San Thome Basilica is considered to be the principle church of Chennai - Mylapore Catholic Archdiocese. The church was raised to a status of minor basilica in 1956 by Pope Piux II. This was further declared as a national shrine by the Catholic Bishop's Conference of India in 11 February 2006. This Gothic church has been one of the most revered pilgrimages for all the Christians in India.
History of San Thome Basilica
San Thome Basilica, which later on came to be known as San Thome Cathedral, was constructed in the honour of St. Thomas who travelled from Israel and arrived at Kerala in 52 A.D. and preached from 52 A.D. to 72 A.D. He was killed on Mount St Thomas. Since then St. Thome Basilica has been revered by all his followers who believe that the basilica contains the apostle of St. Thomas who is buried there. St. Thomas’s mortal remains were believed to be buried in the location over which the present day San Thome Cathedral Basilica stands. The present Gothic style church was completed in 1896 and duly consecrated by Rt. Rev. Dom Henrique Jose Reed da Silva, the first Bishop of the diocese.
Structure and Decoration of San Thome Basilica
This Gothic shaped church is 155 feet tall with a nave that is 112 feet tall and 33 feet wide. This also includes a sanctuary which is 62 feet tall and 33 feet wide. Decorated with stained glass windows, this sanctuary depicts the teachings and stories of St. Thomas and other apostles. Inside the sanctuary, there is a statue of St. Thomas seated. Along with other decorations, this basilica includes the ancient paintings of our blessed mother and the great apostle of Saint Francis Xaviers. Besides this the basilica also includes two new structures. One is a tomb chapel below the basilica and the other is Museum-cum-theatre. The new underground chapel has a separate access which allows the pilgrims to pray at the tomb while the tourists can visit from outside without disturbing the sacred functioning of the church. The museum exhibits artifacts connected with St. Thomas and Basilica.
Visiting Information to San Thome Basilica
San Thome Basilica can easily be reached by bus from Thiruvanmiyur and Adyar bus stand. It can also be reached by train. The church is located at a distance of 2 km from Thirumayilai local railway station on Chennai beach to Velachery local train route.