There are many traditions surrounding what the apostles did after the ascension of Christ – where they evangelized, who they converted, and how they died. However, many of these traditions were not written down until centuries later and after they had accrued many mythical – and even contradictory – details.
However, we have a very strong and reliable tradition when it comes to the activities of St. Thomas. Every account has him traveling to India to evangelize and our best proof of the veracity of that tradition is the fact that there has been an uninterrupted community of Christians in that predominantly Hindu land which has always considered itself founded by St. Thomas. Unfortunately, they have not been able to avoid the divisions of the larger Church and today there are Catholic, Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox churches which come from that original Thomistic foundation.
Happily, it has just been announced that these churches have come to an agreement which will unite them more closely:
The bishops of Kerala– the home of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church– have reached an agreement with Syrian Jacobite and Syrian Orthodox leaders to share churches outside Kerala for Sunday Mass and to consider sharing cemeteries and the use of priests at funerals. All four churches trace their origin to the evangelization of St. Thomas the Apostle.
Underscoring the agreement’s ramifications beyond India, the Catholic delegation was led by Bishop Brian Farrell, LC, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity since 2002.
Although the sacred liturgy in both the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church is celebrated in Malayalam, the former uses the Chaldean rite, while the latter uses the Antiochan rite. The Syrian Jacobite Church and the Syrian Orthodox Church are not among the Eastern Orthodox churches that ceased communion with the Holy See in 1054; rather, they are among the Oriental Orthodox churches that ceased communion with the Holy See following the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451.
Pray for these Christians that they might be an example to us all of how we can live in a more united Church.