He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.' (Mark 16: 15)
Saint Thomas did just that. He set sail and according to the legends reached the coast of Kerala way back in AD 52. Muziris, was one of the most prominent port of the days and it was here that St Thomas started spreading the word of the Lord. He is credited with the setting up the earliest churches in the area. These churches later came to be known as the 'Ezharapalli' or the 'Seven and a Half Churches' consecrated by the Saint. We go back in time and try to trace the Saint's footsteps this Christmas.
Kodungallur also known as Muziris, was one of the most happening port towns of the day. A hub of trade frequented by the Jews, the Arabs and the Chinese. And according to historians, it was this Jewish community here that first accepted Christianity. Later, the Saint travelled to Kottakkavu, near North Paravur about 22 kms away from the port town and preached his faith.
He travelled to Palayur, where he is supposed to have performed a miracle. Saint Thomas, the legends say, saw some brahmins who were offering prayers and asked them why the water they offered was falling back. The brahmins were left dumbfounded when the offering made by Saint Thomas stayed suspended in mid - air. They followed the teachings of Saint Thomas after this and adopted Christianity as their religion.
After performing this miracle, the Saint travelled towards Kokkamangalam which is very near Cherthala. With in a decade, the Saint had gathered a lot of followers. He travelled up through Niranam and Nilackal setting up churches and stone crosses along the way. The communities grew. From Kollam, the Saint travelled to Thiruvithamcode, which is part of Tamil Nadu now. It was here that he established the famous church which came to be known as the 'Arappally' before he went on to Madras.
These 'Seven and a Half churches' hold a special place in the history of Christianity in the state. There has been debates about the authenticity of Saint Thomas' visit to Kerala. But when it comes to faith, these debates take a back seat.