St. Thomas

A commemorative postage stamp on the 19th Death Centenary of St. Thomas :

Issued by India579 Stone Cross [Church, St. Thomas Mount, Madras]

Issued on Jul 3, 1973

Issued for : The Posts and Telegraphs Department are privileged to bring out a stamp commemorating the 1900th death anniversary of St. Thomas.

Description of Design : The stamp design is vertical and depicts the cross in the church on St. Thomas Mount, Madras.

Type : StampMint Condition

Watermark : No

Colour : Grey Raw Sienna

Denomination : 20 Paise

Overall Size : 3.91 X 2.90 cms.

Printing Size : 3.56 X 2.54 cms.

Perforation : 13 x 13

Paper : unwatermarked adhesive stamp paper

Stamps Printed : 15,00,000 in sheets of 35

Printing Process : Photogravure

Designed and Printed at : India Security Press

About : 

  • The arrival of St. Thomas in India was a matter of great significance. There is a general belief that Christianity was brought to India by Western countries, which is not borne out by history. The very same time St. Peter and St. Paul proceeded West, St. Thomas had proceeded eastwards to India.
  • Soon after the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, His disciples assembled to discuss their future plans in the light of Christ’s direction to “go out all over the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation”. It is said that the disciples cast lots to decide which way each of them should proceed to execute their Master’s orders and it fell to the lot of St. Thomas, to go East.
  • The tradition is that St. Thomas first proceeded to the north-western parts of India, the land of the Parthian king Gondophares during the second quarter of the first century. There is little trace at present of the activities of the saint in these regions. Perhaps his mission was short-lived as history tells us that during the Kushan invasion around 47 a.d., King Gondophares had to flee and his dynasty ended. St. Thomas also had to leave.
  • During that period the coast of Kerala was famous all over the world for its enormous supply of spices. There were regular sailings from the Middle East to the port of Muziris near present Cranganore, about 10 miles north of CochinSt. Thomas sailed from Arabia to India and landed at Cranganore about the year 52 A.D. The traditional belief is supported by strong evidences of the activities of St. Thomas in South India. In Kerala he founded seven churches at PalayurCranganore, Kottakavu (Parur), KokkamangalamNiranam, Nilakal and Quilon.
  • After his evangelisation on the west coast, he shifted his activities to the Coromandel coast in the East. Three places are outstanding in their connection with the missionary labours of St. Thomas in this part viz. Mylapore, Little Mount or Chinna Malai and St. Thomas Mount or Periamalai. Here he was the favourite of the local king Mahadevan. But he was ever in danger of losing his life by the scheming ministers of the king. St. Thomas had to hide in the jungles of the Little Mount to escape persecution.
  • From Little Mount he shifted to St. Thomas Mount, a very difficult place of access in those days. But the marauders sought him there, and were on the point of seizing him. Unbroken tradition maintains that while the Apostle was praying before the cross carved by him on a stone, which is seen to this day, an assassin procured by King Mahadevan’s ministers and priests, crept up stealthily and pierced him with a lance from behind. Thereupon, the Apostle is reported to have fallen on the stone cross and embraced it, his blood wetting it and the space around. This was in the year 72 A.D. This cross was accidentally discovered as the Portuguese were digging up the foundations of a new church on the mount. It is now installed in this church. This cross is specially adopted for design of this stamp, being closely associated with the death of St. Thomas.

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