Saint Thomas Statue — Vailankanni Shrine, New Delhi

At the back of the chapel on the left is a statue of Saint Thomas, the “Apostle of India” who is said to have arrived on the coast of modern-day Kerala in AD 52.

He is said to have converted thousands of Hindus to Christianity during his time in the sub-continent and established at least seven churches, before being martyred on St. Thomas Mount in Chennai (Madras) on July 3, AD 72.  The “Saint Thomas Christian” churches (Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara) have descended from Saint Thomas’ time in India. The design of the shrine is identical to the Saint Jude shrine across the way – the glass-encased statue is surrounded a dark wood elongated-arch shrine frame was topped with a cross.  On this day, the statue was also clothed in a pink robe and wore a triangular golden crown – and held his symbolic spear which is said to be representative of his martyrdom by spear by a local king not so accepting of the new religion. The frame was adorned by saffron-colored flower garlands and a basket of open half coconuts nearby, both of which evoke similarities with offerings to Hindu deities, and may have a connection to Saint Thomas early days of proselytizing in India.