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Pisidian Antioch former Roman colony visited by St. Paul

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 9th, 2011
Catholic Online (

Pisidian Antioch, also called Antioch-of-Pisidia was a Roman colony that was visited by St. Paul on his First Missionary Journey. The city marked an important turning point in Paul's ministry, as the city became the first to have a fully Gentile Christian community.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The ruins of Pisidian Antioch lie about a mile north of the modern town of Yalvaç, 110 miles west of Konya. Highlights of a visit here are the substantial archaeological site and the Yalvaç Archaeological Museum.

According to Acts 13, Paul and Barnabas came to Pisidian Antioch early in their first journey. On the Sabbath, they went to the local synagogue and were invited to speak to the congregation.

Their message was received with enthusiasm, and on the following Sabbath "almost the whole city gathered" to hear them. Some converts were made, but some of the Jews stirred up opposition against them and they were driven out of the city.

A tour of Pisidian today begins at the Triple Gate, which dates from 212 AD. About 26 feet wide, this monumental gate was decorated with reliefs of kneeling captive soldiers, floral motifs, weapons and winged features on pedestals holding garlands. Near the top on the front and back were inscriptions in bronze letters, once a dedicatory inscription to Emperor Hadrian, the other an identification of the person who paid for the gate.

Inside the city walls, the site centers around two main streets, the Cardo and the Decumanus, positioned at right angles. The Decumanus Maximus leads from the Triple Gate to the intersection with the east-west Cardo. Along the way, on the visitor's left are the remains of what was probably a second agora followed by the theater.

The theater was built by the Greeks and enlarged by the Romans to a seating capacity of 15,000. Some argue that it may be the site of St. Thekla's martyrdom. Its construction is unique in containing a tunnel on its southern side through which the Decumanus Maximus passed. Thus part of the seating of the expanded theater was built right over the street.

Behind the colonnades along the street were small shops, bars and restaurants. Several game boards can be seen etched into the paving stones for playing various games of dice.

The Cardo terminated at the 1st-century AD nymphaeum, a fountain from which water was distributed to the whole city. Behind it, a 1st-century aqueduct brings water down from the hills to the city. To the northwest of the nymphaeum is the palaestra, or exercise area) and adjoining Roman bath. A large part of the bathhouse has survived and is still being excavated.

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