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Importance of Turkey in the view of Christianity

For those who are interested in the historical side of Christianity, already in the period of Roman persecution in the first century after Christ, they should make the trips to the lands where all these sermons, discussions, fights and miracles were lived.

São Pedro, São Paulo and São João Evangelista are important characters who lived in this land in history. So for those who want to know the beginning of the evangelization of Christianity, it is important to know where they preached and where miracles took place.

Read news from journalist Marcos Uchôa Antakya, TurkeyNewspaper Today

Antakya, which was once known as Antioch, is considered by religious to be the place that welcomed the first Christians and is over 2,300 years old.

Jornal Hoje went to Turkey, a neighboring country in Syria, which receives the most refugees fleeing all this violence. The city of Antakya is considered by religious to be the place that welcomed the first Christians, is over 2,300 years old and is full of minarets, the towers of mosques.

Antakya was formerly known as Antioch. It is quoted in the Bible and has a lot to tell. In southern Turkey, almost on the border with Syria, its inhabitants call it a city of peace.

Mosques, a Catholic church and even a synagogue coexist well in the city. Today, the entire region receives more than 100,000 Syrians who escape the war, persecution and violence of the regime of dictator Bashar Al-Assad.

Almost two thousand years ago, a much smaller group fled Jerusalem and went to the city. On the side of a mountain is the most famous place, the birthplace of Christianity. It was a simple cave. At a time when they were very repressed, those who wanted to follow Jesus’ teachings came together to pray.

A group of priests, including four Brazilians, visit the site. They explain the importance of being considered the mother of all Catholic churches.

Anderson Gomes, from Vitória, Espírito Santo, says that Christianity goes to the world of Antioch, and that being there is like touching history, entering the Bible. Geraldo Maia, from Uberaba, Minas Gerais, says that the Christians met, Paulo and Pedro, and that, in the city, Christianity goes from being a Jewish sect to becoming a true religion.

In Antioch, in a way, the new religion was baptized and given a name. Father Leonardo Pereira, from Caxias do Sul, says that, in the city, for the first time, followers were called Christians.

The statue with prominence in the city is that of São Pedro, the first bishop of the city, but it was São Paulo that started to travel and spread Christianity wherever he went.

A city chapel is about nine meters wide, seven meters high and nine meters deep. When the crusaders arrived at the site, at the end of the 11th century, they broke the entire entrance and expanded the dimensions of the site, sacred to Christians for a long time.

There are remnants of mosaics on the floor, a small fountain in the corner that served for baptism, a tunnel to escape persecution, niches in the walls for candles, and in the air, more than anything, the emotion of a place from where you left for transform the world.

Prayer invokes love for those who suffer. Right next door, almost two thousand years later, millions of Syrians are suffering in a brutal war. Everyone deserves the compassion of prayer.

Special places for masses in Turkey

Turkey is a very important destination in the history of Christianity because of its location.

Mainly, when Christianity was rejected by Roman Empire administrators and Jerusalem residents, the apostles and disciples went to the famous destinations of the time.

Ephesus, Perge, Iconia, Tarsus, Antioch, Pisidia and hierápolis are the places visited by the apostles São Paulo, São Pedro, São Filipe.

And the geography of the Cappadocia region also made it easier for Christians to escape from Roman persecution. São Jorge is an outstanding figure of this time.

Another name famous for Christianity that grew up in the Cappadocia region is São Simão.

If you want to visit these places so special for Christianity, book a trip with us.

In Cappadocia you can visit the chapels of São Jorge, and São Simão and you can also visit the underground cities where Christians took refuge during the first 3 centuries of Christianity.

The cradle of Christianity

By António Marujo

Christ was born in Galilee, but the baby was soon placed in the cradle of Asia Minor, says the apostolic vicar of Istanbul. The expression reflects the importance of cities in present-day Turkey in the early centuries of Christianity. The Pope will visit some of these places on this religious pilgrimage. By António Marujo

“It is the house of God, which is the same for everyone. We all worship the one God,” says the Turkish septuagenarian Saban to the AFP report in Antakya, southern Turkey. With his wife, Cemile, Saban comes to pray at St. Peter’s Church, the ruins of a temple from the early days of Christianity in the ancient Antioch of the Bible. Antakya is a model of tolerance between the Muslim majority and the small Christian community of around 1300 people. It was in this church that, in 1963, Pope Paul VI celebrated Mass, making it a place of pilgrimage for Catholics. Antakya or Antioch, Ephesus, Istanbul. These names are central to the history of early Christianity. If Jesus was born a Jew in first-century Palestine, Christianity expanded from locations in present-day Turkey.

Some of these places will, from today, be visited by Pope Benedict XVI, on what is a high-risk trip since the speech of September 12 in Regensburg (Germany). But, when it was thought, the trip was decided essentially as a religious pilgrimage.

Turkish Christians, separated by various obediences (Orthodox, Syrian, Armenian, Catholic), are no more than 200,000, less than one percent of an overwhelmingly Islamic population that exceeds 70 million people. Today’s Turkey, however, was an important territory in the early centuries of Christianity.

It was probably in Antioch, where the apostles Peter and Paul were also, that the followers of Jesus were first called Christians. The city, with 200 thousand inhabitants, was the place where they took refuge.

“The Christian Church was born in Antioch, this was the first stage for Christians who had fled persecution,” says the Apostolic Vicar of Istanbul, Louis Pêlatre, in statements to AFP. “Christ was born in Galilee, but the baby was soon placed in the cradle of Asia Minor,” he adds. And, over the centuries, Anatolia and Cappadocia became a refuge for the persecutions of the Roman Empire, where monasteries and churches flourished.

The religious significance of Benedict XVI’s trip to Turkey is also measured by the symbolic places that the Pope will visit during these days.

EPHESUS, THE HOUSE OF THE VIRGIN MARY

Ephesus, a former metropolis on the Turkish Aegean coast, became an important Christian center in the early years after Jesus’ death. The apostles John and Paul lived in Ephesus and, according to tradition, Jesus’ mother also lived here the last years of her life, before she died – even if there are no historical elements to confirm it.

Ephesus was one of the seven churches, or communities, referred to in the last book of the Christian Bible, the Apocalypse, and which are all located in present-day Turkey: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. The Letter to the Ephesians, whose authorship is attributed to St. Paul, is said to have been addressed to Christians in the city or to those in Laodicea, according to the New Capuchin Bible.

The House of the Virgin Mary is the place of the most important Christian tradition, even if surrounded by doubts about its authenticity. Located on the outskirts of the city, it will be visited tomorrow, Wednesday, by the Pope. Benedict XVI will celebrate a mass here, the only open-air event, on his trip to Turkey. He will be the third Pope to visit the place: Paul VI was there in 1967 and John Paul II in 1979, on one of the first trips of his pontificate.

The place is visited annually by tens of thousands of people, including Muslims, who revere Mary of Nazareth as the mother of a great prophet. It was discovered from the visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich, the mystic whose writings Mel Gibson relied on to make his film The Passion. Abbot Gouyet, of France, followed the seer’s indications and found, in 1891, the remains of the building on the top of Mount Koressos, seven kilometers from Ephesus, in western Turkey.

The presence of Maria de Nazaré in Ephesus is still controversial among experts. Mary would have lived there with the apostle John – to whom Jesus had entrusted her – and the Council of Ephesus, in 431, took place in a church dedicated to her, say the defenders. But the most skeptical claim that there are no historical elements of confidence to support such theses.

CHURCH OF SAINT JORGE 

Mother church of the spiritual leader of the 200 million Orthodox, Patriarch Bartolomeu. The meeting between the Pope and the patriarch of Constantinople (the title is named after the former capital of the Eastern Roman Empire) is the primary reason for the trip. Orthodox and Catholics symbolize the first major break in Christianity, in 1054. Only in 1964 did Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI raise the mutual excommunications proclaimed nine centuries earlier. A joint declaration will be signed Thursday, in this church, by the two leaders.

SANTA SOFIA

For over a thousand years, Haghia Sofia (holy wisdom, in Greek) was the largest Christian church in the world, built under the order of Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. Only the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica supplanted it. Considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, it was transformed into a mosque in 1453. Ataturk, father of modern Turkey, decided to make it a museum in 1935. The Pope will visit the building as a tourist.

CATHEDRAL DO ESPÍRITO SANTO It was built in 1846 and has since become the main religious site of the small Turkish Catholic community.

BLUE MOSQUE On Saturday, the Pope’s visit to the Blue Mosque was announced, to serve as another gesture of goodwill. Built in front of Hagya Sofia, between 1609 and 1616, the mosque is known by the name of Sultan Ahmet, who had it built. The name of the Blue Mosque owes it to the splendid tile panels of the 17th century.

Package alternatives for Catholic groups

An option with 10 days

First day: Arrival in Istanbul and trip to Antioch;

Second day: Antioch and Tarsus;

Third day: Tarsus and Cappadocia;

Fourth day: Cappadocia tours

Fifth day: Cappadocia, Konya and Pamukkale;

Sixth day: Pamukkale, Laodicéia and Kuşadası;

Seventh day: Kusadasi, Ephesus and Istanbul;

Eighth day: Tours in Istanbul;

Ninth day: Tours in Istanbul;

Tenth day: Istanbul and return.

Another option with 8 days

1st DAY – Arrival in Istanbul – Transfer to the hotel – Dinner and Accommodation

2nd DAY – Tours in Istanbul for the whole day visiting the main points of the city

3rd DAY – Air travel to Adana and visits to Antioch

4th DAY – Visits in Tarsus and travel to Cappadocia 

5th DAY –  Cappadocia – Full day tour

DAY 6 – Travel from Cappadocia to Pamukkale and visits: Agzikarahan, Konya

7th DAY – Visits: Ephesus, Mary’s House and accommodation in Izmir

8th DAY – Air travel from Izmir to Istanbul – Ending our services – Izmir / Istanbul / Destination

Another option