Saturday, July 3, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Thomas the Apostle

Did you know that in the Church every day is a feast day? That's right, each day of the year is the feast of at least one saint. So I've decided that I'm going to start doing a daily feature on the saint of the day. Today - St. Thomas the Apostle.

St. Thomas is best known as "doubting Thomas," the apostle who told his fellow disciples that he would not believe that Christ had risen and had appeared to them "unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side." A week later, according to the Gospel of John, Christ appeared again to the apostles and instructed Thomas to "put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving but believe."
St. Thomas is mentioned in the Gospels several times prior to this. Catholic Online describes him as a "dedicated but impetuous follower of Christ." This is due primarily to the occasion described in John's Gospel when Jesus informs His followers that He is going to Judea to serve His friend Lazarus, who is ill. The apostles immediately remind Jesus that during their recent stay in Judea the Jews tried to stone him to death. When Jesus is adament that He will go Thomas implores the disciples "Let us also go to die with Him," displaying his love, unto death, for the Lord.

He is mentioned once more in the Gospel of John as the apostle who, at the Last Supper, says to Christ "Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" In answer to his plea St. Thomas received the "beautiful assurance" from Our Lord that "I am the way, and the truth, and the life."
St. Thomas is mentioned throughout the Gospels as one of the apostles and also as one of those present in the upper room at Pentecost.

Little is known for certain about St. Thomas' later life but tradition holds that he "was sent to evangelize the Parthians, Medes, and Persians; he ultimately reached India, carrying the faith to the Malabar coast, which still boasts a large native population calling themselves 'Christians of St. Thomas.'" He was ultimately martyred circa 72 A.D. when he was stabbed with a spear while in prayer.

St. Thomas is often pictured with a builder's square for several reasons. First, tradition holds that he built the first Church in India with his own hands. The builder's square further represents building a strong spiritual foundation.

St. Thomas is the patron saint: of architects, against blindness, against doubt, of blind people, of builders, of Certaldo, Italy, of construction workers, of Ceylon, of the East Indies, of geometricians, of India, of masons, of Pakistan, of people in doubt, of Sri Lanka, of stone masons, of stonecutters, of surveyors, and of theologians.

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