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Chapter 69

  • About dawn of the following day two dark figures were moving along the Appia_ay toward the Campania.
  • One of them was Nazarius; the other the Apostle Peter, who was leaving Rom_nd his martyred co-religionists.
  • The sky in the east was assuming a light tinge of green, bordered graduall_nd more distinctly on the lower edge with saffron color. Silver-leafed trees,
  • the white marble of villas, and the arches of aqueducts, stretching throug_he plain toward the city, were emerging from shade. The greenness of the sk_as clearing gradually, and becoming permeated with gold. Then the east bega_o grow rosy and illuminate the Adban Hills, which seemed marvellousl_eautiful, lily-colored, as if formed of rays of light alone.
  • The light was reflected in trembling leaves of trees, in the dew-drops. Th_aze grew thinner, opening wider and wider views on the plain, on the house_otting it, on the cemeteries, on the towns, and on grorps of trees, amon_hich stood white columns of temples.
  • The road was empty. The villagers who took vegtables to the city had no_ucceeded yet, evidently, in harnessing beasts to their vehicles. From th_tone blocks with which the road was paved as far as the mountains, there cam_ low sound from the bark shoes on the feet of the two travellers.
  • Then the sun appeared over the line of hills; but at once a wonderful visio_truck the Apostle's eyes. It seemed to him that the golden circle, instead o_ising in the sky, moved down from the heights and was advancing on the road.
  • Peter stopped, and asked, —
  • "Seest thou that brightness approaching us?"
  • "I see nothing," replied Nazarius.
  • But Peter shaded his eyes with his hand, and said after a while,
  • "Some figure is coming in the gleam of the sun." But not the slightest soun_f steps reached their ears. It was perfectly still all around. Nazarius sa_nly that the trees were quivering in the distance, as if some one wer_haking them, and the light was spreading more broadly over the aeilain. H_ooked with wonder at the Apostle.
  • "Rabbi! what ails thee?" cried he, with alarm.
  • The pilgrim's staff fell from Peter's hands to the earth; his eyes wer_ooking forward, motionless; his mouth was open; on his face were depicte_stonishment, delight, rapture.
  • Then he threw himself on his knees, his arms stretched forward; and this cr_eft his lips, —
  • "O Christ! O Christ!"
  • He fell with his face to the earth, as if kissing some one's feet.
  • The silence continued long; then were heard the words of the aged man, broke_y sobs, —
  • "Quo vadis, Domine?"
  • Nazarius did not hear the answer; but to Peter's ears came a sad and swee_oice, which said, —
  • "If thou desert my people, I am going to Rome to be crucified a second time."
  • The Apostle lay on the ground, his face in the dust, without motion or speech.
  • It seemed to Nazarius that he had fainted or was dead; but he rose at last,
  • seized the staff with trembling hands, and turned without a word toward th_even hills of the city.
  • The boy, seeing this, repeated as an echo, —
  • "Quo vadis, Domine?"
  • "To Rome," said the Apostle, in a low voice.
  • And he returned.
  • Paul, John, Linus, and all the faithful received him with amazement; and th_larm was the greater, since at daybreak, just after his departure, pretorian_ad surrounded Miriam's house and searched it for the Apostle. But to ever_uestion he answered only with delight and peace, —
  • "I have seen the Lord!"
  • And that same evening he went to the Ostian cemetery to teach and baptiz_hose who wished to bathe in the water of life.
  • And thenceforward he went there daily, and after him went increasing numbers.
  • It seemed that out of every tear of a martyr new confessors were born, an_hat every groan on the arena found an echo in thousands of breasts. Caesa_as swimming in blood, Rome and the whole pagan world was mad. But those wh_ad had enough of transgression and madness, those who were trampled upon,
  • those whose lives were misery and oppression, all the weighed down, all th_ad, all the unfortunate, came to hear the wonderful tidings of God, who ou_f love for men had given Himself to be crucified and redeem their sins.
  • When they found a God whom they could love, they had found that which th_ociety of the time could not give any one, — happiness and love.
  • And Peter understood that neither Caesar nor all his legions could overcom_he living truth, — that they could not overwhelm it with tears or blood, an_hat now its victory was beginning. He understood with equal force why th_ord had turned him back on the road. That city of pride, crime, wickedness,
  • and power was beginning to be His city, and the double capital, from whic_ould flow out upon the world government of souls and bodies.