Thomas (St), Christians of

Thomas (St.), Christians Of, a body of Syrian Christians dwelling in the interior of Malabar and Travancore, in the south-western part of Hindustan. When the Portuguese landed in India in the 16th century, they discovered what they supposed to be a Nestorian Church there, the members of which called themselves. Christians of St. Thomas. They retained the Syrian language, held the validity of only two sacraments, and were governed by bishops under a metropolitan. They rejected the authority of Peter, and did not enforce sacerdotal celibacy. They neither invoked saints nor worshipped images. These churches were soon subjected to severe persecution, and many were forced into Romanism. The inquisition, also, was established at. Goa. Dr. Claudius Buchanan found, however, a remnant of them, in 1807, near Travancore. They still retain some ecclesiastical independence. According to a. statement of some authority, the St. Thomas Christians number 70,000 individuals, and the Syro-Roman Catholics 90,000, that is, the party who have submitted to the papal jurisdiction. But the Church service in Syriac: is not understood by the people, who are ignorant and prejudiced. That their creed is not directly Nestorian may be seen from the declaration of the metropolitan of Malabar made in 1806: "We believe in the Father,. Son, and Holy Ghost, three persons in one God, neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance; One in Three, and Three in One: the Father generator, the Son generated, and the Holy Ghost proceeding.. None is before or after the other; in majesty, honor, might, and power coequal; Unity in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity. The metropolitan disclaims the heresies of Arius, Sabellius, Macedonius, Manes, Manianus, Julianus, Nestorius, and the Chalcedonians, adding that in the appointed time, through the disposition of the Father and the Holy Ghost, the Son appeared on earth. for the salvation of mankind; that he was born of the Virgin Mary through the means of the Holy Ghost, and was incarnate God and man." "They believe that the souls of departed men do not see God till the judgment day; they allow three sacraments-baptism, orders, and the Eucharist; and they abhor auricular confession. In the consecration of the Eucharist they use small cakes made with oil and salt; instead of wine is water in which raisins have been steeped; they observe no age for orders, but admit priests at seven, eighteen, twenty, etc., who may marry as often as their wives die. Their children, unless in cases of sickness, are not baptized till the fiftieth day. At the death of any friend the relations keep an eight days fast in memory of the de-ceased. They observe the times of Advent and Lent, and many other feasts and festivals, but especially those which relate to Thomas — the Dominica in albis, or Sun-day after Easter, in memory of the notable confession of Thomas; one on June 1, which is also celebrated by Moors and Pagans. The Church of England Missionary Society has established among these people an extensive mission, occupying two or three stations; and a college has been established at Kottaytm for the instruction of candidates for the ministry, which has been liberally endowed. See Eadie, Eccles. Cyclop. s.v.; Farrar, Eccles. Dict. s.v. SEE NESTORIANS.

Bible concordance for THOMAS.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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