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"We went in a carriage to the military station of St. Thomas' Mount, eight miles from Madras, intending, in our way, to visit the spot marked out by tradition as the place where the Apostle St. Thomas was martyred. Unfortunately the 'little Mount,' as this is called, (being a small rocky knoll with a Roman Catholic Church on it, close to Marmalong bridge in the suburb of Meilapoor,) is so insignificant, and so much nearer Madras than we had been given to understand, that it did not attract our attention until too late. That it really is the place, I see no good reason for doubting; there is as fair historical evidence as the case requires, that St. Thomas preached the Gospel in India, and was martyred at a place named Milliapoor or Meilapoor. The eastern Christians, whom the Portuguese found in India, all agreed in marking out this as the spot, and in saying that the bones, originally buried here, had been carried away as relics to Syria. They and even the surrounding heathen, appear to have always venerated the spot, as these last still do, and to have offered gifts here on the supposed anniversary of his martyrdom. And as the story contains nothing improbable from beginning to end, (except a trumpery fabrication of some relics found here by the Portuguese monks about a
century and a half ago,) so it is not easy to account for the origin of such a story among men of different religions, unless there were some foundation for it.
"I know it has been sometimes fancied that the person who planted Christianity in India was a Nestorian Bishop named Thomas, not St. Thomas the Apostle; but this rests, absolutely, on no foundation but a supposition, equally gratuitous and contrary to all early ecclesiastical history, that none of the Apostles except St. Paul went far from Judea. To this it is enough to answer, that we have no reason why they should not have done so; or why, while St. Paul went, or intended to go, to the shores of the further west, St. Thomas should not have been equally laborious and enterprising in an opposite direction. But that all the Apostles, except the two St. Jameses, did really go forth to preach the Gospel in different parts of the world, as it was, à priori, to be expected, so that they did so we have the authority of Eusebius and the old Martyrologies, which is at least as good as the doubts of a later age, and which would be reckoned conclusive if the question related to any point of civil history. Nor must it be forgotten, that there were Jews settled in India at a very early period, to convert whom
would naturally induce an Apostle to think of coming hither; that the passage either from the Persian Gulf, or the Red Sea, is neither long nor difficult, and was then extremely common; and that it may be, therefore, as readily believed that St. Thomas was slain at Meilapoor, as that St. Paul was beheaded at Rome, or that Leonidas fell at Thermopylæ. Under these feelings, I left the spot behind with regret, and shall visit it if I return to Madras, with a reverent, though, I hope, not a superstitious interest and curiosity.
"The larger Mount, as it is called, of St. Thomas, is a much more striking spot, being an insulated cliff of granite, with an old church on the summit, the property of those Armenians who are united to the church of Rome. It is also dedicated to St. Thomas, but (what greatly proves the authenticity of its rival) none of the sects of Christians or Hindoos consider it as having been in any remarkable manner graced by his presence or burial. It is a picturesque little building, and commands a fine view."
A legend is quoted by Cave from Gregory of Tours, concerning the tomb of this Apostle at Malipur, which, though deserving of no more credit than other legends of the same class, is pleasing to the imagination. A lamp, says the
legend, hangs before his tomb, which burns perpetually, needing no oil, and undisturbed by the wind or any accident whatever. - Possibly a gaseous fountain might once have existed there, which would be a sufficient origin for the story; or some deception may have been practised by the priests.
The 21st of December is St. Thomas's day in the Western Calendar.
MATTHEW places himself the eighth on his list, and styles himself "the Publican." This avowal of his profession is at once a proof of his humility and his good sense. He had the meekness to set himself down exactly what he was, notwithstanding the contempt which the confession might bring upon him; and he had the wisdom to perceive that there was no rank or occupation in life, however low, which could change the nature of true worth, or really disgrace an honest and virtuous man.
To the Jews, above all other people, publican was an odious name. There is a use of this word
among us, a low and improper use, which has nothing to do with its true signification and its Scripture sense; for a publican does not mean, in the Gospels, an innkeeper, but a taxgatherer, or a receiver of the tribute imposed by government. The Romans employed these receivers of tribute, or publicans, in all their provinces, and among