Touted as a medical tourism destination, Chennai accommodates several renowned educational institutions. It has some of the famous educational institutes of the country. This capital city of Tamil Nadu has its own charm with scintillating beaches, historical monuments and notable museums.
It has been home to several glorious religious shrines as well. Santhome Basilica is a significant shrine that is dedicated to St. Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ who was entrusted the task of spreading the Lord’s teachings. It is one of the most popular pilgrimage sightseeing places to visit in Chennai.
This Roman Catholic minor Basilica built in honour of the Patron Saint of India is also renowned as St. Thomas Cathedral Basilica of the International Shrine of Saint Thomas. It is the major church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Madras and Mylapore and designated as a national shrine by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
Santhome Church has been an important religious shrine as it is one of the three churches in the world that have been built on the tombs of the apostles. Romes’s St. Peter’s Basilica and Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Spain are the other two churches built on the tombs of Saint Peter and Saint James respectively.
St. Thomas is also referred to as Didymus. He is believed to have landed in Kerala in 52 A. D and since then has been preaching Christianity until he was martyred in AD 72. He was killed on St. Thomas Mount with a lance that was pierced from his back.
Portugese who arrived in India in 1500 A D found the tomb of St. Thomas and built the church over the tomb. Britishers had reconstructed the church in 1893 and in 1896 it was consecrated by da Silva, the first Bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in India. Pope Pius XII gave the church the status of a Basilica Minor in the year 1956.
If you have just one day to visit Chennai and looking to visit San Thome Basilica Church, you can choose on of our Chennai city tour packages or customize your own tour with your preferred list of tourist places in Chennai.
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Architecture of San Thome Basilica Church, Chennai
Santhome Church stands majestically with the outer facade being complete white and the inner ceiling being dark brown. An amazing church built in neo-Gothic style delights every visitor with its naturally lit interiors, rows of wooden pews and magnificent windows with coloured panes.
The impressive main area of the church called as the nave is 112 feet by 33 feet and holds awe-inspiring chandeliers. Stained glass windows behind the main altar showcase the lives of St. Thomas and other apostles of Jesus Christ.
It has been wonderfully renovated to have two chapels. The main chapel is above the ground and the tomb chapel is built under the ground. Visitors can find a statue of the great saint inside a glass case at his final resting place. Pilgrims visit the quaint place where the tomb is decorated with flowers and candles every day.
One of the city’s most sacred shrines, Santhome Basilica was renovated in December 2004 and has a statue of Mother Mary brought from Portugal. Adding to the charm of the sacred shrine is the 183 feet high spire constructed in 1894. You can plan to visit this tourist attraction with Chennai local sightseeing tours from Chennai Tourism in a private cab of your choice.
Stained glass windows of the auspicious complex showcase the story of St. Thomas and the wooden plaques depict the story of the last days of Christ. Tall spires of the church grab the attention of every visitor. The main altar has the inspiring statute of Jesus Christ.
An informative museum with several important artefacts is a must visit for all the tourists which also houses the spear or the lance head that was used to kill St. Thomas. Other noteworthy collection exhibited in the museum includes great apostle’s fingerprint, an Episcopal chair, two postage stamps, inscriptions of his deeds on stones, the remains of his bones and wall paintings portraying St. Thomas’s life and death.
A mini theatre showcasing a short film on the life of St. Thomas is another interesting feature of the church. At the rear end of the basilica is an old sundial.
Events at Santhome Basilica Church Chennai
Christmas and Easter are well celebrated in the Church and several donations are made during this time period. Third day of every month is dedicated to St. Thomas and second Saturday of every month is dedicated to the Lady of Mylapore.
400 years of the diocese of Mylapore was celebrated recently in the Church. Mass timings on Sunday are 6 AM, 9 AM and 5 PM. Rest of the days, the mass is held at 6 AM, 11 AM and at 6 PM.
Santhome Basilica has several exciting places to be visited in its vicinity including Marina Beach, Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Velleeswarar Temple, Sai Baba Temple Mylapore, Vivekananda House, Edward Elliot Beach and Gandhi Beach.
Entry Fees and Timings
There is no entry fee for visiting the San Thome Basilica Church and it is open from 6 AM in the morning till 9 PM in the evening.
How to Reach
Chennai is one of the busiest airports in the country. It is well linked with other international airports of the world and domestic airports of the country. Located at around 20 km from the city centre the Kamaraj Terminal serves the domestic flights and the Anna Terminal serves the international flights.
Chennai is also extensively linked with other parts of the country through buses that runs daily from the Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminal or the CMBT which is spread over an area of 37 acres. Travellers looking to explore Chennai in a full day can opt for one of our 1 day Chennai tour packages.
Chennai is well connected with the different parts of the country through well established rail network. Chennai Central and Chennai Egmore are the two major railway stations. While Chennai Central has trains running from various cities to Chennai and Chennai Egmore provides daily trains to various parts of the state.
Chennai has a good network of electric trains and local buses connecting different locations within the city. Santhome Church is situated in Mylapore at the end of Kutchery Road. Visitors can access local buses, cabs, autos, rickshaws or taxis from the railway station, bus stand or airport to reach Santhome Church.
FAQ’s and General Information about Santhome Basilica
Why should we visit Santhome Basilica?
Santhome Basilica has been one of the key attractions of travellers as it is one of the three churches of the world built on the tombs of the apostles of Jesus Christ. The neo-Gothic style of architecture is another appealing feature of the church that makes it a must visit for tourists visiting Chennai.
When should we visit the Santhome Basilica?
Santhome Basilica can be visited any time of the year however most people travelling to Chennai prefer to visit the metro city during the months of September to March in order to avoid the scorching heat of the city experienced during the rest of the month.