Santhome Cathedral Basilica
38, Santhome High Road, Chennai-600 004
Phone : 044 24985455 / 24980758
A Brief History
There are three places that stand out as monuments of honour, speaking aloud about the presence, activity and the martyrdom of St. Thomas, the apostle of India.
They are 1. Little Mount, 2. St. Thomas Mount, 3. San Thome Cathedral Basilica.
St. Thomas built a church at San Thome. After his martyrdom, his body was buried in the Church built by him. A pot containing earth, moistened by his blood and the lance with which he was placed were both buried in his tomb. The foundation for a new church was laid on 2nd July 1523. The church was rebuilt and erected as a Parish. Father Penteado from Portugal was the first Parish Priest. In 1893 His Excellency, Dom Henry Joseph Reed Da Silva, Bishop of Mylapore demolished the old cathedral and laid the foundation for the new Basilica, to commemorate the Golden Jubilee Day of the Episcopal Consecration of His Holiness Pope Leo XIII. In this church the second tower, a smaller one, points to the exact place where the Apostle was buried. The new Basilica was constructed and consecrated on 1st April 1896 AD. The top of the cross on the spire is 155 feet from the ground level. In this Church the statue of our Lady of Mylapore is enthroned, before which St. Francis Xavier prayed intensely for several days while he stayed in Mylapore.
The Bishop of Dacca consecrated a new bell on 9th May 1896. His Excellency, Dom A.S. Valente, Patriarch of the East Indies consecrated the mail altar of the Cathedral. The Bishop of Mylapore consecrated the altar of Saints Peter and Paul on 29th June 1896 AD. A sun-dial from the old Cathedral is placed on the rear side of the Sacristy. This Cathedral Basilica is a matter of St. Thomas. There are Three Basilicas, all over the world, that are built over the tomb of the apostles. The first one is St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the second one on the tomb of St. James, and the third one is the tomb chapel of St. Thomas in San Thome Cathedral Basilica in Chennai. The Cathedral Basilica was restored and sonsecrated on 12th December 2004 by the Apostolic Nuncio His Excellency Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana and Cardinal Ivan Dias of Mumbai. On 8th September 2005 the present Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore His Grace Most Rev. Dr. A.M. Chinnappa, SDB., DD., PhD., issued a decree elevating the Cathedral Parish as a Shrine of the Archdiocese.
The Basilica Museum The San Thome Cathedral Basilica houses a museum that is a treasure house of great antiquity, which includes the lance head that killed St. Thomas, a rare piece of his precious bone, an Episcopal chair and a stone receptacle.