Standing tall against the azure blue Chennai skyline, the spotless white structure of the Santhome Basilica is indeed imposing
The church has been constructed keeping in mind the Neo-Gothic style of architecture, this style was particularly favored by the British architects of the 19th century. Decorative tracery with pointed windows is an essential feature of this style of architecture
Neo Gothic architecture is inspired from old Victorian cathedrals. The elaborate and ornate stained glass window is another feature, which allows for greater illumination within the interiors of the church
Continuing the theme of the interiors of a Neo Gothic church; the confession box near the back entrance is also of a similar shade, and ornamental detail
The central area of the church is colossal, measuring about 112 feet by 33 feet it is known as the nave. The polished brown ceiling of the nave is about 40 feet high and supported by white, curved arches on both sides
The nave has a cool, dark, coffee brown ceiling which is covered with elegant chandeliers, this is iconic of Gothic architecture
The Stained glass windows behind the main altar of the church depict the lives of St. Thomas and the other apostles of Jesus Christ. There is intricate tracery and details within the windows that also illuminate the church
Cutout niches allow one to look into the church from the outer rooms, also allowing light to enter the otherwise darker interiors
Geometrical design and pinnacles are also archetypal of Neo Gothic architecture, as seen in the exteriors of Santhome Basilica
The Santhome church has slender towers, which reach a maximum of almost 155 feet from the ground. The tall towers impart a feeling of strong verticalness giving an added height to the entire structure
Tall, proud and stark white the Santhome Basilica as it is popularly known derives its name from San Thome or Saint Thomas, after whom the church has been named. It has been built over the tomb of St. Thomas who was one of Jesus Christ’s 12 apostles. It is also commonly known as Santhome Church.
The church is spotless white from outside, with a cool dark coffee brown ceiling and supporting arches on the inside. Typical of the Neo - Gothic architectural style, it sweeps over you with a feeling of calmness, once you enter the church.
It is a belief that St.Thomas came to India in 52 AD, after working for some time on the west coast he traveled up to Madras. It was at the St. Thomas Mount where he suffered martyrdom; his disciples buried him where the current Santhome Church stands. In the year 1517 when the Portuguese arrived in India, they found the ruins of a shrine, which they then took upon themselves to rebuild in the year 1523. The church was then taken over by the British in the year 1740; it was rebuilt by the year 1893. And the British version is what remains standing today.
It is possible to access the tomb of the saint within the church, and hence pilgrims from across the world have come to worship here. 1n 1956 the church was declared a Basilica.