Join Chris & Emilee, Walk the Steps of Paul in Italy

Written by Chris Danielson on .


Download the brochure here.

For more information on the tour, you can also visit the Maranatha Tours: Italy with Chris and Emilee page.

DAY 1 – Saturday, April 06, 2013
Tour members are welcomed at O’Hare International Airport for our departing flight to Rome via wide-body aircraft arriving the next day. Meals served on board.

DAY 2 – Sunday, April 07, 2013
You will arrive at the Fiumicino Airport, where we will be met and escorted to Ostia Antica. Located at the mouth of the Tiber River, Ostia was the main commercial port for the Romans of the 4th century BC. This will be our first glimpse into the ancient Roman world of the Apostles.

In many ways, Ostia was at the heart of Rome. A place where a diversity of ethnic groups and cultures converged, each leaving its mark on this cosmopolitan city. Among the more notable temples there are Mithra (Persian), Cybele (Phrygia), Iside (Egyptian) and even a synagogue, demonstrating the Jewish presence as well.

After our exploration in Ostia, we will travel south, passing near Via Appia (Appian Way) and the Via Latina. These are two of the ancient Roman passageways that kept goods, services, and the Roman soldiers moving from the south of Italy to the eastern world (from Brindisi). Via Appia was called the “Queen of Roads”. Engineered in the 5th century BC, it was the widest and largest road of its time and a forerunner to our modern superhighways. This was the roadway which Paul would make several journeys.

Acts 28 records that after Paul arrived in Petuoli, People came to and encourage him in the markets associated with this roadway. “And the brethren, when they heard about us, came from there as far as the Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet us…..” Acts 28:15

We will arrive at the Bay of Naples where Paul first entered the mainland of the peninsula.
“…From there we sailed around and arrived at Rhegium, and a day later a south wind
sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli.” Acts 28:13. The writer of the book of Acts recalls twice “and thus we came to Rome” in verse 14, and then again later in verse 16 “When we entered Rome…”. While the harbor felt like a distinct entry point into Rome, the actual city was still days away on foot.

As we close our first day, we will take a break to taste a real Napolitano coffee or a pizza before returning to the hotel for dinner and overnight in Naples.

DAY 3 – Monday, April 08, 2013
After breakfast, we will depart for Pompeii. Less than an hour away, we will be joined by local guides to have an archeological journey through the ancient city. Buried under a layer of ash and pyroclastic flow by the sudden eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE, the city has been revealed anew after 1700 years of dormancy. This is our best window into daily life of the Imperial Age as the city has been substantially preserved.

People who walked these streets were the generation of the early apostles. Paul’s message had reached there long before the destruction (with occurred twelve years after Paul’s execution). However, the activities of Vesuvius were already beginning to cause disturbances during Paul’s lifetime. Most scholars believe he arrived in 62 CE, and later that year, while Paul awaited his first appearance before Nero an earthquake (a subduction in the Bay of Naples) caused a tsunami with a tidal wave that swamped the ships at Ostia harbor, ruining as much as one third of the Alexandrian grain. Coins were minted to show the people that all was well in spite of the disaster, but Nero must have found himself scrambling to meet the needs of the people for bread in that year.

Paul walked many a Roman city much like Pompeii, and the imagery of the Epistles to those cities is nowhere more easily pictured. We will visit houses, shops, temples, squares, streets and even some of the darker quarters of the city, such as the “Lupanare” (house of prostitutes) and the “Suburbane Thermae“ (with its graphic frescos). “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions…” Romans 1:26

We will then make our way north to to the ruins of Minturno. Though less impressive than Pompeii, the open plan of the site, together with the lack of other crowds will allow us to both see the town and talk about the implications of understanding the setting and people of these suburban areas to the ministry of Paul and the Apostles. “… when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.” Acts 28:15

We will overnight in nearby Foro Appio in the “Mansio Hotel” located in the same place as an ancient Roman “posta” (place where travelers could rest and change their tired horses before continuing their journey) once stood. A mansio (from Latin word manere “to remain” or “to stay”) was an official stopping place along a Roman road maintained by the central government for the use of officials and those on official business whilst traveling. In such a place, Paul could have hosted the early believers and drawn some encouragement. Our evening will include a unique experience with a dinner based on very traditional ancient Roman cuisine. The tastes we will enjoy that particular evening would have been very similar to the foods Paul would have eaten along his journey.

DAY 4 – Tuesday, April 09, 2013
After a hearty breakfast, we will depart Foro Appio and make our way to the Eternal City. Following some of the high points of Roman history, we will address “how Romans told their story” in “Pompa Processions” and architecture like that of Emperor Trajan’s Column, a jewel of architecture and sculpture made by Apollodorus of Damascus. We will walk along the Via dei Fori Imperiali and observe the ruins of the Imperial center of Rome.

Other important edifices, like the Forum of Trajan, the biggest and most splendid of markets of its time, became the forerunners of our modern malls and commercial complexes. They offered to the Roman citizen the full array of goods of the Roman world. We will continue on to the Capitoline Hill, the former political and religious center of the town, which today is the seat of the Municipality of Rome. The stairway will open to the Piazza del Campidoglio, a magnificent result of a project by Michelangelo, built around a copy of the most famous equestrian statue in the world, that of the stoic Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Behind Piazza del Campidoglio a natural terrace will offer us the best panoramic view of the valley of the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. Our visit to the Roman Forum and especially the Curia (seat of the Roman Senate), the palaces of justice, temple of Vesta, and the House of the Vestals will help us recall the images of Imperial Rome. From the Forum we will venture to the Palatine, (from which we get the term “palace” today). Here the mythical Romulus founded the town in the year 753 BCE. And later Augustus located the home of the Principate (each adding his own special flare to the complex). Our visit to the Arch of Constantine, will remind us of the victory of the emperor over Maxentius in the C4th century CE that gave rise to the legalization and later adoption of Christianity. Our visit to the city center will end at the Colosseum, an everlasting symbol of the greatness of Rome and the stage for the historical fights of the gladiators. After a break for lunch, we will visit the Basilica of San Clemente where a pagan Mithraeum was later transformed into the place of a house church, and finally a basilica. The fourth century church was reconstructed in the twelfth century, and the beautify and art survives from that time. Clement was an early Roman convert to Christ, and we will take this opportunity to talk about the people that were responding to the first wave of the Gospel in Rome. From the time of the first Princeps (the ancient term for Emperor) Augustus was deified by the Senate of Rome. Cults abounded, and early believers faced an inclusive crowd that resisted the idea of only one true God. The Romans.. “…worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…” Romans 1:25. We will be reminded of the early companions of Paul, traveling to the Aventine Hill to the traditional home of Priscillla and Aquila, (based on a C5th CE document) now located below the Church of Santa Prisca. “Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; also greet the church that is in their house.” Romans 16:3-5 After our visit, we will make our way to our Rome Hotel for dinner and a night’s rest.

DAY 5 – Wednesday, April 10, 2013
With yesterday’s sketch of the Roman world and its imperial center in mind, we continue following the steps of St. Paul, recalling both his first and second visits to the city, as well as setting the execution in both geography and history. We will begin our visit to the Insula di San Paolo alla Regola, an important possible place for Paul’s first visit and house arrest in about 62 CE. Paul, waiting to be given Imperial audience to plead his case to Caesar,and was apparently later released. Paul’s references in the Epistle to the Romans remind us of the warmth he felt toward the underground Christian movement in the city: “…Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first convert to Christ from Asia. 6 Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. … Greet those of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord. Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord. Greet Persis the beloved, who has worked hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine. …Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you…” Romans 16:5-16 Paul no doubt lived in one of the places inhabited by the Jews, near the River Tiber, in what was considered the fourteenth district of the city as divided by Augustus about 80 years before Paul’s visit. Recent archaeological excavations in this area yielded evidence of stores of grain (horreum). A second-century document references the early belief that “Paul took a rented horreum” where he could likely invite, teach and comfort the small but growing Christian community. The area shows some evidence of the tanning industry, and we recall that Paul was a heavy cloth worker. The later name of “Contrada Pauli” (Paul’s district) may be reminiscent of Paul’s original waiting house, where much later in 366 CE, at the beginning of the term of Pope Damasus, he had a church built over the ruins of the older homes and dedicated it to Paul. From the possible site of Paul’s outreach we will travel to the “Abbey of the Three Fountains” – the place of Paul’s martyrdom. There are only a few early accounts of Paul’s martyrdom that remain for us to compare. He was apparently beheaded by the Romans, under Nero, in the early spring of 68 CE. Nero himself died by suicide on June 9th of the same year. Yet, we must acknowledge that other records suggest that he was killed while Nero was yet away in Greece, and the order was that of the prefects of the city. He may, in this case, have been executed as early as February 22 at Aquae Salviae, three miles from Rome. Clement later wrote: “Owing to envy and discord, Paul was obligated to show us how to obtain the prize of patience. Arrested seven times, exiled, stoned, he was the herald of Christ in the East and in the West, and for his faith, obtained a pure glory. After having preached justice in the whole world, and after having arrived to the corners of the West, he accepted martyrdom before the governors; thus he parted from this world and arrived to the holy place, thereby converted into the greatest model of patience”. Eusebius later related: “I can show you the trophies of the apostles: If you go to the Vatican or the Via Ostiense, there you will find the trophies of the founders of the Church” (Hist. Eccl. 2,25,6-7). Eusebius’ “trophies” are the burial monuments of the Vatican (for St. Peter) and in the Basilica of “St. Paul Outside the Walls” on the Via Ostiense, where we will journey next. Our journey to ST PAUL OUTSIDE THE WALLS will take us to the resting place for the body of Paul. After recalling the work of the Apostle Paul, we will continue. The church continued, and many other believers suffered and died before Christianity became legally recognized. In 300 CE, one could be executed for being a follower of Jesus. By 400 CE, one could be in similar troubles if you were NOT a Christian. We continue to travel the northern end of the ancient Via Appia, to visit the Catacombs of Santa Domitilla. Early Christian art and history are preserved below ground at these early burial and memorial places, with some markings suggesting celebration of the anniversaries of Christian martyrs (following similar Roman customs). Paul was not the only Apostle of the early church associated with Rome. Peter was martyred there (remembered at Vatican hill), and the memory of the impact of the Apostle John’s lasting ministry before and after his apparent arrest and exile to Patmos by Emperor Domitian also has its place. We will board our bus and continue our Roman visit at Basilica of San John di Lateran, which became among the most important Christians Churches of Rome. When Constantine opened the Roman world to Christianity, his apparent conversion was symbolized by the donation of a significant family property for the Basilica. The important Lateran Baptistery reminds us of the many early converts to the faith, and the process of moving it from a rogue influence to a sponsored and ordered faith. Return to hotel for dinner and overnight.

DAY 6 – Thursday, April 11, 2013
We start at the Vatican Museum. Passing through the Court of the Pigna, designed by Bramante in the 16th century, you will enter the Belvedere Palace to reach the heart of the museum, the Belvedere Courtyard, reach the Greek Cross Room where the splendid Sarcophagi of St. Helene and St. Constance are housed. Continue to the Galleries of the Candelabra, the Maps and the Tapestries you will reach the Apostolic Palace on to the Apartments of Julius II, splendidly decorated by Raphael the Sistine Chapel, where you will admire one of the highest masterpieces of art by Michelangelo. Go to the Basilica of St. Peter, which gathers 2000 years of history and famous works of art such as the Pietŕ by Michelangelo. The visit ends at St. Peter’s Square, which is embraced by the colonnade and “Cuppolone”, as the Romans call Michelangelo’s dome. This afternoon visit two of the most important Churches of Rome…San John di Lateran and the Holy Cross of Jerusalem. Visit also the Santa Scala, the Holy Steps, which are reputed to be the steps that Christ went up when he was called for a meeting with Pontius Pilate. Return to hotel for dinner and overnight.

DAY 7 – Friday, April 12, 2013
We will be taken to the airport for our flight home. We will cherish the memories of Paul the Apostles life that changed the course of man.

From Chris and Emilee,

We are excited to welcome you on this one of a kind trip to walk in the footsteps of Paul. Unlike other tours, not only will you experience the rich history and culture of Italy, see the world renowned sights people dream of visiting, but we strongly encourage you to let this be a journey of worship for you. The words Paul spoke and the life Paul lived are as relevant to us today as they were to the people of ancient Rome. Our hope is that as you learn more about Paul, Rome, and the early believers, you will be moved to deeper understanding God’s great love for us, and amazing work He has done and continues through the lives of believers today.