion ) dedicated to Thomas the Apostle, &c., which the emperor [Valens] was desirous to see,’ &c.60 And Sozomen (Hist. Eccl., lib. vi. cap. xviii.; Migne,P. Gr.-L., tom. lxvii.): ‘Having heard that in the city of Edessa there was a noble church (enkthrion), dedicated to Thomas the Apostle, he went there to see it. He [Valens] found the people of the Catholic church holding their assemblies in a field near the city—for there also the Catholic churches were taken from them. He violently reproached the prefect, and even struck him on the cheek,’ &c. Neither passage, as may be seen, can be construed to support the theory put forth that the Apostle had been buried in that church, implying a burial after death. Rufinus (born about 345, died 410), who visited the city of Edessa some time afterwards, says much the same as what the two above quotations contain (Hist. Eccl., lib. ii. cap. v., Migne, P.L., tom.xxi.col.513): Edessa namque Mesopotamiae urbs fidelium populorum est, Thomae Apostoli Reliquiis decorata. Ubi cum per se imperator populos vidisset ecclesiis ejectos in campo habere conventiculum, tanta, dicitur, iracundia accensus est, &c. Here we find mention made of the Relics, not of a burial; and indeed it would have been surprising had Rufinus expressed himself differently, since he had ample opportunity to acquaint himself personally with the local traditions of Edessa and the history of the Relics, when he visited the city.61

At this church great annual festivals used to be held. A sermon preached at one of these celebrations has come down to us. This, from internal evidence, Tillemont holds (Mémoir. Hist. Eccl., vol. i.p.358) to have been delivered in the year 402. The homily had been wrongly attributed to St. John Chrysostom.62 What is peculiar about it is, that the homily should have been cited under the name of this Doctor by the Lateran Council held by pope Martin I., a.d. 649, and by the Sixth Ecumenical Council held at Constantinople, a.d. 680. Tillemont (ibid., vol.xi.p.392) suggests three grounds for rejecting it as not the composition of the doctor of the Church—difference of style, thoughts expressed therein not held worthy of him—and since the context shows the sermon to have been delivered at Edessa and before the Shrine of the Apostle in the year aforesaid, there is no reason to suppose that he (Chrysostom) had then visited the city. He concludes with the remark that even in the lifetime of this great preacher homilies came to be attributed to him not the product of his genius. The sermon is based on the text from St. John xx.28, containing Thomas’s avowal of Christ’s divinity, ‘My Lord and my God!’ and was preached against the Arian denial. The opening section contains language grossly exaggerated, but the latter portion is a fine piece of eloquence, not unlike what may be found in some of Chrysostom’s homilies.

Tillemont is, however, wrong in an inference he bases on the composition, that ‘ the homily clearly states that the body of the Apostle was all entire in one place, and that, where the preacher delivered the homily’ (vol.i.pp.358-359). We reproduce the passage which occurs at the opening of the address: ‘Shall I speak of Thomas as a man? But his tomb (tafoz)proclaims his death? But then I shall be reproached by the very events (we witness). He is dead and he is immortal; he as a man died, but he dazzled the world as an angel. He suffered martyrdom (passionem excepit), and he struggles in his sufferings. He lies here below and is in glory above. Nothing can conceal him; he has spread his light over the whole world. He has been buried, but he shines forth everywhere as the sun. The relics of the just have gone round the world, &c. Every corner of the earth holds a part of Thomas; he has filled every place, and in each place he subsists entire, &c. The barbarians honour Thomas, all people celebrate his feast this day, and make an offering of his words as a gift to the Lord, "My Lord and my God!" ’ The presence of the Apostle spoken of is his spiritual and moral presence and influence. The passage, ‘he lies here below,’ is easily understood of the body being on earth while the spirit soars aloft; but in this case it may have also a reference to the presence of his Relics in the church. But it is not justifiable to take this passage in an isolated form and apart from the historical connections of these Relics, known to the people present at the sermon.


Frequent mention of the continued presence of the Relics at Edessa could be adduced from different writers down to the period of the Crusades. The last witness who makes mention of them, Archbishop William of Tyre, will be found quoted later. But, while it will not be necessary to extend this investigation further, we will not deprive the reader of the beautiful narrative left us by a lady pilgrim who visited the Shrine early in the last quarter of the fourth century. For, apart from the fact of her narrative confirming the general tradition, she gives us a glimpse of what took place at the Shrine within a few years of the death of St. Ephraem. We are indebted to Professor Gamurrini for having brought to light this early ‘Peregrinatio ad Loca Sancta’ from the one MS known to exist, which fortunately fell into his hands: for details of text, discovery, and history of the same, the reader should consult his two papers in the Roman publication, Studi e Documenti di Storia, 1884-1885-the vol.ix. of 1888 contains the first edition of the ‘Peregrinatio’; see also Bibl. dell’ Academia Storico-Giuridica, Roma, vol. iv., 1887, pp.xxvii.ff. The book was published apart with notes, S.Silviae Aquitanae Peregrinatio ad Loca Sancta, altera editio, Romae, typis Vaticanis, 1888,in 4to; we quote from the latter edition, pp.33-34:—

‘Pervenimus in nomine Christi Dei nostri Edessam: ubi cum pervenissemus, statim perreximus ad ecclesiam et ad martyrium sancti Thomae. Itaque ergo juxta consuetudinem factis orationibus, et caetera quae consuetudo erat fieri in locis sanctis: nec non etiam et aliquanta ipsius sancti Thomae ibi legimus.

‘Ecclesia autem ibi, quae est ingens et valde pulchra et nova dispositione, et vere digna est esse domus Dei; et quoniam multa erant, quae ibi desiderabam videre, necesse me fuit ibi stativa triduana facere. Ac sic ergo vidi in eãdem civitate martyria plurima; nec non et sanctos monachos commanentes, alios per martyria, alios longius de civitate in secretioribus locis habentes monasteria. Et quoniam sanctus episcopus ipsius civitatis, vir vere religiosus et monachus et confessor, suscipiens me libenter ait mihi, quoniam video te, filia, gratia religionis tam magnum laborem tibi imposuisse, ut de extremis porro terris venires ad haec loca: itaque ergo, si libenter habes, quaecumque loca sunt hic grata ad videndum christianis, ostendimus tibi. Tunc ergo gratias agens Deo primum, et sic ipsum rogavi plurimum, ut dignaretur facere quod dicebat. Itaque ergo duxit me primum ad palatium aggari regis,’ &c.

We append a translation:—

‘In the name of Christ our God we arrived safely at Edessa. On arriving there we visited without delay the church and the martyrium of Saint Thomas [the Apostle]. In accordance with our usage we there performed our devotions and what else we are accustomed to do when visiting holy places. We also read portions of the Acts of saint Thomas [at his Shrine]. The church is indeed a large and handsome edifice of a new design, and it is really worthy to be the House of God. As the city held many sites which I desired to visit, I stayed there for three days. And so I was able to see many shrines of martyrs, as also holy monks dwelling, some at the shrines, others in monasteries situated in isolated places far from the city. The holy bishop of the place, a truly religious man, a monk, and a confessor of the faith, received me most kindly. He said to me, since thou, my daughter, for the sake of devotion hast undertaken so great a task as to journey so far from the extreme end of the world, if it be pleasing to thee, I shall with pleasure take and show thee all the sites which are of interest to us Christians. First thanking god [for this favour], I begged of him to do what he had offered. So he guided me first to the palace of King Aggar’ [Abgar],&c.

The date of this pilgrimage is fixed by the learned editor between the years 385 and 388, and this partly from internal evidence. The writer herself he took to be one Silvia, whose brother at the time held the highest office at the imperial court of Constantinople; he supposed she came on this pilgrimage from Aquitania in France. The account has been written by her for the benefit of religious ladies living in a convent, to whom she shows herself greatly attached. Proof for much of all this is forthcoming from the context of the book. But the opinion that the writer was Silvia was not accepted as decisive, but as one that may be retained until further discoveries on the subject were made. From the quotation given the reader is able to see the familiar tone in which the remarks have been jotted down in a diary, apparently shortly after their occurrence, and the book itself has the appearance of being nothing more than a reproduction of these notes in their original simplicity, fully reflecting the writer’s impressions.

The question of the authorship of the ‘peregrinatio’ has been lately discussed very fully by the Benedictine, Dom Marius Ferotin of St. Michael’s Abbey, Farnborough. The research discloses that the lady pilgrim came from the western coast of Spain; her name is either Etheria, or more probably Egeria, for an entry of another copy of the MS. has been found in an old catalogue with that name, and she is styled an abbess, a dignity to which she may have been elevated after her return to the convent ( Le véritable auteur de la ‘Peregrinatio Silviae,’ par Dom Marius Ferotin, Paris, 1903).

The lady pilgrim paid a similar visit to the shrine of the first virgin-martyr, St. Thecla; and there also, besides praying at the tomb, she read, according to the pious usage of the time, the Acts of her martyrdom. We need hardly remark these would not be the distorted Gnostic edition that has come down to us, but a copy of the Acts accepted and recognised as catholic and genuine by the Christians of that age. The remark applies with equal force to the Acts of Thomas which she records she had read at his Shrine. This offers clear proof that there were copies which had not been distorted and utilised for Gnostic purposes, as we find is the case with those that have come down to us. The Acts the pilgrim carried with her were in Greek, as also was the Codex of the Scriptures, as shown from her quotations.

The Relics of the Apostle remained at Edessa even after the Greek emperors of Constantinople had lost the city and it had passed under Arab or Saracen sway. When the Crusaders first obtained possession of the city and surrounding country, and it had become a county of the new Kingdom of Baldwin, they were known to be still there. The latest mention we find of them is, as we said before, by Archbishop William of Tyre in his Historia Rerum in partibus Transmarinis gestarum (Migne, P.L., tom. cci.). In book xvi. chap. iii. the year of the events narrated is given ‘anno 1142’; at the beginning of chap. iv. William narrates what occurred ‘eodem anno’ [viz.1142]; at col. 642 he says : ‘Sanguinus [Zenghi] imperator Turcarum e civitate Musula [Mosul] obsedit urbem Edessam’; and at chap. v. col. 644: destructo ex magna parte muro civitatis hostis ingreditur, cives gladio perierunt nullo parcens sive aetati sive sexui; and towards the end (col.645): Urbs antiquissima et nomini christiano e temporibus Apostolorum devota, verbo et praedicatione Apostoli Thaddaei ab infidelium superstitione eruta, indebitae jugum passa est servitutis. Dicitur in eadem urbe et corpus beati Thomae apostoli, una cum praedicti apostoli, et beati Abgari regis corporibus esse sepultum, &c. All this goes to establish the fact that when Zenghi, the Emir of Mosul, captured the city in 1142, the Remains of the Apostle Thomas were known to be yet there. Pagi (apud Baron. Annales, 1144,cap.xiv.) assigns the capture of Edessa to the year 1144, and Mansi holds it to have taken place in 1143; Baronius himself in his Annals does not mention the capture of the city by the Saracens. Would not William of Tyre, being practically on the spot, be in a better position to know more accurately the exact date than writers in Europe who would receive the news a year or two later, and perhaps with no fixed date?

The city was captured by Zenghi from the Christian knights after a siege of twenty-eight days. A year later, the Saracen hold becoming weaker, the citizens invited Count Joscelin, the holder of the county, to return. He re-entered the city and held it with his knights, but the fortress remained in the hands of the Mussulmans. Noradin, the son of Zenghi deceased, who had been engaged in asserting his claim to the throne, on learning what had happened, hastily recruited an army and arrived suddenly before the city, which he promptly recaptured; he sacked the place, slaughtered the inhabitants, and destroyed the city. A full account of these events will also be found in Michaud’s Histoire des Crusades, Paris, 1849, vol. i.pp. 350-357, with details from Mahommedan sources as well; see also Rubens Duval’s Histoire politique, religeuse, et littéraire d’ Edesse, Paris, 1892, chap. xiii., p. 252 ff. Pagi (l.c.) quotes the Annales of one Signantius, abbot, who, writing of the destruction of churches that had occurred, mentions also that of the Apostle- ‘in qua Thomaei Apostoli corpus reconditum est.’

It is taken for granted that it was after this second sack and destruction of Edessa that some of the surviving Christian inhabitants recovered the Relics of the Apostle from the ruins of the church. As the whole of Asia Minor was liable to be overrun by the rising Mahommedan power, these were transferred for safety to an island off the coast—that of Chios. No details are now likely to be found as to how and when the transfer to Chios took place; there is, however, ample evidence that they were there held to be the genuine Relics of the Apostle, as the stone—for they appear to have been placed in some sort of a tomb—which covered the remains bore his name and bust engraved, of which an illustration is reproduced.

Of their subsequent history we are put in possession of ample details through the kindness of Archdeacon Perenich of Ortona, who is also the Vicar-General of that diocese, jointly administered in perpetuum, together with his own, by the Archbishop of Lanciano. Ughelli gives an account of the removal from Chios to Ortona à Mare, but by some strange fatuity and ignorance of elementary geography he describes the removal as having taken place by sea from Edessa. Nicholas Coleti, in the second edition of Ughelli’s work, corrects the mistake, saying the island of Chios should stand in the place of Edessa, but leaves the text unaltered. The following details are taken from this second edition.63 The cathedral, which was formerly dedicated to our Lady, is now dedicated to the Apostle Thomas, and holds his Relics in a chapel. An inscription in the church attests that the first dedication was made on the 10th November 1127; the Relics rest there since 1258. A local document is reproduced by Ughelli in the text which gives an account of the transfer from Chios (see cols. 774-776). The local story recites that on the 17th of June 1258, by order of Manfred, Prince of Taranto, a fleet under Philip Leonard, the admiral of the prince, had sailed under the orders of a certain Stolio; the ships eventually reached Chios. On the approach of the fleet the inhabitants fled the town, and a landing being effected, it came to be known, through a monk found in the church, that the Relics of the Apostle Thomas reposed under a slab bearing an inscription and the figure of a bust. The Relics, together with the covering stone, were removed to the ship of Leo Acciaiuoli of Ortona, and the ship in company with two others set sail for Ortona, which was reached Friday the sixth of September. The Relics were removed in solemn pomp to the cathedral. A monument recording the event was placed in the church at a later date, bearing the following inscription:—


Leoni Duci et Civi Ortonensi

Classis Praefecto

quo sub Manfredo a Chio insula

Anno Domini mcclviii

Ossa Beati Thomae Apostoli

caelitus Admonitus

ad Ortonam Patriam


Cives Ortonenses ob tam praeclarum

facinus grati animi ergo

monumentum aeternum


Anno Domini mdciii.

And outside the church, the following:—

Magne Leo in patriam spoliis Orientis onustus

Dum remeas, Thomae huc ossa beata refers.

Thomae ossa infidi, tetigit qui vulnera Christi,

tartara ex latebra quem rediisse negat.

Plus tibi debemus cives pro munere tanto,

Quam si adducta tibi huc India tota foret.

While at Ortona the Relics underwent another vicissitude. A Turkish fleet under Ali Pasha captured the town on Thursday, 1st August 1566; the town was sacked by the enemy, who burnt and destroyed the churches, including that of the Apostle. Finding the altar of the Saint protected by heavy iron railings, and their efforts to burst open the Shrine failing, they employed gunpowder, and caused an explosion which burst up the stone forming the altar slab and fractured also that of chalcedony brought from Chios, mentioned in the footnote. It would seem that they expected to find great treasure there. On the departure of the Turkish fleet, when the inhabitants were able once more to return to the city and ascertain the extent and nature of the damage sustained, they found, at the bottom of the accumulated debris and cinders, the sacred bones of the Apostle, which had reposed under the altar with the relics of other saints, most providentially preserved intact. But they missed his head; after further search it was found crushed under the weight of a portion of the fractured altar-stone; they reverently picked it up, and were afterwards able, to their great joy and satisfaction, to reconstruct the skull so thoroughly that no part was found missing. A Notarial Act of what had occurred was drawn up by those present, attested and signed by the Bishop, John Domenic Rebiba; the Judge, John Vincent de Renaldo; the syndic, Pompeius Panza; Joseph Massarius, public Notary, and many others. This ‘ Deed of the Verification of the Relics’ bears the date of 16th November 1566. A copy of this document has been kindly furnished by the Archdeacon, Vicar- General of Ortona.64

The slab of chalcedony marble, which was brought over from Chios, is preserved in the church, and, as said above, it was fractured by the Turks. It has the bust of the Apostle engraved on it, and on either side of the head are engraved the Greek words AgioV QvmaV, ‘Saint Thomas.’ Owing to the stone being fractured by the explosion, it is now affixed to the wall of the chapel where the Apostle’s Relics were replaced, and the following inscription is placed below it:—

Marmor Calcedonium

parva divi Thomae Apli imagine

ac nomine Grece insculpto


Saracenorum barbarie

sacra omnia anno mdlxvi

incendio vastantium


nativoque ob ignem colore desertum

urnae ejus Apli ex aere

externae deauratae

sub altari conditae

elegantius nuper erecto


ad sacrae posteritatis memoriam

Ordo populusque Ortonensis

hic collocandum curavit

Anno mdcclxxiv

The sacred Relics now repose in a bronze urn placed beneath a marble altar. The head of the Apostle is placed in a silver bust (see illustration), and is exposed to public veneration on the celebration of the feast. 65

Ughelli cites a book written by De Lectis on the transfer of the Apostle’s Relics to Ortona. This, the latter says, took place on the date above mentioned, sixth September 1258; the Archdeacon has kindly informed us that the book, of which we could find no copy, was printed at Fermo at the press of Astolfo de’ Grandi in 1577, and bears the title: Vita del glorioso Apostolo di Cristo Tommaso, con la traslazione e miracoli in esso per virtù di Dio operati, &c.

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