Christians share together basic beliefs which are enshrined in the Bible and in some early texts written by Christian leaders. At the root of all Christian tenets lies the 'Law of Love' according to the command of Christ himself ’Love one another as I have loved you'.
'Eucharist' meaning 'thanks giving service' (Holy Mass) is offered by the priest, in the church, everyday. It is a must for all Christians to attend a mass on every Sunday. In this religious observance the Christians recall with gratitude the supper which Christ had with his disciples on the preceding night of his crucification.
At present there are about 25 million Christians in India. It is interesting to note that the Christian population in India is more than the entire population of Australia and New Zealand or total population of a number of countries in Europe. Kerala, Goa and Mizoram states have high concentration of Christian population in India. Kerala has the largest number of Christians among the states. Christians including Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants form the third largest group in India.
About 73% of the Christians in India are Catholics. The Catholic Church in India is composed of three individual Churches- Latin, Malabar and Malankara. Christian community includes Syrian Christians, Knanaya Christians, Goan Christians, Tamil Christians, Anglo-Indians, and Naga Christians etc. All these Christian communities differ in language, social customs and economic status.
Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea in 4.B.C. Until he was 30, Jesus lived in Nazareth as an ordinary carpenter. Then he plugged into a very active public life for about three years. During these years he preached that God is a loving and merciful Father. Jesus insisted only on the necessity of showing our love towards God through loving our fellowmen without any distinction or reservation. He was the setting example for his own preaching. He treated both the sinner and the saint with the utmost love and respect. Jesus became a revolutionary figure among the Jewish religious leaders. They presented Gods as being always demanding, angry and ready to punish. They forced the ruling Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate to crucify and kill Jesus.
But the life of the Jesus did not end with his death on the cross. He rose from the tomb on the third day, thus proclaiming to the world the hope of universal resurrection after death. His disciples realized that Jesus was not an ordinary man, but the "Son of God" who really became man, in order to announce to the world, Gods love and concern for human race. He wanted to bring peace on earth. He strengthened his Apostles with the help of the Holy spirit, to preach his teachings and spread the good news about God the loving father to the entire human race.
The Bible :
Bible, the holy book of the Christians has two parts, namely "The Old Testament" and "The New Testament". The old Testament presents Gods dealing with men before Christ and gives the history of the Jewish people roughly for a period of 2000 years before Christ. The New Testament records the life and preaching of Jesus, his death and resurrection, the growth of Christianity in its early years and the message of the Apostles sent to various churches.
Bible is considered as the holy book of Christians because it is believed that bible was written under the guidance and inspiration of God. The Bible has a collection of 73 books. In 'The Old Testament' 46 books and in 'The New Testament' 27 books.
Christian Pilgrimage in India :
Christianity has a long relation with India. Christianity was introduced in India by St. Thomas or Doubting Thomas in 52 AD. St. Thomas had spent 12 years of his life in Madras Since then various shrines, churches; cathedrals have been constructed that have turned out to be the sites of Christian pilgrimage in India. . St. Thomas established seven Churches at: Kodungallur, Kottakkavu, Palayur, Kollam, Kokkamangalam, Niranam and Chayil.
Pilgrim Centers :
India has some of the best-known Christian pilgrimage sites. The interesting thing about the Indian Churches is that, they reflect distinct archaeological designs. Here one can see Churches in British style, Portuguese style, and French style and of late many Churches according to Indian style were also constructed.
Some of the Christian pilgrimages are :
Basilica The Church of St. Cajetan (Goa), Church of the Sacred Heart (Delhi), St. Thomas Cathedral at Mylapore in Madras where the grave of Apostle St. Thomas is venerated; St. Xavier's shrine at Bom Jesus Church at old Goa; the Church of Our Lady of Mount at Bandra, near Bombay; the Church of Our Lady of Health at Vailankanni on the coastal line east of Tanjavur in Tamil Nadu; the Church of Our Lady at Sardhana near Meerut in western Uttar Pradesh, the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary at Bandel, in north of Calcutta; the shrine of St. Xavier at Kottar just north of Kaniyakumari; the Shrine of St. Theresa of Avila at Mahe, close to Tellicherry in North Kerala; at Oriyur in Ramnad district. In the Orthodox church of Manarkad near Kottayam, Mary's feast is celebrated on September 8 by St. Thomas Christians.