Although many of the present-day Christians embraced the religion in recent times, Christians came to this land in its earliest phase. Tradition has it that the Syrian Christians of South India were converted by Thomas Didymus, one of the twelve apostles of Christ. He is believed to have come to the Malabar coast about 50 AD and established seven churches in South India, where traditions of the ancient church are still preserved.
The Roman Catholicism in India owes a great deal to St. Francis Xavier, a Jesuit missionary who came to India in the middle of the 16th century.
It often surprises foreign visitors to discover that Christianity is as much a part of the Indian scene as the temples and tigers they read about. In parts of the country Christian churches are more typical features of the landscape than temples or mosques, and Christmas is as popular a festival among non-Christians as among the Christians. Similarly, the great Hindu and Muslim festivals have become part of the Indian Christian way of life.