How Many More Steps?

February 22, 2024

This is our first full day in Rome and we had a lot planned. The place we are staying at has a little grocery store across the street. We bought some basics to make ourselves a little breakfast. The fruit here is amazing and the chicken eggs are huge, with tiny bits of feathers still on them! I guess that’s as fresh as you can get it. After breakfast, we made our way down to the Coliseum, which is only about a 10-minute walk from where we are at. We met up with our tour guide, Marco, and about 12 other folks for the “British Flag” tour (English speaking). Marco guided us to the Roman Forum, the city center of ancient Rome. This was the political and commercial market hub of Rome. This is where Romans could buy anything - food, clothing, livestock, and of course - people (slaves). A practice that all these years later we still can’t get rid of. I thought about how in this human market the church would rise eventually leading to the end of commercial slavery in the Western world. But my heart still hurts knowing the black market of human trafficking is alive and well.

From there we made our way to Palatine Hill where the elite of Rome lived and played. There the Emperor lived in opulence with palaces beyond any size I’ve ever seen. He had his own personal temple where he can worship a god that no one else was allowed to, and his own personal circus (think race track and arena) for gladiator games to entertain just himself and his guests. But all of it is now in ruble and as our tour guide was showing and explaining all of this to us, my eye caught the glimpse of a small green lizard running between the cracks of the giant stones that held this place together, but now the mortar has decayed leaving a perfect little path for this small creature to safely run from one small opening to the other. Proverbs 30:28 says, "a lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings' palaces.” It means that something so small can still accomplish big things. The emperors that lived here never realized that this “small” faith in a Jewish Messiah, would flourish to eventually turn the whole world upside down.

From there we toured the Coliseum and went on the stage (newly built because the old one had rotted away centuries ago) and marveled at the size and scope of this wonder of the world. It was on this stage, maybe near the spot we stood, that the emperor Domitian condemned that the apostle John be boiled to death in oil. John, the one Jesus loved the most, survived his ordeal and many in the stadium came to believe in Jesus as a result. This made Domitian so angry that he banished him to the island of Patmos in A.D. 95-96 where he wrote the Book of Revelation. Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to keep many people alive.”

Finally, after sharing a salad and a gluten-free pizza, we saw the Catacombs of Saint Sebastian. Here, the early church buried their loved ones. It was located in an old quarry that was no longer in use and became a maze of over 7 miles of tunnels with over 65,000 people buried there, most in secret. Graves were simply marked with doves, or a fish to show they were Christian. Also, a man with his hands raised could mark a Christian burial, because the early Christians prayed with their hands folded open. This site once held the bones of Paul and Peter and included an underground chapel where persecuted Christians could come and pray. When Christianity was made legal they removed Paul and Peters's bones and placed them in newly formed churches around Rome. I felt as if I was back in the first Century and I wanted to join those early Christians in that small underground chapel to pray with them. What faith they had!

After another 12,000-step day, we bought some local groceries and made dinner at our place. Or I should say, Sandi made dinner! Chicken and Gnocchi with a mushroom pesto and salad. It was awesome!

After walking a total of 32,000 steps in 3 days, I think I'll combine the next few days into one blog to give my feet a rest.

The Forum


Where palaces once stood


The Emperor's Private Temple and what it looks like now


On the floor of the arena


Blessed are those who are persecuted…


Entrance to the catacombs (no pictures inside allowed)


Church built right over the catacombs

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