• 17-Apr-2023

Kerala BJP leader visits St Thomas’s shrine: Who was the apostle and why is his visit to India disputed?

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Kerala BJP Vice President AN Radhakrishnan on Sunday (April 16) trekked to a hilltop shrine in Malayattoor village of the Ernakulam district, on the occasion of a festival held there on the first Sunday after Easter.

The shrine is dedicated to Saint Thomas, an apostle who was believed to be one of the 12 followers of Jesus Christ. It is said that he arrived at the location of the shrine after reaching India in 52 AD. Devotees believe he performed a miracle and left a footprint on the hilltop.

While the RSS refused to comment on the visit, Sangh-linked think tank Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram’s director R Sanjayan said there was no historical proof that St Thomas visited India.

“It is only folklore that St Thomas established churches in Kerala. But the visit of Radhakrishnan to Malayattoor need not be linked with the RSS stand on St Thomas. It (about St Thomas) would continue to remain as an academic dispute. The visit of a BJP leader to the shrine would be part of the practical politics of BJP and there could be irrational aspects in it as in the pragmatic politics of all other parties. There is also hypocrisy in the debates over BJP-Christian dialogues,’’ he said.

Who was St Thomas and what is known of his visit to India? We explain.

Who was Saint Thomas?

In Christian mythology, it is believed that when Jesus Christ set out to preach his beliefs and message, he had 12 apostles or disciples whom he chose to spread his word. St Thomas, one of those apostles, is mentioned in The Gospel of John, the fourth of Christianity’s authoritative books that give an account of Jesus’s life.