"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Damascus -- Chapel of St. Paul

The first day we were in Damascus, we took a short walk from the hostel and ended up at St. Paul's Chapel where we enjoyed taking photos. When Samer sent me a message when we first met, he put "From Damascus" as the subject. Immediately the Apostle Paul came to my mind since his conversion story is remarkable.

"Bab Kisan (Arabic,باب كيسان )(The Kisan Gate) is one of the seven ancient city-gates of Damascus, Syria. The gate, which is now located in the southeastern part of the Old City, was named in memory of a slave who became famous during a conquest by the Caliph Mu'awiya. The wall was built during the Roman era and was dedicated to Saturn. Bab Kisan is famous for being the escape route of St Paul ." Source

A statue outside the chapel reminds us of Paul's conversion from one hurting and imprisoning believers in Jesus to being a great missionary and suffering much for this same Jesus Christ.

Around the chapel there were numerous paintings

which told of Paul's life as recorded in the Bible

"After staying three years in Damascus, he went to live in the Nabataean Kingdom (which he called "Arabia") for an unknown period, then came back to Damascus, which by this time was under Nabatean rule. After three more years (Gal. 1:17;20), he was forced to flee the city under the cover of night (Acts 9:23;25; 2 Cor. 11:32ff) after explosive reactions from Jews who opposed his teachings." Source

"He was lowered down from a window in the wall, down into a basket, and with the help of his Christian disciplines, made his escape at night and fled towards Jerusalem. Paul recounts in the Bible that it was through a window that he escaped from a certain death (2 Cor 11,32-33). Today it holds Chapel of St. Paul." Source

I read in Wikipedia that this chapel's religious affiliation is Melkite.

"The term Melkite (also written Melchite) is used to refer to various Christian churches and their members originating in the Middle East. The word comes from the Syriac word malkāyā (Syriac: ܡܠܟܝܐ), meaning "imperial".[1] In Arabic, the word Malakī (Arabic: ملكي‎) also means "imperial". . . . The Melkites were generally Greek-speaking city-dwellers living in the west of the Levant and in Egypt, as opposed to the more provincial Syriac- and Coptic-speaking non-Chalcedonians." Source

Here are scenes from Paul's life. Andrew and I went around the chapel "reading" the story to Samer. One man sitting there was surprised and asked Samer about us. He'd never seen people take the time to do that, apparently. We're weird.

Pictures from Damascus, Syria
January 2009


Louai said...

Its really worth a visit !!

I've never been there :-(

Joni said...

How amazing. Did it feel very OLD? Like ancient and 'weighty' with history, if you know what I mean?