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 Another Tsunami 'Miracle' As Cathedral Dedicated To St. Thomas Survives Waves

The Indian Catholic reports from Chennai that "the tsunami waves have subsided, but a miracle is being talked about across Chennai. It is the story of how St. Thomas’ miraculous post, as it is known, kept the invading waves away -- sparing the newly renovated Santhome Cathedral."

As the paper points out, the Cathedral -- the world’s second basilica built on an apostle’s tomb -- has been giving shelter to hundreds of tsunami victims ever since the waves ravaged many buildings across the coast.

But even though the killer tsunami waves devastated the Chennai coast, Father Lawrence Raj, the parish priest of the Santhome Cathedral Basilica, says “the sea did not touch our church.”

The reason? “We believe the miraculous post of St. Thomas prevented the sea waters from entering the church,” explains Father Raj.

Notes The Indian Catholic: "The church that sits at the site where St. Thomas, one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ, was buried after his death in the year 72 is located a few meters from the sea. While all the buildings on either side of the church were hit by the tsunami waves, the Santhome Cathedral remained unaffected. Local people now say it is the St Thomas’ miraculous post that has kept the sea away on December 26. According to Father Raj, the legend is that when St Thomas planted the post at the top of the steps leading to the Cathedral, he said the sea would not pass that point.

According to the publication, the priest watched from the terrace of the church the angry sea in action, as it surged across the road and inundated huts in front of St. Thomas’ post -- which, it was noted, is an innocuous looking log of wood, mounted on a cement pedestal.

"The belief goes that a village in the Mylapore area was flooded when a huge tree trunk fell across the river. The local king brought a royal pachyderm to lug it away, but the task seemed impossible. Then, according to legend, St. Thomas came along, removed the girdle from his waist and handed it to a bystander and asked him to yank the log with it. He did so and the log was moved easily. A mural in the Cathedral museum illustrates this incident. Father Raj says the current post is believed to be from that same log of wood."

Many survivors who have been staying in the church ever since the tragedy hit them have prayed to St. Thomas for saving them. “It is St. Thomas who has saved me. This church was untouched by the waters because of the miraculous power of the St. Thomas post,” said K. Sebastiraj, a fisherman who sought shelter in the Santhome Cathedral.

January 8, 2005

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