Saint Thomas

Today we reached Ortona, a town on the Italian coast, which lies unfavorably high on a steep slope. That we reached it at all was close, because with the heat and humidity we were already half melted before we had even started the ascent. In the center of the city we reached the cathedral of the Holy Apostle Thomas. The name did not come from nothing, because according to tradition the bones of the holy apostle Thomas are kept in a shrine here.

Italienische Kirche

Italian Church

Who was Saint Thomas?

Thomas was one of the disciples of Jesus and was always regarded as a bit of an oddball. He was not someone who simply believed things, but questioned everything. He was the only one of the 12 apostles who also doubted the resurrection of Jesus and only wanted to believe it after Jesus had allowed him not only to see but also to touch the wounds on his hands. He therefore also went down in history as Thomas the Doubter.

After Jesus had returned to heaven, Thomas, like many other apostles, set about spreading the teachings of his old master. In doing so, he is said to have gone mainly to the East and spread the Gospel in Syria and Iraq. Eventually, his journey took him as far as India, where he became a successful missionary, but was then killed in the course of his conversion work. For many years he was then buried in a place called Madras in the district of Mailapur. Most of his bones were later moved to Edessa in what is now Turkey. There they were discovered by crusaders in 1258 and brought to Europe, or rather to Italy. Since then they have been lying here in Ortona. Provided, of course, that it really was his bones, because with so many moves it is of course difficult to tell in retrospect.

In any case, there is still a Thomas cult with many shrines and pilgrimage destinations in India.

Ein italienischer Altar

An Italian altar

The slightly different apostle

The records he has left us are also exciting in his history. So there is also a so-called Gospel of Thomas, which is not included in the Bible because it is too out of place. Moreover, it is considered today to be a forgery or false attribution. This means that the texts themselves are quite genuine and old, but in all probability were written by someone else. Historians attribute this above all to the spelling, which is clearly different from that of the other evangelists. Moreover, Thomas' account contradicted in many points the accounts of Jesus given by the other apostles. Considering our widely travelled and famous neighbor, it was only fitting that we could stay with an Indian community today.

The slogan of the day: Even an apostle need not simply believe everything Stage for the day: Church hotel "Albergo San Gabriele", Villa Rosa, Italy

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