Holy See Recognizes India's First International Shrine

KOCHI, India, MAY 5, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See recognized India’s first international shrine, one dedicated to the apostle Thomas.

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According to tradition, it was this disciple of Jesus who brought the Gospel to these lands. The Syro-Malabar Church was born from his preaching.

The official announcement of the recognition was made April 24 by Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, archbishop major of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabars, in whose jurisdiction the shrine is located.

The shrine in the state of Kerala has been the object of pilgrimages since the fifth century.

Vatican Radio described the shrine as situated on a hill in the town of Malayattoor, where tradition says St. Thomas would retire to pray. It is known as «kurisumudi,» or hill of the cross.

There is a chapel at the summit, preceded by a church dedicated to the apostle. The shrine houses a gold cross and two footprints of the saint.

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