Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση
[graphic]
[blocks in formation]

Apostolic Footprints in Europe.-Notes of a visit

to Rome and Southern Italy.

Next to Jerusalem, the “ City of our God," whose' - name will ever occupy the most prominent place in history, the attraction and - sympathy of men must be drawn towards Rome-the Eternal City, as her children have somewhat' ostentatiously designated her“-which, seated on her seven hills, 'once reigned as “ Mistress of the World.” Her foundations were laid about the time that Pekah ruled in Samaria, and Ahaz governed Judea, and within a few years from the self-immolation of Sardanapalus at Nineveho; that is, about seven centuries and a half before the Christian era.' Shë passed through the usual vicissitudes attendant upon the establishment of a new kingdom ; the phases of her political life successively assuming the regal, the consular, and the imperial form. After the lapse of seven hundred years, and through the alternations of victory and defeat, prosperity and disaster, she at length, about the time of the birth of Christ, reached the height of her glory; and the Cæsars swayed an undisputed sceptre over all the lands whither their legions had borne their invincible eagles. By degrees the city extended itself from the Palatine hill, where Romulus and Remus laid its first foundations, until it embraced in its walls six other eminences-none of them very lofty, nor of any great extent. Within the space enclosed by these seven hills, and upon them, stood the almost matchless glories of ancient Rome, now represented by ruins which have been the admiration of millions; who have come hither from all parts of the civilized world, to indulge in reveries on the past, and to muse on the mutability of earthly greatness, on spots where the very dust is eloquent; and arches and pillars, temples, palaces, and tombs-hoary with age, and where the grass waves mournfully in the winds that come

[merged small][ocr errors]

sighing over the desolate Campagna-still proclaim the architectural grandeur in which they once existed. We have to follow the footsteps of one whose first visit to that city was when it gleamed in the full flush of imperial splendour.

“ She had her triumphs then,

Purpling the street;
Princes and sceptred men

Bowed at her feet."

“Thou must bear witness also at Rome." In such words, amidst the shadows and silence of the night, while Paul sought his hard couch in the castle at Jerusalem, was the will of his Divine Master made known to him. Thither, after three months' sojourn in the island where they had been so remarkably preserved in the shipwreck, did the Apostle and his companions direct their course. The usual route from Malta to Italy was across the deep blue waters of the Mare Siculum, and coasting along the eastern shores of the beautiful island from which that part of the Mediterranean takes its name. At Syracuse, which was then its capital, Paul landed, and remained for the space of three days. From this city they crossed over to Rhegium, having Mount Etna in sight all the distance; the most interesting as well as the most magnificent object in Sicily, with a circumference of eighty-seven miles, and towering in height nearly 11,000 feet above the level of the sea. After leaving Rhegium, with a favourable wind, the voyagers had to pass the celebrated Charybdis, in the Straits of Messina, not far from the entrance to the harbour of the city of that name. This danger passed, as well as the rocks of Scylla, on the Calabrian coast, which, with the whirlpool, were the terror of the mariner in those seas, the Apostle sailed towards Puteoli. A night and a day sufficed for the voyage to that port, where he was to disembark. Towards evening they entered the lovely Bay of Neapolis (the modern Naples), passing between the promontory of Minerva, on the mainland, and the island of Capri; and all the exquisite beauty of the scenery for which that locality is renowned burst upon his view, overarched by the azure sky which is so characteristic of that delicious clime, and lighted up with the declining sun, that tinged mountain and city and shore with a golden radiance, that made the waters of the sea gleam like a polished mirror. Vesuvius was in sight, with its thin sulphurous column rising ominously above the crater; its sides covered with vineyards and olive trees, with white houses peeping out of the green foliage, as if unsuspicious of the neighbouring peril; while at its feet lay Pompeii

, in all the pride and luxury and effeminacy of a degenerate race and age, little dreaming of the catastrophe which was about to overwhelm it in a destruction the most awful on record, save that of the Cities of the Plain. Within two years of Paul's arrival in Italy, which was A.D. 61,—the news must have reached Rome while he was dwelling in his own hired house, -Pompeii was nearly destroyed by an earthquake; but it rose again, rapidly, from its ruins, more splendid than ever, until the time of the memorable eruption of Vesuvius in August 79, when showers of stones, cinders, and mud from the bowels of the burning mountain, entirely overwhelmed it. Subsequent eruptions tended more thoroughly to entomb the place, which for nearly seventeen centuries lay hidden from the light of day. But in 1765 the excavations commenced, which have been continued, with more or less interruption, to this time; and one of the most curious and interesting sights in Italy, to the visitors of that land of natural and artificial marvels, is the disinterred Pompeii.

Puteoli, which derived its Latin name from the hot mineral springs in the neighbourhood, is eight miles from the city of Naples. It had a harbour, defended by a mole, whose ruins are still visible ; and here, to avoid any further dangers of the sea, especially those feared in passing the Circean promontory, travellers for Rome began their landward journey. Seven days did the Apostle remain at this place, refreshed by the company and counsel of Christian brethren, whose greetings, when he first stepped on the Italian shore, would surely be regarded by him as an omen for good. If the modern road from Naples to Rome is the same with that which Paul traversed, then his course would lie through Capua, which proved so fatal to Hannibal after the battle of Cannæ ; and thence to Terracina, near which is the boundary between the Neapolitan portion of the kingdom of Victor Emmanuel and the States of the Church; and where palm trees, wild aloes, and prickly pears would whisper to the traveller of the land he had left. Then began the long, dreary journey across the Pontine Marshes, by a road that runs in a perfectly straight course for twenty miles. A canal was seen by its side a great part of the way, with acacias growing on its banks. Buffaloes fed on the coarse grass of the marshes, that stretched on the right up to the Volscian mountains, and on the left towards the sea. Here Paul received the cordial welcome of the brethren from Rome, who had had sufficient time given them, by his short stay at Puteoli, to hear of his arrival in Italy, and to go forth to Appii Forum to meet him; as did others at the Three Taverns, a place nearer Rome. How the sight of these friends of himself and Christ cheered him, we know; for though there was an utter uncertainty about the future that was awaiting him in the Imperial City, yet, believing that the brethren had been sent by the Master to gladden his spirit, he “thanked God and took courage." Probably the company of the soldiers vexed his righteous spirit, and made him sigh for Christian communion. He had said in his letter to the Church at Rome, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all," and now still more emphatically could be repeat the words.

When he reached the summit of the hill on which stands the town of Albano, Paul would catch the first view of Rome, lying in the midst of the Campagna, with Soracte in the background; the line of the

ሂ Z 2

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »