saint paul’s bema

The Bema of Saint Paul in Corinth

The Rostra (Bema) of the Roman Forum

Saint Paul is also known as the Apostle of the Nations because of his missionary journeys throughout the eastern Mediterranean for the dissemination of Christianity. In this context he visited several Greek cities, including the island of Samothrace, Philippi, Thessalonica and Veroia in Macedonia, Athens and, most importantly, Corinth.

Corinth, a Roman imperial colony and capital of the province of Achaea (Peloponnese and Central Greece), experienced a period of great prosperity during the Roman era. Saint Paul arrived in the city in the mid-1st c. A.D. and took up lodging and work with the Jewish tentmakers Aquila and Priscilla. At the same time, he reasoned and preached the Gospel to the Jews of the city, being confronted, however, with strong opposition from several members of the city’s large Jewish community.

St. Paul Bema in Corinth
St. Paul Bema in Corinth

Saint Paul thus resolved to devote his full attention to the conversion of the Gentiles, a decision which proved highly successful. After a year and a half of his sojourn in Corinth, Saint Paul left for Ephesus, having established a strong and well-organized church in the city. Even after his departure, he kept in contact with the Christian community; in fact, he addressed some of his most famous epistles, the Epistles to the Corinthians, to its leaders.

Ancient Corinth
Ancient Corinth

During Paul‘s stay in Corinth, he was brought for judgment before the proconsul Lucius Junius Gallio Annaeanus, also known as Gallio, on the accusation of conducting illegal teachings. Gallio, however, refused to judge what he considered to be a mere religious dispute among the Jews. According to tradition, the site of Paul s trial was the Bema, a large elevated rostrum standing prominently in the centre of the Roman Forum of ancient Corinth and from where the city’s officials addressed the public. Probably because of the monument’s connection to Saint Paul, the Bema was transformed into a Christian church during the Byzantine period.

Bema at ancient Corinth Greece
Bema at ancient Corinth Greece”

The partial restoration of the Bema has been funded by the Operational Program: Western Greece-Peloponnesus-Ionian Islands 2007-2013 (NSRF) and implemented by the 37th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities in the framework of the project: Fixation, Conservation, Restoration and Reevaluation of Monuments at Ancient Corinth.

Source: Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth

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