HomeUSSt. Thomas the Apostle: more than just a doubter

St. Thomas the Apostle: more than just a doubter

The Incredulity of St. Thomas by Caravaggio. / Credit: Caravaggio, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

National Catholic Register, Jul 3, 2024 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” ―John 20:28

Although several stories of doubt exist in the Bible, it is Thomas’ incident that seems to catch the most attention, earning him the nickname “Doubting Thomas.” Fortunately, John’s Gospel and some early Church historians give additional information on Thomas, helping searchers to realize that the doubting story was only one part of Thomas’ experience as an apostle.

John’s first account of Thomas actually displays a man of tremendous faith. Jesus had barely escaped a fierce stoning in Jerusalem when, just a few days later, he received word that his friend Lazarus was very ill. Lazarus lived in Bethany, a very short distance from Jerusalem, and Jesus felt strongly compelled to go there, knowing that a miracle surrounding Lazarus’ death was necessary to illustrate the glory of God.

However, the apostles were aghast and tried to discourage Jesus from returning to an area where he had so recently almost been killed. Ironically, it was Thomas who was the believing one. He bravely encouraged all to go to Bethany with Jesus, even if it meant death for them: “Let us also go to die with him” (Jn 11:16).

The “Doubting Thomas” story took place after Jesus’ resurrection. When Jesus appeared to the disciples in all his glory, for some reason, Thomas was absent. Later, when Thomas rejoined the disciples, they told him all that had happened, but he was unconvinced. He then made his famous statement about needing to place his finger and hand in Jesus’ wounds before he would believe. A week later, Jesus again appeared, and this time Thomas was there. Jesus momentously offered Thomas the opportunity to touch his wounds, and Thomas then proclaimed an ardent belief in the risen Jesus.

Most traditions point to Thomas as having evangelized in India following Pentecost. Today, there is a devout community of Catholics on the Malabar Coast of India who call themselves the St. Thomas Christians. They claim that their community began through the teachings of Thomas himself.

It is believed that Thomas was speared to death for his works in India. He is honored on July 3 and is the patron of architects.

Nine Days with St. Thomas

If you would like to better imitate Thomas’ bravery in remaining close to Jesus, despite any dangers that might arise, or if you have trouble with a doubting heart, consider spending nine days in prayer with this apostle. Prayerfully read one St. Thomas-relevant passage a day for nine days; keep a journal if you’d like, and see how this apostle helps to draw your heart closer to Christ.

  • Day 1: Matthew 10:1–15

  • Day 2: Mark 3:13–19

  • Day 3: Luke 6:12–16

  • Day 4: Luke 8:22–25

  • Day 5: John 11:8–16

  • Day 6: John 14:5–6

  • Day 7: John 20:24–29

  • Day 8: John 21:1–14

  • Day 9: Acts 1:6–14

This article was first published by the National Catholic Register, CNA’s sister news partner, on July 3, 2018, and has been adapted by CNA.

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