In the waters between Reggio Calabria of Southern Italy and Messina, a city of Sicilia an Italian island, silently lay the rocks which heard the Good News of Jesus Christ for the first time preached by St. Paul. A group of scientists and experts from Greece recently claimed that they have traced the remains of the old Greek temple in which St.Paul preached. It was a temple of Artemis, which remained a celebrated sanctuary of the Greeks till the advent of Christianity. After the year 1500 A.D. the temple was submerged and went under water. Everyone forgot about it till it was discovered recently.
According to documents belonging to 6th-7th century, and supported by the Acts of the Apostles, Paul of Tarsus reached the place exactly during the festival of Artemis. Paul, requested for an occasion to preach the Good News of Jesus to the people. They permitted him but with a strange condition: that he should finish his preaching before the lighted candle burns out! They kept a lighted candle on one of the broken pillars of the temple. But according to a local tradition, when the candle burnt out, the pillar caught fire and allowed St.Paul to preach without interruption. The half burnt pillar is preserved even to this day in the cathedral church of Reggio Calabria. It?s here the first church was founded on Italian soil.
The temple of Artemis in which St.Paul preached is now under waters some 30 meters away from the shore of Calabria. It is said that in the year 1547, under the Spanish the course of a river was changed to southward in order to make place to construct their fort. The river that changed it?s course engulfed the old temple which according to Greek mythology was built according to the oracle of Delfi and was a part of the expansion of Greek Empire on Italian soil.
In the year 2005, a simple book stall owner, with his interest in studying old classics and history, did a little research and after consultation with a couple of experts in the Archeology Department of the University Messina wrote a novel basing on the temple of Artemis and the Greek history. The archeologists were unanimous in their opinion on the exact location of the temple of Artemis. A group of enthusiasts along with scientists and experts began their research. As a result, just 30 meters away from the shore, in a depth of 8 meters found the remains of the old temple buried under half a meter of sand. The temple is around 80 meters length with carved stones and columns.
Italy, which was a part of the Greater Greece Empire, hides in its womb innumerable secrets and stories which are waiting to be discovered, as the recent discovery of the cave in which the orphan infant Romulus, would be founder of Rome, was nursed by a female wolf by feeding him with her own milk!!
(Photographs courtesy: La Repubblica)
Author: Fr. Chetan- Capuchin- Rome