Greetings from Syracuse and Beyond

After his shipwreck on the shores of Malta, the Apostle Paul remained on that small island for three months, ministering to the father of Publius, “chief man of the island,” and many others.  He was then put on an Alexandrian vessel bound for Rome, but touched at Syracuse on the island of Sicily and “tarried there three days” (Acts 28:7-12).

Sicily is characterized by blazing summer heat.  There is little rain.  The sun beats down relentlessly.  Most of the island’s vegetation is brown and burnt looking.  But

Sicily in Spring

Sicily in Spring

in the spring, the time of our visit there, its hills and fields are green and flowering.

The city of Syracuse is rich in the history of Mediterranean civilization.  While there, we visited extensive archaeological remains.  During our visit to the ancient Greek theatre, a company of modern thespians was rehearsing one of the plays of Aeschylus, or Euripides, or Sophocles — I took the word of our Italian guide for this — I’m not really up on my Greek drama.DSC00537

Climbing just above the theatre, it was possible for us to get a view of the sea lane leading to the Straits of Messina and the city of Rhegium on the mainland of Italy. Paul’s ship spent a day at Rhegium, waiting for a good south wind to carry it on to Puteoli [on the Bay of Naples] (Acts 28:13).

Sea Lane to Rhegium

Sea Lane to Rhegium

Sailing north toward the Straits of Messina, over against Rhegium, Paul would surely have seen what is to this day one of the most arresting sights on the shores of the Mediterranean, the slopes of volcanic Mt. Etna.  I once saw Mt. Etna, just before sundown, from the bridge of a large cruise ship.  It was breathtaking.

Mt. Etna, 10,958 ft.

Mt. Etna, 10,958 ft.

  I doubt that the Apostle Paul took as much pleasure in the view from his ship as I did from mine.  To him it signaled the rapidly approaching end of a long and perilous journey to an even more perilous destination, Rome — and the “Caesar” to whom Paul had appealed for a hearing — Nero! (Acts 25:10-11).

This picture of Etna was taken from the balcony of our hill top hotel in the city of Taormina.  From the cliffs on the sea shore at Taormina, we were able to get an even better view (below) than we had at Syracuse of the sea lane through the Straits of Messina.  Paul’s vessel would ply these waters as it sailed to Rhegium, and onward to the Bay of Naples.  More to come,  DB

Taormina, toward Rhegium

Taormina, toward Rhegium

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