A 13th-century Armenian Illumination

A 13th-century Armenian illumination, by Toros Roslin.

Our beloved St. Thomas Armenian Church is dedicated to the holy memory of St. Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles of Christ.

Thomas the Apostle was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, according to the New Testament. He is often referred to as doubting Thomas because he doubted Jesus’ resurrection when first told, (Gospel of John), followed later by his confession of faith, “My Lord and my God”, on seeing Jesus’ wounded body.  He would not believe in the Resurrection of Christ until he saw, on the hands and feet of Jesus, the marks of the Crucifixion.

St. Thomas was also known as Didymus (which means “the twin”).  He was a very courageous and dedicated Apostle of Christ.  When the Pharisees and the members of Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish governing body, were plotting against Christ and planning for his murder in Jerusalem, Christ was told that Lazarus, his beloved friend and brother of Mary and Martha, was on his death bed; and if He did not hurry, Lazarus would die.

Christ immediately decided to go to Jerusalem and said, “Let us go to Judea again.”  The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?”  Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight?  Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world.  But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.”  After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.”  The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.”  Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death.  They thought that He was referring merely to sleep.  Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.  For your sake, I am glad I was not there so that you may believe.  But, let us go to him.”

Thomas said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”  (John 11: 7-16)

Thomas was skeptical at first when he heard that Jesus had risen from the dead and appeared to the other apostles, saying, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” But when Jesus appeared later and invited Thomas to touch his wounds and behold him, Thomas showed his belief by saying, “My Lord and my God”. Jesus then said, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed.” Thus, not only did St. Thomas believe that Christ had resurrected and appeared to them, but he also proclaimed Christ’s divinity.  John 20: 24 – 29

Following the Pentecost (the descent of the Holy Spirit upon St. Mary, the Mother of God) the twelve Apostles, seventy-two disciples, the myrrh-bearing women, and his secret disciples in the Upper Room, and almost all the Apostles went to the four corners of the world to spread the “Good News,” the Gospel, and founded churches.

St. Thomas is said to have traveled outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel.  He went as  far as India, where he  was martyred on a hill which is now called “Mount of St. Thomas” near Madras. He founded the Church of the Christians of St. Thomas in Malabar, South India.  According to  tradition, the Apostle reached Muziris, India in AD 52 and baptized several  people, founding what today are known as Saint Thomas Christians or Nasranis.