St.Paul ‘s Church  - Konya

During his first missionary journey across Anatolia, St. Paul came to Iconium (Konya), after having been chased away from Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:51).  Its geographical position as a crossroads for major trade routes as well as its abundant water supply made Iconium the capital city for this region.

     Here, St. Paul proclaimed the Gospel and a fervent Christian community was born.  The Jews became divided over this message so St. Paul stayed some time, with the result that many believed.  Eventually, under threat of his life he left the city but later returned on several occasions to encourage and exhort the people (Acts 14:1-6, 21).

     The memory of St. Paul is still alive in Konya, thanks to a small church dedicated to him.  This church was constructed in 1910 by priests "de l'Assomption" who came here to spiritually assist the families of the French community working in the region.  St. Paul’s Konya Church is unique to this region as it is still standing after the passage of time, during which a large number of churches were demolished or turned into mosques when numbers of  Christians decreased.

     In this church St. Thecla and St. Timothy are remembered as well.  One of Konya’s very first converts to Christianity, St. Thecla determined to remain a virgin out of love for the Lord Jesus Christ.  After suffering numerous persecutions she died in Seleucia.  She is remembered in the Cathedral of Milan and her Saints Day is September 23.   St. Timothy was a disciple of Paul’s from Lystra, a small town about 40 km. distant, who “had a good reputation among the believers at Lystra and Iconium” (Acts 16:1-2).  He joined St. Paul as a companion during his journeys and later was made Bishop of Ephesus.  Two of St. Paul’s letters to St. Timothy are included in the New Testament.

     These are but two of the First Century saints from Iconium.  Others include Conon and his twelve-year-old son, martyrs (29/5); Terenzius, Bishop and martyr (21/6);  Appolonius, crucified martyr (10/7); Marcianus martyr (11/7);  Curonotus, Bishop and martyr (12/9); Trifenna and Trifosa, both disciples of St. Paul after St. Thecla’s example (10/ll); Anfilochius, Bishop and companion of Sts. Basil and Gregory Nazianzas (23/11).

Now this small church, with its French Gothic facade, offers hospitality to groups of pilgrims travelling the paths of St. Paul in Anatolia, thanks to the  concern and oversight of the Bishop of Izmir/ Konya and to the presence of two resident Sisters from the "Fraternity Resurrected Jesus" in Tavodo, Trento, Italy.  Today’s small community of Catholic Christians gather here once a week to pray and listen to the Word of God as transmitted by the Apostles in their endless love for our Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

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