BYZANTINE GREEK ICONS
The most ancient Christian emblem is the giant Air Free standing rock cross known as the "Nazrani Cross" found at the frontage
of many Churches in Kerala India.
Saint Thomas the Apostle the founder of Christianity in India . Byzantine Greek orthodox icon
in Kerala, India.
ANCIENT CROSSES IN INDIA KNOWN AS MAR THOMA SLIVAS AND NAZRANI CROSSES.
It is very interesting that Saint Thomas Christian crosses discovered in India,
which are ancient crosses which trace the origins to the Evangelistic activity
of Saint Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century . Saint Thomas Christians crosses classified as Mar Thoma Sliva (Saint Thomas Cross),Persian Cross and Nasrani Sthambam.
Mar Thoma Slivas Crosses, also called Leaved Crosses or Percian Crosses are found at Kadamatton,Muttuchira ,Kothanallor,Kottayam and Alangad in the south Indian state of Kerala.Outside of Kerala ,they are found in Goa and Tamil Nadu in India ,Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka and Taxila in Pakistan.
The giant open Air Free standing rock crosses known as Nasrani or Nazraney Sthambams are found at the frontage of many Saint Thomas Christian Churches in Kerala.They are usually aligned to the west end of the Churches and on the festival days during processional days people process around these crosses and burn coconut oil as an act of offering and reverence at the bases of these
large crosses on their pedestals.The plinth of these crosses represents lotus
petals and lotus flowers and has a square base.Also has a variety of iconographic motifs,elephants,peacocks, depictions of the Holy Family anf of the Crusifixion. It is recorded that before the arrival of Portoquese explores there were more
than 150 Syrian Churches in Kerala.
There also other flowery ancient Persian Crosses in Kerala Churches.These Crosses represent the Christ's sacrifice and resurrection and the triumph of Christ's life over death through its various symbolism.Kerala also has many Churches of antiquity.
Mar Thoma Sliva is a Syriac term which means Saint Thomas Crosses. Antonio Gouvea in the 16th century work "Jornada" states that the old Churches of Saint Thomas Christians were full of Crosses of the type discovered in Mylapore .He also states that veneration of these Crosses is an oldest custom in Malabar.
source: Ancient crosses of India World Public Library
Also an Egyptian merchant known as Indicopleustes ("Ινδικοπλεύστης" in Greek means the one who made frequent voyages through the sea to and around India) in the 6th century recorded the existence of Christians communinities in the region of Malabar (Kerala )and Kalyan ,India.
In the 13th century the traveller Marco Polo found communities of Christians in South Asia.
Saint Thomas the Apostle & Patron Saint of India.
SAINT THOMAS THE APOSTLE & PATRON SAINT OF INDIA
The founding father of Christianity in India
Title: Saint Thomas ( in Greek)
Greek title: Ο Αγιος Θωμάς
Medium: Egg-tempera and gold leaf on canvas attached to wood
The Saint Thomas the Apostle is dressed inside with a light red hiton and outside a dark green himation.As all the figures in Byzantine icons Saint Thomas is posed frontally and looks directly out to the viewer conecting
with him spiritually. With this way this position in relation to the viewer
made him more accessible both literally anf figurativelly.He is informally called "doubting Thomas " because he doubted Jesus Christ resurrection when first told in the Gospel of John the Evangelist , follow later by his confession of faith "My Lord and My God" ,on seeing Jesus wounded body .For this reason in this icon the Saint has in his left hand an open
scroll with the words in Greek "O ΚΥΡΙΟΣ ΜΟΥ ΚΑΙ Ο ΘΕΟΣ ΜΟΥ "
("My Lord and my God") while with his right hand gives a blessing.Above
his head has a thin triple open apse meaning the Heaven that is open .The icon has designs on the gold surface of the halo with 10 blue stones and a Cross created with pink stones as a reminder of the Holy Spirit that he received with the other Apostles at the Pentikosti .
Also with the Cross above the head of the Apostle Thomas is given a referal to the Christians of India for the Saint Thomas ornate ancient Crosses very known in India as " Saint Thomas Crosses " or known as " Nasrani Menorah " or " Mar Thoma Sliba" that they have found in India from the 6th century in a number of Churches in Kerala, Mylapore, and Goa.
Saint Thomas the Apostle (called Didymus which means "The twin"
Toma on Aramaic or clasical Syriac meaning twin ) was one of the 12
Apostles of Jesus Christ ,according to the New Testament.
He is informally called doubting Thomas because he doubted Jesus resurrection when first told ,(in the Gospel of John), folloewd later by his confession of faith,"My Lord and my God",on seeing Jesus wounded body.
Thomas first speaks in the Gospel of John.In John when Lazarus had recently died,the Apostles do not wish to go back to Judea,where some Jews had attempted to stone Jesus.Thomas says:"Let us also go,that we may die with him".
He speaks again when Jesus had just explained that he was going away to prepare a heavenly home for his followers,and that one day they would join him there.Thomas reacted by saying ,'Lord ,we dont know where you are going ,so how can we know the way ?"
Later on Thomas tells how doubting Thomas was skeptical at First when he heard that Jesus had risen from the dead and appeared to the other Apostles,saying,"Except i shall see in his hands the print of the nails,and put my finger into the print of the nails,and thrust my hand into his side ,I will not believe." But when Jesus appeared later and invited Thomas to touch his wounds and behold him,Thomas showed his belief by saying,"My Lord and my God" .Jesus then said "Thomas ,because thou hast see me,thou hast believed blessed are they that have not seen,and yet have believed."
According to tradition believed that the Apostle Thomas have sailed in AD 52 to spread the Chtistian faith, and is believed to have landed at the port of Muziris (today North Paravur and Kodungaloor in modern day Kerala state)where there was a Jewish commmunity at the time.He is believed by the Saint Thomas Christians tradition in India to have established Ezhareppallikal or Seven and half Churches in Kerala. These Churches are Kodungallur,Palayoor,Kottakkavu(Paravur), Kokkamangalam,Niranam,
Nilackal(Chayal),Kollam and Thiruvithamcode (half Church).Saint Thomas works miracles in India ,and at Edessa Thomas is destined to baptize peoples .
Also Christianity is believed to have been founded in China by the Apostle Thomas around the year 68 AD.
ICON OF SAINT THOMAS THE APOSTLE & PATRON SAINT OF INDIA