Wednesday, March 18, 2009

On to Antioch and Tarsus, birthplace of Paul

On Monday March 9th we docked at Mersin, Turkey, around 7 a.m., boarded our buses with box lunches, and then reboarded the ship at Iskenderun, Turkey. For this visit, see Acts 11:19-26, Acts 13-18, and Acts 22:3.

Here I am at St. Paul's house in Tarsus, which is under glass. Tarsus was the most important commercial port in Cilicia, and according to an internet site a few decades before Christ, the Romans granted it the status of a free city with certain privileges. How clever of God to chose a Jew and a Roman citizen to spread the faith. We gathered in a public square near by for another performance by our Greek actor playing Paul.

Here's my husband at St. Paul's Well, in a courtyard believed to be the site of his house (these are approximate, but how far could we be?) And now we've walked where millions of Christians have come over the years.

Tradition says that these caves were the homes of early Christians. Our guide (a Muslim) told us The Cave Church of St. Peter is the very first Christian church, and this is where Christians were first called by this name (Acts 11:26). It is located just outside Antioch (modern Antakya) Turkey, the base of many of Paul's missionary journeys and probably where the Gospel of Matthew was written.

Worship services are still held here on certain holy days.

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