Saint Thomas Mount in the Malayattor mountains, Kerala, where Saint Thomas the Apostle is said to have prayed and meditated, celebrated its new status of International Shrine on Sunday, with a special Mass. During the Mass, the Papal Nuncio in India, Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, read out the official declaration issued by the Holy See. In May last year the shrine, which attracts as many as three million pilgrims a year from many parts of the world, was declared an 'International Shrine' by the Holy See's Congregation for the Oriental Churches. The announcement was received with great joy by Indian Christians. Catholics in India follow three different rites: Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankar and Latin. In Kerala most Catholics follow the Syro-Malabar rite which stems from the Chaldean rite. These Catholics are descendants of the first Christians in India who heard the message of Christ from the Apostle Thomas in 40 AD. The Mass was presided by Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, Archbishop Major of Ernakulam-Angamaly. Among those present, besides thousands of local Catholics and members of Catholic associations and religious orders, were representatives of other Christian Churches and the civil authorities. Source: Fides
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