St. Thomas the Apostle, also called Doubting Thomas or Didymus (meaning “Twin”) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He is best known for questioning Jesus’ resurrection when first told of it, then proclaiming “My Lord and my God” on seeing Jesus’ wounds. He was perhaps the only Apostle who went outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel. He is also believed to have crossed the largest area, which includes the Parthian Empire and India
Thomas speaks in the Gospel of John. (John 11:16) when Lazarus has just died, the apostles don’t want to go back to Judea, where Jesus’ fellow Jews had attempted to stone him to death. Thomas says bravely: “Let us also go. that we may die with him”
In Thomas’ best known appearance in the New Testament, he doubts the resurrection of Jesus and demands to touch Jesus’ wounds before being convinced. Caravaggio’s painting, “The Incredulity of Saint Thomas” depicts this scene. This story is the origin of the term Doubting Thomas. After seeing Jesus alive, Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”
When the feast of Saint Thomas was inserted in the Roman calendar in the 9th century, it was assigned to 21 December, although the Martyrology of St Jerome had a mention of the Apostle on 3 July, the date to which the Roman celebration was transferred in 1969, so that it would no longer interfere with the major ferial days of Advent. 3 July was the day on which his relics were translated from Mylapore, a place along the coast of the Marina Beach, Chennai in India to the city of Edessa in Mesopotamia. Roman Catholics who follow a pre-1970 calendar and many Anglicans (including members of the Episcopal Church as well as members of the Church of England who worship according to the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer still celebrate his feast day on 21 December.
The Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches celebrate his feast day on October 6 (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, October 6 currently falls on October 19 of the modern Gregorian Calendar). In addition the next Sunday of the Easter (Pascha) is celebrated as Sunday of Thomas, in commemoration of Thomas’ question to Jesus which led him to proclaim, according to Orthodox teaching, two natures of Jesus, both human and divine. Thomas is also commemorated in common with all of the other apostles on June 30 (July 13), in a feast called the Synaxis of the Holy ApostlesAccording to The Passing of Mary, a text attributed to Joseph of Arimathaea. Thomas was the only witness of the Assumption of Mary into heaven. The other apostles were miraculously transported to Jerusalem to witness her death. Thomas was left in India, but after her first burial he was transported to her tomb, where he witnessed her bodily assumption into heaven, from which she dropped her girdle. In an inversion of the story of Thomas’ doubts, the other apostles are skeptical of Thomas’ story until they see the empty tomb and the girdle. Thomas’ receipt of the girdle is commonly depicted in medieval and pre-Tridentine Renaissance art,
“Judas, who is also called Thomas” has a role in the legend of king Abgar ofEdessa (Urfa), for having sent Thaddaeus to preach in Edessa after the Ascension (Eusebius, Historia ecclesiae 1.13; III.1; Ephrem the Syrian also recounts this legend.) In the 4th century the martyrium erected over his burial place brought pilgrims to Edessa. In the 380s, Egeria described her visit in a letter she sent to her community of nuns at home (Itineraria Egeriae):
According to legend, St. Thomas attained martyrdom at St. Thomas Mount in Chennai and is buried on the site of San Thome Cathedral.
In 232 the relics of the Apostle Thomas are said to have been returned by an Indian king and brought back from India to the city of Edessa, Mesopotamia, on which occasion his Syriac Acts were written. The Indian king is named as “Mazdai” in Syriac sources, “Misdeos” and “Misdeus” in Greek and Latin sources respectively, which has been connected to the “Bazdeo” on the Kushan coinage of Vasudeva I, After a short stay in the Greek island of Chios, on September 6, 1258, the relics were transported to the West, and now rest in Ortona, Italy.