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St. Thomas Mount

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St. Thomas Mount Chennai

The Church in St. Thomas Mount in Chennai was built in 1523 by the Portuguese at the summit where Saint Thomas was killed. The small hill about 300 ft high, with the eponymous name of St.Thomas was called as 'Parangi Malai' in Tamil. The local Tamil population named the hill as 'Parangi malai' meaning the mountain of a fair skinned man.

St. Thomas, who was one of the 12 apostles of Christ, reached the western coast of India around 52 and 72 AD. He is then said to have traveled to Mylapore in Chennai. The Little Mount area or Chinnamalai is the area where he spent the last years of his life. His bodily remains buried in Mylapore near the Luz area were later transported to Edessa. Originally when they excavated the area at the time of Portuguese, they unearthed a metal lance head, bloodstained earth inside a pot and the bones of the saint. A small hand bone of the Apostle as well as the head of the lance that was used to attack him were later preserved in the San Thome Church.

A flight of 160 steps built by the Armenian merchant Coja Petrus Uscan in the year 1726 AD, takes you to the church on St. Thomas Mount - the Church of Our Lady of Expectation (Senhora da Expectacao in Portuguese). You will find the 14 stations of the Way of the Cross with life size statues along side of the steps. Roman Catholics flock to this St.Thomas Mount during the lent season and on Good Friday for the Way of the Cross, reminiscent of the momentous event on the Mount Cavalry about 2000 years ago.

In the church at St. Thomas Mount, you can find the painting of the Madonna that is said to have been done by St. Luke. The carved Wooden Pulpit brought from Armenia by Petrus Uscan has intricate carvings. This church was originally built by the Armenians around 530 AD. The Portuguese who landed in Pulicat in Coromandel Coast in the year 1515 AD, renovated the church in 1523.

The Bleeding Cross is an interesting relic here. This cross has stains resembling bloodstains that seem to reappear even after they are scrubbed off. The Cross is said to have 'bled' first during Mass in 1558. The stone cross engraved with ornamental decorations as a bas relief has this inscription: 'In punishment by the cross was the suffering of this one, Who is the true Christ, God above and Guide ever pure'.

Chinnamalai or Little Mount, just after the Marmalong bridge in Saidapet, is a rocky area where you will find the cave that the Apostle Thomas chose for his home. At the entrance of the tunnel, you can find a visible palm print that is believed to be of the Apostle himself. Little Mount has an ancient church dedicated to our Lady of Good Health with a small vault that was built by the Portuguese in the year 1551 AD. Adjacent to this church is another comparatively recently built circular church. The perennial spring that passes by the church is reputed to have curative powers. A festival is held at Little Mount every year just after the Easter.

St. Thomas Mount