Celebration of the Holy mass at the ancient Church of St. Thomas in Mosul, Iraq, on St. Thomas day.
Mosul, Iraq - July 3, 2009: Marking the Apostle St. Thomas Day on 3rd July 2009, Holy Mass was celebrated at the historical church of St. Thomas, in Mosul, Iraq, by Metropolitan H.E. Mor Gregorios Saliba Shamoun of the Archdiocese of Mosul. Hundreds of faithful participated in the Holy Mass and other commemorative celebrations. A traditional procession by the faithful led by the priests was also held on the occasion.
It was from this church of St. Thomas, the holy relics of the Apostle was discovered by our present Patriarch 45 years back when he was the Archbishop of the diocese. The history says that St. Thomas was martyred while on his Apostolic mission to India on 21st December AD 72 and was buried there.
Persecutions in the subsequent years made the Christianity in India, that was spread through the Apostolic mission of St. Thomas, to be confined to just the present southern Indian state of Kerala (Malankara) where large number of St. Thomas Christians exists to date, and as a result the burial place of the Apostle which was located miles apart from this Christian settlement area, faded
into obscurity. The arrival of more Syrian Christian missionaries from mid-4th century and the subsequent revival of Christian practices, increased the importance of the Apostle's burial place and the church fathers who visited the place decided to transfer the relic to safer place. Thus in AD 394, the sacred relics of St. Thomas was transferred from India to Edessa by the church fathers and was established in the Cathedral of St. Thomas there. It is this day of
establishment of the St. Thomas relic in the Cathedral of St. Thomas in Edessa which is celebrated as Apostle St. Thomas day universally.
During the great Christian persecutions of subsequent years the church in Edessa, like all other churches in Holy Land, was ransacked by its enemies and this prompted the church fathers to transfer the relic to safer places. A major portion of this Apostle's relic (bone) was taken to Mosul and was hidden in the walls of the ancient Syrian Orthodox church there which remained undiscovered for many centuries until it was rediscovered by our Patriarch 5 decades ago.
Sixteen centuries after the said transfer, a part of the Holy relic found its way back to India when the late lamented Patriarch Ignatius Yakub III of blessed memory presented it to the Indian Syriac Church in 1964. Later in 1994 our present Patriarch, who was entrusted by our Lord, to rediscover the sacred relic of the great architect of Indian Christianity, presented a portion of relic to the ancient & famous Cathedral of St. Thomas in Mulanthuruthy, Kochi, India,
where the feast of St. Thomas is celebrated with great importance both on July 3rd and on the Apostle's martyrdom day on December 21st.
For Photos: http://syrianchurch.org/