Santhome Basilica at Mylapore, Chennai, India, is a famous Roman Catholic pilgrimage site, built over the relics of St. Thomas, an apostle of Jesus Christ.
Christianity was brought to India by in 52 AD by St. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. He came to India in 52 AD, preached Christianity till 72 AD, when he was martyred at St. Thomas Mount, a small hillock near Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
The Portuguese explorers built a church in the sacred memory of St. Thomas at the site where he was originally interned at a place at present day Myalapore, Chennai in the 16th century.
Later the British rebuilt the church as a cathedral in 1893.
It contains relics (bones) of St. Thomas.
The cathedral was raised to the status of a minor Basilica in 1956 by Pope Pius XII in 1956. Incidentally, there are only three basilicas built on tombs of an apostle in the world --- St. Peter’s at Rome, St.James in Compestella, Santiago & St. Thomas in Chennai, so it is an extremely important pilgrimage site for the Catholics all over the world.
It was declared a National Shrine in 2006 by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
The basilica is a huge one, 210 feet long, 40 feet wide& the spire is 155 feet high. The first thing that attract the vision of this beautiful basilica is the sparklingly white spires & the beautiful stained glass windows.
Inside, the central hall is beautifully decorated with 14 wooden plaques depicting pictures of the last days of the life of Jesus Christ. The alter is beautifully decorated & there is a serene statue of Jesus.
The basilica is visited by people of all religions, & is an important landmark of the city of Chennai, India’s fourth metropolis.