St Thomas is said to have sought refuge from persecution in the Little Mount Caves, 8km south of the city centre. Entrance to the caves is beside steps leading to a statue of Our Lady of Good Health. Inside, next to a small natural window in the rock, are impressions of what are believed to be St Thomas’ handprints, created when he made his escape through this tiny opening. Behind the new circular church of Our Lady of Good Health is a natural spring. Tradition has it that this was created when Thomas struck the rock, so the crowds that came to hear him preach could quench their thirst; samples of its holy water are on sale.
It’s said that St Thomas was speared to death while praying before a stone cross on St Thomas Mount, 11km south of the city centre. Our Lady of Expectation Church (1523), at the summit of the Mount, can be reached by 134 granite steps marked with the fourteen stations of the Cross, or by a road which curls its way to the top, where a huge old banyan tree provides shade for devotees who come to fast, pray and sing. Inside the church, St Thomas’ cross is rumoured to have bled in 1558, while the altar is said to mark the exact spot of the apostle’s death; the painting of the Madonna and Child above the altar is attributed to St Luke.