Born: Early First Century
FEast: July 3rd
architects, Construction, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan
Thomas was likely Jewish and living in an area near Jerusalem when he was called by Jesus to be one of the 12 Apostles, but we don't have an account of how that happened. In John's Gospel, however, we do get to learn some things about Thomas that we don't know about many of the other Apostles.
Firstly, when Jesus says he is going to go visit his friend Lazarus who is sick, Thomas speaks up and asks the Apostles to go with him, even though the journey is so dangerous they all might die. Next, When Jesus speaks of going to Heaven and creating a way for them to follow, Thomas speaks up again and asks him what he means. Lastly, when Jesus appears after his Resurrection to all the Apostles minus Thomas, Thomas states that he won't believe the story until he sees Jesus himself and is able to place a finger into the wounds on his side, hands, and feet. Jesus grants him exactly this wish later, and he believes.
What happened to Thomas after Jesus' Ascension, though, is not as clearly recorded. There are a number of legendary stories that have varying degrees of reliability, one of them including the idea that Thomas was the only one of the Apostles to witness Mary's Assumption, in a flipped version of the other story of him. Another legend goes that when the Apostles were deciding after Pentecost who was to preach where, Thomas was given the region of India. Apparently he was so unwilling to go this distance (possibly the farthest of any apostle), that he was enslaved by a merchant traveling to India by an act of Divine Intervention. When there, more stories say that he was commanded to build a palace for the king (the reason for his patronage of architects and builders). Several stories conflict on whether or not he did build the palace, or if he took the money and gave it to the poor, telling the king that the act had "built his palace in Heaven". Interestingly, the name of the king mentioned was actually the name of the king of the region including the southern Himalayas during the middle of the first century, though truthfulness is still very doubted.
Another legend goes that Thomas encountered the Wise Men that visited Jesus' Nativity - that he told them the rest of the story, and then baptized them.
Regardless, Tradition holds that Thomas traveled, built churches, and preached through central and Southern Asia all the way to India, though groups in China, Indonesia, and even Paraguay insist he also traveled to those places. There are many Christian groups in India with ancient roots that affirm they can trace their belief back to St. Thomas.
His death is also not certain. One story says an archer was aiming for a peacock and missed, killing Thomas instead. Another says he was stabbed intentionally with a spear while on a hill praying. Either way, it is said he was killed in India and that some remains were taken to Mesopotamia, and later, Italy.
You’ll forever be famously known as the one who doubted, though many doubted just as much as you. You doubted, and you even knew and walked with Jesus, so let us remember that when we have doubts. But let us also, like you, be brave enough to act for God and our faith even when we do doubt, for you were the only apostle not hiding even while you doubted.
Thomas, a look of doubt on his face, of course, still stands strong and brave. The colors I chose for his clothing and the style of his hair comes from the story of the peacock.