Be inspired by the 12 Apostles

The original twelve Apostles are to be greatly admired. They were among the first to answer Jesus’ call, aside from our Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph, and spent the most time with Him, learning from God firsthand what it means to be truly human. Thus, from the Apostles, including Saint Thomas, we can learn many lessons and many examples of virtue. We can also learn from their mistakes and struggles.

We hope you enjoy this resource and are inspired by it to follow the example of the Apostles in their love and faithfulness to Christ. 

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When is Saint Thomas the Apostle’s feast day?

The Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle on July 3rd. Though Saint’s feast days are typically celebrated on the date of their death, Saint Thomas’ exact date of death is unknown. The date of July 3rd was chosen to commemorate the date his relics were transferred to Edessa (in modern Turkey), possibly from South India, where Christians claim Thomas as the Apostle who evangelized them.  

Who was Saint Thomas the Apostle?

Saint Thomas is one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus chosen by Him to evangelize the world and pastor His flock (the Church) after His Ascension to the Father.  This formal use of Apostle distinguishes the Twelve, and later St. Paul chosen by the Resurrected Christ, from all others – such as those who fulfill the apostolic office today (the Bishops), the disciples who followed Jesus in His time and ours,  and all those who accomplish works of evangelization down through history, “apostles” in a generic sense. 

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” – John 20:27-29

What is Saint Thomas the Apostle most known for?

Saint Thomas the Apostle is most known for being the Apostle who said he wouldn’t believe Christ truly rose from the dead until he placed his finger in His side. He is commonly known as “Doubting Thomas.” He redeemed himself, however, upon seeing the Resurrected Lord, uttering the expression of faith used by Christians ever since, “My Lord and My God!”

How did Jesus call Saint Thomas?

There is no clear account of the moment that Jesus called Saint Thomas to follow Him. Not much is known about Saint Thomas before he met Jesus other than the fact that he was a Jew. 

Why is Saint Thomas called “Doubting Thomas”?

St. Thomas earned the name “Doubting Thomas” for his disbelief in the Resurrection of Christ. After Christ rose from the dead, He appeared to all the Apostles except for Thomas. We can read the account where the Apostles went to tell Thomas what they had seen in the Gospel of John. 

So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!”

 (John 20:25-28)

“My Lord and my God!” – Saint Thomas the Apostle

Is it a sin to doubt?

In Romans 16:26, Saint Paul speaks of our moral obligation to practice “obedience of faith.” In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we are reminded that “the first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it.” (CCC 2088) The Catechism goes on to explain the difference between voluntary and involuntary doubt about the faith, as well as incredulity, explaining that these are three specific ways of sinning against the faith. 

Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness. 

Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.” -Catechism of the Catholic Church 2088-2089

What did Jesus say to Thomas?

The most famous discourse between Jesus and Saint Thomas is when Saint Thomas doubted Jesus’ Resurrection and placed his finger in Jesus’ side for proof. Jesus responded to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:29). 

What is the famous saying of Saint Thomas the Apostle?

The saying most often attributed to of St. Thomas is “My Lord and my God!”, recorded in John 20:28. It tells us that in saying this not only is Thomas affirming his belief in Christ’s resurrection, but he is also boldly proclaiming the divinity of Christ. Some people, particularly those who deny Jesus’ divinity, believe that Saint Thomas was incredulous and therefore saying God’s name as a blasphemy – not identifying Jesus as God. If this had been the case, Jesus would have rebuked him. This prayerful expression, therefore, is one that Christians can use, both in moments of doubt and to silently express their faith ―such as at the consecration of the bread and of the wine, when Christ becomes Present.   

What is Saint Thomas’ symbol?

Each Apostle has their own symbol to represent them. Saint Thomas is represented by a spear and a ruler. The ruler refers to his profession as a builder and the spear represents his martyrdom. 

Do you really believe that it was by chance that this chosen disciple was absent, then came and heard, heard and doubted, doubted and touched, touched and believed? It was not by chance but in God's providence. In a marvelous way, God's mercy arranged that the disbelieving disciple, in touching the wounds of his master's body, should heal our wounds of disbelief. The disbelief of Thomas has done more for our faith than the faith of the other disciples. As he touches Christ and is won over to belief, every doubt is cast aside and our faith is strengthened. – St. Gregory the Great

What does “Thomas” mean and was he the twin brother of Jesus?

The name “Thomas” is of Aramaic origin and is known to mean “twin.”  In Scripture, Thomas is also referred to as “Didymus,” which means “twin” in Greek. Because of this, some have come to the conclusion that if Thomas’ name meant “twin,” he must have been the twin of Jesus, or at least his brother. Nowhere does the biblical, ecclesiastical or historical tradition support such speculation. St. Luke makes clear in describing the Annunciation of the Archangel to Mary the singular nature of the Lord’s conception (Luke 1). Thus, the Church has always upheld the perpetual virginity of Mary as the true “ark of the Covenant,” who only ever held within the Word of God made Flesh (John 1).

Did Saint Thomas bring Christianity to India?

Several non-biblical traditions of uncertain veracity suggest the fact that St. Thomas evangelized parts of India in the middle of the 1st century. Taken together they suggest at least a common historical opinion. 

However, the strongest evidence is that of the so-called St. Thomas Christians, believers of India themselves, whose own traditions hold Thomas as their apostolic source, and no other.

For an account of the ancient evidence:

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Who are the “St. Thomas Christians” today?

Today the Christians who attribute their 1st-century foundation to the Apostle Thomas are represented by Christians of both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, primarily in Kerala, an Indian state on the southwest coast of the sub-continent. 

Owing to their ritual affinity with the Syriac liturgical tradition, the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Churches belong to that Eastern liturgical family. Since the arrival of the Portuguese in the 1600s some of the Syro-Malabar have come into communion with Rome, and other Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara re-established connection with the Syriac Church of the East and the Orthodox. Likewise, through the efforts of St. Francis Xavier and other Catholic missionaries, some Indians have adopted the Latin Rite. Finally, some adopted Protestantism.

For more on the complex Christian history of India:

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Where do we read about Saint Thomas in the Bible?

We can read about Saint Thomas in the Bible mostly in the Gospel of John. The three most notable passages in Scripture relating to Thomas are John 11:1-­16, John 14:1-14, and John 20:24-29. In John 11:1-16, Thomas encouraged the other disciples to accompany Jesus as He was going to visit Lazarus after his death. In John 14:1-14, when Jesus tells His disciples that He is going to prepare a place for them and that they know the way to the place, Thomas responded by saying, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). And in John 20:24-29, the most well-known passage, the Apostle is shown doubting Christ’s resurrection and then proclaiming His divinity after putting his finger in Christ’s side.

Did Saint Thomas witness the Assumption of Mary into Heaven?

There are conflicting stories on the exact events surrounding the Assumption of our Blessed Mother and who was present at the events leading to it. In his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus defining the dogma of the Assumption, Pope Pius XII teaches the universal tradition of East and West that Our Lady “fell asleep” (her dormition) in the Lord, was laid in a tomb (MD 17ff), and some days later was Assumed, in the presence of all the Apostles. Among the traditions connected to this is one that holds that St. Thomas was absent at her death, but was miraculously transported to her tomb after her burial, where he witnessed her Assumption into Heaven.

The Lord knows when and how to do things…Thomas placed his fingers in the Lord’s wounds. But he did not say: “It’s true, the Lord is risen.” He went further; he said: “My Lord and my God.” Starting with his disbelief the Lord led him to profess not only his belief in the Resurrection but above all, his belief in the divinity of the Lord. – Pope Francis, Morning Meditation in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, 3 July 2013

What is the “Girdle of Thomas”?

A legend holds that in connection with Saint Thomas’ witnessing of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Assumption, a knotted belt, or girdle, fell from the sky to him. Some believe that since it was precisely “Doubting Thomas” that couldn’t witness her death, our Blessed Mother chose him to witness her Assumption into heaven, leaving him a physical sign as proof of the occurrence. A belt claiming to be this girdle is preserved in Italy, and is often represented in medieval art.  

How did Saint Thomas die and where is he buried?

It is believed that Saint Thomas was martyred with a spear in India. An historical tradition holds that following his death, some of his relics were taken to Edessa, located today in south-east Turkey, while the rest were kept in India. These latter can still be found in Saint Thomas Cathedral Basilica in Chennai, Mylapore, India. It is believed that the relics that were once held in Edessa, were later taken to the Basilica of Saint Thomas the Apostle in Ortona, Italy. 

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What can we learn from Saint Thomas?

The main virtue we can learn from Thomas is that of Faith. After Thomas’ skepticism at Our Lord’s Resurrection, Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:29). From this incident, therefore, we should learn this lesson of Our Lord: to have faith and to believe, even without seeing. 

What is Saint Thomas the patron saint of?

Saint Thomas is the patron saint of architects and builders, due to his profession.