Catholic shrines in Chennai, India: the politics of renewal and apostolic legacy
This thesis investigates the phenomenon of Catholic renewal in India by focussing on various Roman Catholic churches and shrines located in Chennai, a large city in South India where activities concerning saintal revival and shrinal development have taken place in the recent past. The thesis tracks the changing local significance of St. Thomas the Apostle, who according to local legend, was martyred and buried in Chennai. In particular, it details the efforts of the Church hierarchy in Chennai to bring about a revival of devotion to St. Thomas. In doing this, it covers a wide range of issues pertinent to the study of contemporary Indian Christianity, such as Indian Catholic identity, Indian Christian indigeneity and Hindu nationalism, as well as the marketing of St. Thomas and Catholicism within South India. The thesis argues that the Roman Catholic renewal and "revival" of St. Thomas in Chennai is largely a Church-driven hierarchal movement that was specifically initiated for the purpose of Catholic evangelization and missionization in India. Furthermore, it is clear that the local Church‘s strategy of shrinal development and marketing encompasses Catholic parishes and shrines throughout Chennai‘s metropolitan area, and thus, is not just limited to those sites associated with St. Thomas‘s Apostolic legacy.