1. Stone Cross from the Shrine of St. Thomas, Chennai (Madras)
Date unknown, possibly circa 8th-9th century CE
St. Thomas Mount, Chennai Tamil Nadu, India
Ricci 1 KP India 06 025
The shrine at Thomas Mount near Chennai is associated with the martyrdom of St Thomas as described in the Acts of St Thomas, composed in the 3rd century CE. A medieval text in Latin suggests that in the 9th century the English King Alfred the Great sent an embassy to this tomb in India.
Different Christian traditions mark the resting place of St. Thomas, not all of them in India. The Roman Catholic tradition has his relics buried at Ortona in the Abruzzi region of Italy; the Greek Orthodox claim that Thomas’s skull resides on the island of Patmos in the Aegean. The Church of the East claims that his relics were returned from India to Edessa in northern Syria. Nevertheless, Marco Polo and many medieval European travelers to he East made the effort to visit St. Thomas Mount in India to venerate the apostle saint.
The cross has the same Pahlavi (Middle Persian) inscription and iconography as the “Persian” cross on the south altar of the church at Valiapally (Varapoly), Kerala (Ricci 8).