Peter: fisherman and founder

And Finally, Rome

After journeys to Corinth and Asia Minor, Peter finally traveled to Rome itself, the capital of the western world. There his life was to end with a brave profession of faith.

NeroOver a million people lived in the crowded city when Peter, probably then an old man, arrived in Rome in the middle of the first century. About 60,000 of them were Jews, most of them living in the section across the Tiber River. Some were merchants, powerfully influential at the imperial court; some were slaves, brought to the city as part of the spoils of war. (ancient bust of Nero, at right)

The Jews of Rome always maintained close relations with Jerusalem and their homeland, and so travelers passed frequently from one city to the other. Certainly, Jewish Christians were already living in the city by 50 A.D., and they must have invited the apostle to come to the capital city.

Besides Jewish Christians , perhaps Romans from Capernaum or Caesarea returned to their own country were there to welcome him.

After his arrival, Peter most likely spoke in the synagogues of the city; but his activity in Rome was to be short-lived. A major tragedy brought it to an end.

Rome burning
Rome burning

In the year 64 a terrible fire broke out in Rome near the Jewish quarter. For seven days the city burned until almost all its buildings were destroyed.

Some say that Nero, the cruel, half-mad emperor then in power, started the fire himself and watched it from a nearby hill, playing a lyre and singing sad songs all the while. To take the blame away from himself, Nero accused the Christians of starting the fire.

Almost two thousand Christians were arrested and cruelly executed, some given to wild animals to be eaten, some crucified, some smeared with pitch and burned alive as torches near the emperor's gardens by the Vatican hill.

"Where are you going, Lord?"



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