MEMBERS of two Markethill Church of Ireland parishes journeyed in the footsteps of St Paul the Apostle on and around the eastern Mediterranean - but they did it in rather more comfort than the Biblical Epistle writer.
The joint parishes of Mullabrack and Kilcluney made the journey under the leadership of the Rev Neville Hughes, who said, “Of course, the people of St Paul’s day had to travel by foot, while we enjoyed the luxury of jet flights and a five-star cruise liner. But it didn’t make the experience any less real. We jetted and sailed back and forth across the Mediterranean and spent hours patiently waiting in airports.”
Mr Hughes, his wife Maureen, along with 26 parishioners and friends wanted to combine some Bible study with their annual holiday. It was all arranged by Sharon Fleming of Thompson Travel International at Kernan and she came up with the idea of bring together a luxury cruise with Royal Caribbean on their flagship Navigator of the Seas, and St Paul’s journey to Rome.
“We joined the ship in Italy and sailed via Sicily to Ephesus where, according to Acts 19, St Paul had stayed for two years establishing the Christian faith,” said the rector.
“From there we went to Athens visiting the Acropolis and Mars Hill where again St Paul preached. Then it was on to Corinth, mentioned in Acts 18, where St Paul stayed for some 18 months and from Corinth to Crete, mentioned in Acts 27.
“The final leg of the journey was from Crete to Rome where it is believed St Paul was martyred in AD 68. It was a fantastic journey, over 2,500 miles by sea – very different from the days of St Paul. We had the luxury of a five-star liner whereas St Paul had to journey on foot for most of the time.”