Thomas was born in Tolentino in the March of Ancona within the Papal States around 1250 to 1260. He became a Franciscan early in life and developed a reputation for strict adherence to its rule, particularly concerning the vow of poverty. A fellow of St Nicholas of Tolentino and one of Angelo da Clareno‘s Spiritual Franciscans, Thomas was jailed twice for his excessive condemnation of luxury.

After his release, Thomas traveled with Angelo da Clareno, Marco da MonteluponePietro da Macerata, and Angelo da Tolentino to mission in Lesser Armenia in 1289. In 1291, King Haython II directed him to return to the courts of Rome, Paris, and London to seek help against his Muslim foes. His efforts to raise a new crusade failed so he returned east in order to gain more missionaries. In 1302 he returned with twelve companions who worked in Armenia and Persia. Thomas participated in the Council of Sis that reunited the Armenian and Roman Catholic churches in 1307.

He then traveled again to Rome to deliver two letters from John of Montecorvino. While there, he addressed a public consistory of the pope and cardinals, praising John’s work in China and asking for assistance in developing his mission. He also discussed the matter with Clement V at Poitiers in 1308, after which an ecclesiastical hierarchy was established for the Roman Catholics in China. There seems to be a gap between 1308 and 1320 as to Thomas’ whereabouts.

In 1320, Thomas left Hormuz with his fellow Franciscans Bl. James of Padua and Peter of Siena, the Dominican Jordan of Severac, and the layman Demetrio da Tifliz.They were forced to land at Thane on the island of Salsette Island near Mumbai in India because of a storm. While en route they were greeted by local Christians of the Church of the East. Jordan left them to preach at Bharuch, reaching Sopara before he heard Demetrius and the Franciscans had been arrested. The family with whom they were staying had fallen into a quarrel and the husband had beaten his wife. When she went to the qadi to report this abuse, she mentioned the four clerics were witnesses and they were called before him. Thomas, James, and Demetrius had gone to the court while Peter remained behind to look after their things. Having begun a discussion of religion, the qadi had asked them their opinion of Muhammad and Thomas replied bluntly he was “the son of perdition and had his place in Hell with the Devil his father”. At this, the Muslims around the court called for their death for blasphemy. It was said they were scourged and tortured before their execution by beheading on April 8, 1321. Three days later Peter was killed.

Thomas’s sect was approved by Pius VII in 1809 and again by Leo XIII in 1894. He is venerated as a saint, sometimes together with his companions as the Four Martyrs of Thane, on April 9.

Bibliography

ALSO ON THIS DAY

1546 – The Council of Trent adopts Jerome’s eleven-hundred-year-old Latin translation of the Bible (the Vulgate) as the only authentic Latin text of the Scriptures although reformers have long complained that Jerome’s Latin translation is faulty. 

1669 – Turkish Muslims on the island of Kos burn to death John Naukliros, accusing him of recanting from Islam. He responds, “I believe with all my soul and heart in my Lord Jesus Christ and I confess him as true God Who will judge all the world, both the living and the dead.” He tells his persecutors that he despises Islam and is prepared even to endure torture for the love of Christ.

1857 – A small group of Dutch immigrants meet in Zeeland, Michigan, to organize the first Christian Reformed Church.

1901James Chalmers and his associates are clubbed to death and eaten while visiting the Fly River in New Guinea.

2012 – On Easter morning in Kaduna, Nigeria, a car bomb, apparently targeting the All Nations Christian Assembly Church, kills dozens of Nigerians in the street outside the place of worship.

Accessed ChristianHistoryInstitute.org and Rhemalogy.com 06 April 2022.

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