» »San Thome Basilica – A Historical Pilgrimage in Chennai

San Thome Basilica – A Historical Pilgrimage in Chennai

By Siji Ram

San Thome Basilica is one of the historical churches in India, and a minor basilica in Chennai. This Roman catholic church is one among the three churches in the world that were built on the tomb of apostles. Let us explore this historical pilgrimage centre in Tamil Nadu.

Santhome was a small Portuguese settlement in Chennai (the then Madras). The Portuguese who arrived here in the 16th century has several other monuments constructed in Chennai and other regions of India. Santhome has a few Catholic institutions built by the Portuguese, which take you to the historical times of the region.

san thome

Photo Courtesy: PlaneMad

The Existence of San Thome Basilica

It is said that St. Thomas visited Malabar and started building churches and converting locals to Christianity. When he reached Mylapore, he built a small chapel there. Though the Portuguese built on the ruins of St. Thomas church several times, the church was captured by the British and was rebuilt, giving it the status of a cathedral that it enjoys today.

Santhome is the Tamil name for St. Thomas, who is an archbishop of the Catholic community of Christians. St. Thomas, who was one of the apostles of Jesus Christ, was buried here.


Photo Courtesy: Mathen Payyappilly Palakkappilly

Other Details About San Thome Basilica

The church is built using neo-gothic style of architecture, following the faith of Catholic Christians. The church complex consists of the church, a chapel, the apostle's tomb and a museum. You can read from the stained glass about the divine moment of St. Thomas' meeting with the resurrected Christ. At the centre of the church, you can see the preserved bone of the apostle, along with some remains of his corpse, preserved in a crypt.

The museum here has several artefacts related to the apostle and the era. Inscriptions on stone talk about the good deeds of the saint, and a spear that killed him is also kept for display here. A mini theatre here takes you through the life of St. Thomas.


Photo Courtesy: Arulraja

How to Reach San Thome Basilica in Chennai

The church is located in the Mylapore region in Chennai. You take take an auto or public transport to commute to the region from Chennai city. Chennai is easily accessible from all major cities of India. Here is how to reach Chennai.

Other Places to See in Chennai

Chennai also has many other tourist attractions that are not to be missed. Click for the complete list of Chennai attractions.

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