Life of the Saint
The Holy Apostle Thomas, also called Didymus, was born in Judea. His parents were poor but they passed on to him a great love for the Law of Moses. When he was still young, he drew apart from the noisy games of his companions to devote himself to reading and meditating upon the Scriptures. His knowledge of God’s word and well-disposed conscience enabled him, without hesitation to recognize Christ as the Messiah spoken of by the Prophets and to follow him as soon as He called him. He left his boat and his nets and became one of the Twelve. He was persecuted, excluded and stoned by the Jews, yet followed the Savior everywhere with such burning zeal that when Christ took the road for Jerusalem to offer himself for those who were going to kill him, Thomas said to the other disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him (John 11:16).
When the Savior of the world had overcome death by rising from the tomb, He appeared to his disciples who were assembled with the doors shut for fear of the Jews; He showed them the marks of his Passion upon his body, and the disciples were filled with joy. God so provided that Thomas was not then with them and, when the others told him they had seen the Lord risen from the dead, he was unwilling to believe them. In his great patience and forbearance, the Lord appeared again to his disciples a week later, and asked Thomas to certify that He was well and truly risen from the dead in the flesh; He told him to put his finger into the holes in his hands left by the nails and to thrust his hand into his side pierced by the spear. In admonishing Thomas for his lack of faith, the Savior showed that we too are called upon to thrust our hands into his side, not physically but spiritually, to quench our thirst there at the well-spring of grace (cf. John 20:19-29).
Thomas was with the other Apostles when, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came down upon their heads in the form of tongues of fire. He was filled, like the rest, with the power from on High for the proclamation of the world’s Salvation; and, when the Apostles went their separate ways, it fell to Thomas to bring the Glad Tidings to the distant lands of the Medes and Parthians (Iran), and as far as India.
Orthodox Christian Celebration of the Feast of Saint Thomas
The feast and commemoration of Saint Thomas is celebrated with the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom which is conducted on the morning of the feast and preceded by a Matins (Orthros) service. A Great Vespers may be conducted on the evening before the day of the Feast.
Scripture readings for the feast are the following: At the Divine Liturgy: I Corinthians 4:9-16; John 20: 19-31. (If the feast falls on a Sunday the Gospel readings may vary.)
Hymns of the Feast
Apolytikion (Third Tone)
O Holy Apostle Thomas, intercede with the merciful God that He grant unto our souls forgiveness of offences.
Kontakion (Fourth Tone)
Christ's Apostle, who was filled with God's divine grace, he who was His genuine and faithful servant in all truth, all-lauded Thomas exclaimed aloud in deep repentance: Thou art both my God and Lord.
ResourcesAdapted from The Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church, Vol. 1, compiled by Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra and translated from the French by Christopher Hookway (Chalkidike, Greece: Holy Convent of the Annunciation of Our Lady, 1998) pp. 299-301.
Apolytikion and Kontakion courtesy of Holy Transfiguration Monastery.