In Pompeii, like its nearest neighboring town,
Herculaneum, there was a Christian community until the fatal
eruption of 79 AD. This could happen quite early. So in one of the
books of the New Testament, namely in the book of Acts, the visit of
the Apostle Paul to the small town of Puteoli on the road to Rome is
13 From there we set sail and arrived
at Rhegium. The following day we reached Puteoli.
14 I spent a
week with them. And so we came to Rome.
The town of Puteoli
is located on the north coast of the Gulf of Naples, to the west of
modern Naples. It is possible that Christianity in this region
originated precisely from this city. Although of course it could
come here and from Rome a little later than the journey of the
One of the important evidence of the presence of the Christian
community in Pompeii was found in 1962 on the wall of one of the
buildings, which became known as the Hotel of the Christians. It is
difficult to say if the hotel really belonged to a Christian
religious group, but the graffiti painted in coal on the outer wall
of the building clearly belongs to Christians. It says: "Strange
ideas have captured the mind" A "(the unspecified name of a person
with the letter A), who is now a prisoner of Christians." We do not
know who this man “A” was, but it seems that family members and / or
friends were really stunned by the turn with the fate of this man or
woman. The one who wrote it apparently wanted to shame this
inhabitant of Pompeii and even scare him away from his newfound
religion. The persecutions of Emperor Nero were over, but during the
eruption, Christianity was a forbidden religion. Belonging to
Christianity could cost life, freedom, or the whole state.
Some historians also suggest that the inscription belongs to the
owners of a brothel, which stands on the other side of the street.
It is possible that this kind of "A" was a great lover of women.
After his conversion to Christianity, it is quite logical to assume
that this person stopped going to the brothel, thereby causing
damage to the brothel owners. But all this is only speculation.
Unfortunately, most of the graffiti was washed away, because the
inscription was made with coal.
House of Paquius Proculus
possible indication of the presence of Christians in Pompeii we can
see in the house of Paquius Proculus. Paquius Proculus is an
interesting and mysterious figure in the history of Pompeii. Perhaps
he was a Christian, though he concealed it. One of the reasons for
this is the fact that pagan symbols were diligently destroyed in his
bakery. Some of them were torn off, and the phallus symbols were
covered with plaster. In addition, a strange symbol appeared in the
bakery with him, resembling a Christian cross (in the photo on the
left). During the excavations, archaeologists at his private
residence also found the Sator cross-shaped crossword on the door
jamb in their home. It is possible that this may be a sign of
belonging to the Christian faith.
Sator is a polydrom, that
is, it can be read in both directions.
(From serere = sow) sow, seeder; Founder, grandparent (usually
Unknown word, most likely, a proper
name, or coined, or, perhaps, of Egyptian origin.
Ténéré = hold) holds, holds; comprehends; possesses; masters; saves
(Noun) work, care; help, service, effort / concern; (From
opus): work, business.
(From the noun Rota) wheel
It would seem silly, but it is enough to transfer letters and we
have a Christian cross with the words "Pater Noster" or Our Father
and the letters Alpha and Omega. The beginning and end of the
By the way, in the neighboring Herculaneum, there were also found
possible traces of the presence of Christians in the Roman region of
Campania in antiquity.
Signs of Christian presence in the nearby
Herculaneum that was also destroyed along with Pompeii
House of the Bicentary (Casa
The house of the Bicentary was found in Herculaneum in 1938 and
200 years after the start of the excavation of Herculaneum. This
is probably one of the most interesting buildings in the city,
as it is perhaps the world's first Christian prayer house or
chapel. In the wall of one of the rooms there is a cruciform
depression, where a wooden cross apparently hung. There are
still nail marks in the wall. Also on both sides there are
traces of metal buttonholes, on which wooden shutters were hung.
That is, most of the time the cross was not visible and these
shutters opened only during prayers. The very location of this
room suggests that outsiders did not enter here. It was a small
closet, hidden from the eyes of a stranger.
this is not surprising. Although the Romans belonged to
different religions and cults quite liberally, but a certain
framework still existed. One could pray to anyone, anywhere, but
recognition of the supremacy of the Roman gods was obligatory.
That is, it was possible to worship Mithra or Osiris, but
Jupiter was the main God. When visiting the Roman family for the
etiquette of that time, it was necessary to bring several gifts:
for the owner of the house, his wife, his children and of course
one gift for the genius or deity of this house. If a person
refused to bring a gift to the genius, it was not just an insult
to the deity, it was a challenge that could bring grief to the
family of the god living there. The same principles existed
throughout the Roman Empire. Those religions that did not
recognize the Roman gods were considered enemy simply because
the Roman gods could take up arms against the Romans for their
softness towards heretics.
Judaism was given some relief.
They were allowed to pray, but Romans avoided Jews in personal
relationship. To make friends with a Jew was to incur the wrath
of the gods or his own patron genius. Therefore, European
anti-Semitism takes roots far beyond the borders of
Christianity. While if it was possible to compromise with the
Jews for the sake of tranquility in the empire, then they did
not stand on ceremony with Christianity. Jews existed within
their ethnic borders. They didn't try to convert Romans into
their faith. The new religion on the other hand had no hard
ethnic borders. New ideas fascinated many Romans and turned them
away from the old Roman gods. Therefore, a relatively liberal
Roman society was so tough with representatives of the new
religion: they were burned at the stake, thrown at animals in
the arenas of amphitheaters and generally found clever ways to
destroy Christians. It didn't work in the end.