Wednesday, April 02, 2008

St Paul and Rome

This year I resolved to read the bible in its entirety, starting at both old and new Testament together. Yesterday I read, 2 Timothy 16-17,
'May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me.'
St Paul did not travel to Rome as a tourist, he was in chains, he was to appeal his arrest and imprisonment to Caesar himself. It was a hard and tortuous road to Rome. When I read that, I was compelled to go back to the Acts of the Apostles to reread the details of that fateful trip. Luke, the author of Acts of the Apostles was there with Paul. Many times throughout Acts Luke used the word, 'we'.
Acts 27:1, 'when it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius'. (This was no cruise ship.)
Acts 27:3, 'the next day we landed at Sidon.... from there we put out to sea again and passed to the lee of Cyprus...'
Acts 27:13, ' ... so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. (before they were shipwrecked.)
Acts 28:1, ' once safely on shore, we found out the island was called Malta.'
Acts 28:11,' after three months we put out to sea.... we put in at Syracuse (Sicily) and stayed there three days.'
Acts 28:24, ' and so we came to ROME.'
vs 16, ' when we got to ROME, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him'.
While many has deserted St Paul there were a few who were loyal. This fellow, Onisiphorus, happened to be in Rome at the same time as Paul. Paul was under house arrest. Maybe Onisiphorus knocked on many doors, looked among new arrivals from the Holy Land, followed every lead, walking the same cobbled labyrinths, as us tourists today, looking for a Christian prisoner.
The first visit to the Mamartine prison was a very emotional one for me. I was there again the last trip, it's about the few places which is not fenced in, the rest of the Forum is now fenced in because they want you to pay to see it. We looked from the outside, not wanting to pay.
Rome, the eternal city, city of Caesar, Nero, Constantine and so many others. Rome, the city where St Peter and St Paul met their deaths. Rome, the city, featured so prominently in our bible. I am deeply humbled. The Mamartine prison was purported to have held St Peter and St Paul.

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