St Thomas Basilica church facts:
The church of St. Thomas is one of the only three churches built over the tomb of an apostle (one of the original 12 disciples chosen by Jesus Christ to preach his gospel).
The other twos are: Saint Peter’s Basilica over the tomb of st. Peter Rome and Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela built over the tomb of st. James in Spain.
St. Thomas Basilica church as seen across the street
Story Behind Santhome church:
Saint Thomas came to India in 52 AD and after preaching on west coast, he came down to Chennai on east coast and suffered martyrdom beside the bay of Bengal. The present Basilica stands over the spot where his body was buried.
How to reach St Thomas Basilica church, Adyar?
It’s located with in 2 kms reach of Thirumayilai (also called Mylapore) local railway station on Chennai beach to Velachery local train route. It is also accessible by bus from Thiruvanmiyur and Adyar bus stand.
The nave of the Basilica from main entrance
Me and My brother decided to visit Saint Thomas Basilica Church, Santhome on Sunday morning. Since we were not pretty much aware of the church prayer hours, we reached a bit late almost at the end part of the prayer. Here is the timings for those who wanna visit the church on Sunday. I would personally recommend it.
Visiting hours Santhome church, Adyar:
regular visiting hours are from 5:00 am to 9:00 pm.
5:30 am & 10:30 am: Rosary, Benediction, Holy mass
6:15 am to noon: Holy mass begins in different languages
3rd of everything month is dedicated to St. Thomas. Adoration, Rosary, Novena and Holy mass are organized at timings same as above.
2nd Saturday of every month is dedicated to Lady of Mylapore.
The lady of Mylapore
We were already late in the holy mass. People were already offering prayers and we also joined them and stood in a corner beside the main entrance. Once prayer was over, people began dispersing away. we waited for more time so that everyone could go out and we can discernibly look at the architecture, statues, stained window and paintings of the Jesus around. When the central altar almost became empty, we were surprised to see the wooden ceilings above. They had been carved with utmost perfection and precision. I was wondering that they were still intact and working.
When we looked on the walls, there were paintings of Jesus in wooden frames. I think, Paintings depicted the life cycle of the Jesus mostly portraying the Crucifixion of the Jesus.The wooden frames were replication the main entrance of the church with two tombs sideways.
Paintings of different events in Jesus life
The windows are made up of stained glasses with different different colors and paintings. The paintings are mostly about mother Mary and Jesus.
Painted in different colors and camouflaging with the Neo-Gothic architecture, the paintings disseminated divinity and vivacious space of the church. The morning sun rays made them more vivid and spectacular.
Stained glass, paintings behind and Jesus at the main altar
We were surprised to see Jesus standing over a lotus and two peacocks in the front. This art must have been influenced by Hindu religion where Lotus and peacock are widely used in religious statues, paintings and replicas.
we took a round in the left altar as well as the right altar looking at different statues and paintings, chairs where father sit and lectern where they stand during holy mass. Those were really surprising and we began relating them to different movies and churches that we had ever seen in life before. It was really fascinating.
We, then decided to see tomb chapel beneath the basilica. It has a separate access from outside the church so that sacred functions inside the church don’t get disturbed.
It was first time in our life we were seeing any underground sacred chamber and that too at a world renowned church of a great holy person. Visitors are given leaflets about the history of the church. Shoes are supposed to be removed before entering the chapel.
We went down and it was cool, serene ans so peaceful there.
Shrine of St. Thomas at tomb chapel
It was so tranquil, we were into different dimensions totally insular from outside world and hundreds of years back in memory. The walls were lighted with dim yellow lights staging the aura of chapel with silence. Today, the shrine preserves a small bone of the saint and the head of the lance with which the saint was pierced. His statue is resting there in peace. There is also a museum cum theater. Museum exhibits artifacts related to st. Thomas and theater is used to screen short videos on life of apostle.
Another thing, I was stormed to see was the wedding place inside the church just in front of the shrine of st. Thomas. I wish I could attend some christian weddings sometimes.
they really look appealing and fascinating to me. People dressed in suits, especially bride in whites and people sitting all around with the father reading the marriage prayer. Wow! I cant believe this. And, the same above scene flashed in my mind when I saw the place. Imaginations sprinkled out and I wanted to keep wondering there for hours like a kid.
Wedding hall in front of shrine of St. Thomas
White wedding clothing tied with ribbons to the benches were giving so auspicious feelings. May be I was too excited and motivated by the English wedding.
Other places which are also worth seeing in and around the church are:
New Brass flag pole
Lily pond to the right of main entrance gate
Sea beach at walking distance from the church
Jesus embellished in flowers
And, the story ended here and we returned our home happily with thousand sparkling memories of different cultures and the history that got carried away to India by Bay of Bengal thousands of years ago.
Don’t forget to leave your valuable comments and suggestions behind 🙂