St.PETER'S GROTTO (Antioch - Antakya)

Antioch, known as Antakya today, is located near the Iskenderun Bay in the southern-most part of Turkey.

This ancient city has an important place in Christian history. After the stoning of Stephen in Jerusalem (Acts 7) in 33 A.D. many of Jesus' followrs went to Antioch. Nicholas of Antioch, a recent convert to Judaism and then to Christianity, became one of "seven men of good reputation" (Acts 6:3-5) and took charge of the communal body of believers. In 40 A.D., with so many new followers, group needed a name to distinguish itself from the others and adopted the name "Christian" for the first time in history.

Seleucus Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, was given the control of the city, gave his father's name Antiochus, to the city in 301 B.C.

During the time of Paul and Barnabas, there was a large Greek speaking Jewish community in Antioch. The Christian community of Antioch was not as conservative as the one in Jerusalem. That is why Christianity was spread out to the world from Antioch rather than Jerusalem.

Paul and Barnabas struggled to wellcome everyone into Christianity not only the Jews (Acts 15:1).

Paul started his missionary journeys from Antioch. Crusaders discovered a grotto to the east of the city, known as St.Peter's Grotto. There are some other hidden churches and buildings found from the same era, believed to be used by early Christians for secret meetings.

Antioch became host to ten assemblies of the church between 252 and 300 A.D. The Patriarch of Asia, St.Jerome settled in the city. St.Simeon Stylites lived in the area until his death in 459 A.D. and he was buried in Antioch.

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