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.