|Saint Thomas cross en.wikipedia.org|
it is a universally accepted fact that Cross has been a symbol of Christians of various denominations all over the world. Way back in the beginning, it is said that Primitive Christian groups used the image of fish as their symbol. According to Tertullian (b AD 160) the Sign of cross was reported to be used by primitive Christians. Only in the third century cross was linked with divinity and Clement of Alexandria mentions that the Cross was considered as the symbol of the Lord. Emergence of cross as the public symbol of Christians took place in the 4th century after the finding of the real Cross of Calvary by saint Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine who made the declaration that Christianity was the official religion of the Roman Empire. Earlier, Romans and Greeks used cross as a sign of punishment and executed people on crosses. Later the cross became a well-established symbol of Christianity.
Being a multi-religious country, India has been home to many religions for centuries, dating back to first and second centuries. The Saint Thomas Christian community of India traces their origins to the time of the arrival of St. Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. His main purpose was to spread the Gospel of Christ among the natives and engage in evangelistic activities in India. Considered as one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, the Cross been venerated by all St Thomas Christians from ancient times. They have inscriptions in Pahlavi (Middle Persian) and Syriac which indicate that they date to before the eight century.
These carved crosses are decorative and are set inside the churches. These are not typical crucifix as it is commonly found to be. It is a plain cross which doesn’t show Christ on the cross. it is imperative to note that In Eastern and Syrian Christianity, the plain cross is the symbol of the triumph of Christ’s life over death, a typical symbolism in Eastern Christianity. The Saint Thomas Christian crosses come under different categories. They are: Mar Thoma Silba (Saint Thomas Cross), Persian Cross (also called leaved cross as they have a set of leaves at the bottom), and Nasrani Sthambam (open-air rock cross; the plinth of this cross has rose petals, lotus flowers and a square base).
Mar Thoma cross is found at Kadamattom, Kottayam Muttuchira, Kothanalloor and Alangad in the South Indian state of Kerala. Outside Kerala, it is found in Goa and Tamil Nadu in India, Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka and Taxila in Pakistan. Flowery Persian Crosses are found at Kottakkavu, Pallipuram and Niranam. The large rock crosses with no shelter over them called Nasrani Sthambams are found in the front part of many St. Thomas Christian churches in Kerala. An interesting recorded fact is that before the Portuguese explorers landed in India way back in 1498 on the coastal Malabar, there existed
more than 150 Syrian churches and many of them disappeared in the wake of Goa Inquisition under Portuguese rule in the 1500s as part of Kerala came under their rule.
The following places are well-known for the installation of Marthoma crosses (silba is a Syriac term meaning cross):
St. Thomas Mount, Chennai, Tamil Nadu:
|Our Lady of Expectation),St. Thomas mount, Chennai. Flickr|
|St. Thomas Mount, Senhora Da Expectacao (Our Lady of Expectation) iCitySeeker|
down in what is now Madras (now Chennai)
the Church of "Our Lady of Expectations" here in 1523 and formed the fort town of San Thome in Madras. The shrine was built on the spot where St. Thomas died (martyred) way back in 72 AD. It may be small, but nevertheless, but it is historically an important pilgrimage center for ardent Christian devotees..........
Kottakkavu Sliva, the Persian cross, Kerala:
|Kottakkavu Mar ThomaNorth paravur. Kottakkavu Mar Thoma|
established in 52 AD by St. Thomas. It is the first church in India and is called an Apostolic Church credited to the Apostolate of St. Thomas who preached and also started conversion of people to Syriac Christianity here. It was part of the Ezharappallikal (seven and half churches) that he established in India; the other six churches were established at Kodungalloor, Kokkamangalam, Palayoor, Kollam, Niranam, and Nilackal and the last one bein in Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu..........
Marth Mariam Syro-Malabar Church, Arakuzha, Kerala:
|Mariam Syro-Malabar Church, Arakuzha,kerala en.wikipedia.org|
Above image: This is the image of an open air rock cross also called Nasrani sthambam (pillar) in front of Marth Mariam Syro-Malabar Church, Arakuzha, Kerala.
It is under the Major Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabar Church. This Cross is considered to be the oldest one in India. It is a historical fact that St. Thomas Christians of Arakuzha have more than 1500 years of recorded history. This region covering Kothamangalam, Vazhakulam, Arakuzha, Mylakompu, Nagapuzha, Muthalakodam of erstwhile Travancore kingdom has some very old Syrian churches dating several centuries back . Arakuzha, being an ancient Syrian Christian centre, it is recorded, gave asylum to thousands of migrant Syrian Christians during the Tipu Sultan (of Mysore)'s invasion here and persecution of Nasranis and destruction of churches.
Kadamattam Church Kerala:
|Nasrani cross at Kadamattom en.Wikipedia.org|
|Persian cross,Kadamattom Church. en.wikipedia.org|
Muttuchira church, Kerala:
|Muttuchira Church en.Wikipedia.org|
Cross in the Kaduthuruthy Valiapally:
|Granite Cross of Kaduthuruthy Vallyapalli wikipedia org.|
|:||Above image: The historic monolithic Cross in the Kaduthuruthy Valiapally is 50 feet in height and is the highest open air monolithic stone (made of granite) Cross in Asia. Bishop Mar Abraham (1568-1597) directed the Southists to build a |
cross from a granite block and to place in the courtyard of the church. Southist soldiers of Kaduthuruthy effectively protected Mar Abraham by making a formation against Portuguese army and frequently changed his seat from Kaduthuruthy to Udayamperur, Kottayam and Chungam. Mar Abraham was the last Syrian bishop sent by East Syrian Catholicos to his Malabar church. The sculpture and carving work of the Cross from a single stone block had completed with a total height of 50 feet in AD 1596. It was so huge a structure that it was very difficult to position the cross in the courtyard of the Valiapally. During that time when they faced difficulty in erecting the cross in upright position, a miracle had happened. Virgin Mary-the patron of the Kaduthuruthy Vallyapalli revealed herself as an old woman (Muthiyamma) and helped them to set the cross in upright position, This cross is believed to have been touched by her divine hand.
St. Mary's Knananya Church,Kottayam:
|St. Mary's Knanaya Jacobite Syrian Church Syriac Christianity|
Above image: The Cross here at St. Mary's Knananya Church is considered of late origin (Ca 10th century); the Pahlavi inscriptions of this church are famous. Built in 1550 C.E, this church belongs to the Knanaya Orthodox Syrian Community. The Persian cross, believed to be one of the seven brought here by St. Thomas. St. George's Feast, an annual event, falls on April 24. It is situated 2 km to the west of Kottayam city.
Akaparambu Catholic Church,Kerala:
This Cross is at St. Gervasis and Prothasis Church under the eparchy of Palai of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.
|St. Gervasis and Prothasis othanalloorforanechurch.com|
Catholic Church at Akaparambu is about 1.5 km. away east of Kariyad on Angamally-Aluva national high way. The Akaparambu Catholic Church, which is one of the twin churches, is named after twin brothers, Saints Gervasis & Prothasis, who were martyred in Milan, Italy for protecting the Christian faith in the second century. This is the only church in the patronage of these twin Saints in the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamally. The Christian faith and tradition of Akaparambu goes back to first century. Knanaya rite was introduced with the arrival of Knanaya priests along with foreign migrants in the fourth century. At that point of time, a church was built here with the support of Knanaya missionaries in 825 A D. This Church has been known as ‘Church of Kanthisans’ since the ancient time.
Thomas Cross at Agasaim, Goa:
|Thomas Cross in Agasim,700 AD/ gaunkar.com/|
Agasaim: The port of Gopakpattan on the banks
of Zuari was once a busy one, but now has receded into relative obscurity long ago, and the archaeological remains of its glorious past and global links are faded beyond redemption due to neglect. The Port's links with Persia in the 6th century and the first archaeological findings have become a heap of trash and stones. A cross with unique features at Dandi marked the past links with Persia.
Lying in a serene corner of Agasaim, barely 500m north-west of the Zuari bridge, this cross outside St Peter's chapel holds sentimental value for researchers, as another small granite cross with an inscription in Persia's Pahlavi language was found within its structure that shows signs of fading due to age and vagaries of weather conditions.
According to a historian and priest of Pilar society, Fr Cosme Costa, ."The unique half broken granite cross is a valuable find for Goa's history, as it resembles other crosses found on the rim of Indian Ocean," . The cross is two-and-half feet in height, about one foot in breadth and six inches in thickness. Adorned with a lotus pedestal, it has a depiction of the Holy Spirit descending on it. The existence of Christianity in Goa before the advent of the Portuguese has been always known.
Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It is at Anuradhapura museum and was found during excavations of Anuradhapura in 1912. This cross is considered as the oldest cross in Sri Lanka.
Taxila, Pakistan: The cross is kept at the Cathedral Church of the Resurrection, Lahore.
There is a St Thomas cross in stone on the porch of the Church of St Thomas the Apostle, Killinghall, carved by Charles Mawer of Leeds.