Church Patron Saint
The Holy Apostle Thomas
Thomas was one of the Twelve Apostles. Through his doubt in the Resurrection of Christ the Lord, a new proof was given of that wonderful and saving event. The resurrected Lord appeared to His disciples a second time, in order to convince Thomas. The Lord said to Thomas: Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas replied: My Lord and my God (John 20:27-28). After the descent of the Holy Spirit, when the apostles cast lots to see where they would each go to preach, the lot fell to Thomas to go to India. He was a little saddened that he had to go so far away, but the Lord appeared to him and encouraged him. In India, St. Thomas converted many, both aristocrats and poor, to the Christian Faith, and established the Church there, appointing priests and bishops. Among others, Thomas converted two sisters to the Faith-Tertiana and Migdonia-both wives of Indian princes. Because of their faith, both sisters were ill-treated by their husbands, with whom they no longer wanted to live after their baptism. Eventually, they were allowed to go. Being freed of marriage, they lived God-pleasing lives until their repose. Dionysius and Pelagia were betrothed, but when they heard the apostolic preaching they did not marry, but devoted themselves to the ascetic life. Pelagia ended her life as a martyr for the Faith, and Dionysius was ordained a bishop by the apostle. Prince Mazdai, Tertiana's husband, whose son, Azan, was also baptized by Thomas, condemned the apostle to death. Mazdai sent five soldiers to kill Thomas. They ran him through with their five spears, and thus the Holy Apostle Thomas rendered his soul into the hands of Christ. Before his death, he and the other apostles were miraculously brought to Jerusalem for the burial of the Most-holy Theotokos. Arriving too late, he wept bitterly, and the tomb of the Holy Most-pure One was opened at his request. The Theotokos' body was not found in the tomb: the Lord had taken His Mother to His heavenly habitation. Thus, in his tardiness St. Thomas revealed to us the wondrous glorification of the Mother of God, just as he had once confirmed faith in the Resurrection of the Lord by his unbelief.The Holy Apostle Thomas, also called Didymus, was born in Judea. His parents were poor but they passed on to him a great love for the Law of Moses. When he was still young, he drew apart from the noisy games of his companions to devote himself to reading and meditating upon the Scriptures. His knowledge of God’s word and well-disposed conscience enabled him, without hesitation to recognize Christ as the Messiah spoken of by the Prophets and to follow him as soon as He called him. He left his boat and his nets and became one of the Twelve. He was persecuted, excluded and stoned by the Jews, yet followed the Savior everywhere with such burning zeal that when Christ took the road for Jerusalem to offer himself for those who were going to kill him, Thomas said to the other disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him (John 11:16).
When the Savior of the world had overcome death by rising from the tomb, He appeared to his disciples who were assembled with the doors shut for fear of the Jews; He showed them the marks of his Passion upon his body, and the disciples were filled with joy. God so provided that Thomas was not then with them and, when the others told him they had seen the Lord risen from the dead, he was unwilling to believe them. In his great patience and forbearance, the Lord appeared again to his disciples a week later, and asked Thomas to certify that He was well and truly risen from the dead in the flesh; He told him to put his finger into the holes in his hands left by the nails and to thrust his hand into his side pierced by the spear. In admonishing Thomas for his lack of faith, the Savior showed that we too are called upon to thrust our hands into his side, not physically but spiritually, to quench our thirst there at the well-spring of grace (cf. John 20:19-29).
Thomas was with the other Apostles when, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came down upon their heads in the form of tongues of fire. He was filled, like the rest, with the power from on High for the proclamation of the world’s Salvation; and, when the Apostles went their separate ways, it fell to Thomas to bring the Glad Tidings to the distant lands of the Medes and Parthians (Iran), and as far as India.
Orthodox Christian Celebration of the Feast of Saint Thomas
The feast and commemoration of Saint Thomas is celebrated with the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom which is conducted on the morning of the feast and preceded by a Matins (Orthros) service. A Great Vespers may be conducted on the evening before the day of the Feast.
Scripture readings for the feast are the following: At the Divine Liturgy: I Corinthians 4:9-16; John 20: 19-31. (If the feast falls on a Sunday the Gospel readings may vary.)