St. Thomas, The Apostle
St. Thomas the apostle of Jesus Christ came to India in the 52nd year of our Lord and established the church, The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. The state of Kerala was famous for its spices, the priced elephant tusks and red woods and teak woods. The Arabs along with the Chinese traded with the people of Kerala for ages and the art, culture bare testimony to their impact. It is believed that St. Thomas came to Cranganore, the port of Kerala (Cheralam) at that time from Egypt where the writings of the apostolic saint were discovered in the Egyptian desert. It was also known that Cranganore was a great port of destination for Greek and Roman merchants as well. St. Thomas established seven and a half churches in various parts of Kerala before leaving for the Tamil kingdom of Chola. It is believed that he was killed by the jealous Hindu priests.
In the Book “Jesus Sutras” the author Martin Palmer talks about the writings of the Chinese in 635 A.D talking about Thomarist Christians who worshipped Jesus and used the sacred language Syriac. The Thoamrist Christians trace their origin to St. Thomas, the disciple who came to India and then went to China, eventually returned to the Tamil Kingdom where he was martyred.
It is also known that St. Thomas visited the King of Gandhara and stayed as a great builder illustrated in the legendary story of the palace being built in heaven while disbursing the money to the needy and the poor. This all signifies the major element: The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church is the oldest church in the world, established by the Disciple of Jesus Christ, St. Thomas. The Church had been nurtured by the help of other churches of the east but has maintained its independence. Schisms in the church gave way to various Christian denominations in the state, all stemming from the original Orthodox Church.