Deeper into Jeopardy! XXVI: National Patron Saints – $800

Jeopardy! category: NATIONAL PATRON SAINTS (25-09-2014)

$800 clue: St. Thomas is the patron of this country where tradition says he was martyred in Madras

Correct response

The gist: Chennai, the city formerly known as Madras, has the San Thome Cathedral, built over its namesake’s supposed tomb. According to the New Testament apocrypha (particularly the Acts of Thomas), St. Thomas, one of Jesus’ apostles, is supposed to have made it all the way to India in order to preach Christianity there, way back in the first century CE. After Jesus’ resurrection, he instructed his remaining eleven apostles (Judas Iscariot was out of the picture by then) – so Paul went to Turkey and later to Rome, Philip to North Africa, Thomas to the Baltic region, and so forth. Thomas was apparently none too thrilled about his assignment, and only left after some compelling “arrangements” were made by God so that it would have been more trouble for Thomas to hang around the Mediterranean than to head east. As Christian tradition holds, he supposedly enjoyed a great deal of success, including converting the kings Gondophares and Vasudeva I. Unfortunately, he was eventually killed in Madras, either by angry or misguided local religious leaders, or during a hunting accident, or by soldiers, or many years later of natural causes. Whatever the case, Chennai Christians continue to claim San Thome as his burial place, and as a result St. Thomas continues to preside over India as its patron. The San Thome Cathedral itself was first constructed by Portuguese explorers and merchants in the 16th century. It took its modern form in 1893 when it was rebuilt in Neo-Gothic style by the British, and was made a Basilica by Pope Pius XII in 1956. The Saint Thomas Christians, also known as Nasrani, are an Indian Catholic community in Kerala, India, that trace their origins to Thomas’ original mission.

San Thome Basilica, Chennai, India, looking very Neo-Gothic

The clue: Simply put, the clue wants to know if you know where Madras is – or was, since it’s usually known as Chennai today. Not much nuance to this one, unless you’re familiar with Thomas’ missionary work and later life, which I don’t think many people are.

In Jeopardy!: As you might expect, searching for “India” in the J!Archive gives an internal server error because of the sheer number of clues it’s been mentioned in. So what else can we look at? St. Thomas has only been in one other clue alongside India, also mentioning his martyrdom in Madras (and also his “doubting” nature). Madras itself is mentioned in 20 clues, usually concerning its history as an important commercial port – for example, the British East India Company’s major activities there (in two clues), or the textile that shares its name with the city (in nine). Since India is a very common subject in Jeopardy!, it seems like a good idea to at least have heard of Madras, seeing as it’s the country’s fourth largest city, and the principal city of the country’s south.


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