The Revd. Mark Woodrow talks about his upcoming pilgrimage to the Christian communities of India, inviting others to join him on the expedition.
When 16th century European priests arrived in southern India to introduce Christianity, they were told that a more famed Christian missionary had been there many years beforehand.
As they travelled in and around the regions of Travancore and Cochin, the priests found that there were indeed a long-established community of Christians, and the man who first converted them was none other than St. Thomas the Apostle (the “Doubting Thomas”), who it was said, arrived in India aboard a Roman trading vessel in 52 AD.
Now, whether St. Thomas himself actually preached under the palm trees of Travancore and Cochin nearly 2,000 years ago, in the end comes down to an act of faith. One thing is certain though and that is that Indian Christian traditions predate any in Europe, and for the more than 2 million Christians in the region there is no doubt.
However, just like St. Thomas, it is sometimes easier to believe when you can see and touch things for yourself, and so to trace these historic roots and traditions I am inviting you to join me in discovering these in depth first-hand.
Together, we will explore these unusual stories, ancient churches, and the Christian traditions of south India. Our journey will take us along the south west Malabar coastline, through the backwaters of Kerala to the very southern tip of the subcontinent, before traveling on to the Coromandel coast in the east, where, tradition tells us that St. Thomas met his end at the hands of an angry king on a hilltop just outside modern-day Chennai (Madras).
Along the way we will visit a modern-day legacy of St Thomas’ Christian influence, as we visit the Donhavur Fellowship, a community founded by the late Anglican missionary and spiritual writer Amy Carmichael. As well as experiencing and participating in the Christian traditions; we will also take the opportunity to visit the magnificent Hindu temples in Madurai and the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Mahabalipuram – all with plenty of time to relax, shop for gifts or handmade clothes, eat well and to enjoy all that India has to offer.
This tour really does offer something for all, whether you have travelled to South India before, or a new to the region or country, this tour will enable you to meet the real people and explore those places overlooked by tourists – allowing you to become a pilgrim instead and to follow in paths once trodden by saints.
I very much look forward to travelling with you.
For more information please visit www.soulofindia.com/seven-and-a-half-churches/
Revd. Mark Woodrow is Priest in Charge of The Benefice of Stoke-by-Nayland with Leavenheath and Polstead, and Nayland with Wissington. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01206 262150