Antioch (Agenzia Fides) - The faithful, the curious, simple Internet surfers can go to http://www.anadolukatolikkilisesi.org/antakya the new official web site of Saint Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Antioch which offers all kinds of information, historical, literary, theological on the Christian presence in Antioch. The virtual visitor can take a guided tour of the past and present through the places of interest such St Peter's Grotto, the Monastery of Saint Simon the Stylite, the Orthodox Church, the Catholic School run by the Sisters of St Joseph of the Apparition. The site also recalls personalities born in Antioch: people who had a determinant mission in the history of the early Church such as St Luke the Evangelist, Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Saint John Chrysostom and many others. The virtual visitor will be filled with a desire to retrace the steps of the apostles Peter and Paul in Antioch and pilgrimages are encouraged. The web site was opened with the help of Capuchin Friar Domenico Bertogli who has been on mission in the Catholic Church in Antioch for years.
Antioch, today Antakya, main town of the Turkish province of Hatay, is situated in the valley of the Oronte, at the foot of Mount Silpio, 509mt high, and 28 km. from Mediterranean sea e a 80mt above sea level. In the ancient times it was called "Queen of the East" rich in culture and beautiful monuments and works of art. Today it is a town with a population of 200,000.
Antioch on the Oronte is where the community of the disciples of Christ were first referred to as Christians. Today the small Christian community is composed of a few Catholic families, and a good number of Arab speaking Greek Orthodox families who meet to share the faith and grow spiritually. The small Christian community organises social and pastoral initiatives to encourage Christians to stay rather than immigrate for economic reasons.
At Antioch on the Oronte the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul is a special celebration and an important opportunity for ecumenical dialogue and prayer which helps to strengthen the bonds between the different Christian confession in Turkey.
The new web site also speaks of the martyr Fr. Basilio da Novara, Capuchin friar assassinated by Muslim extremists in 1851, remembered as the “modern founder of the Catholic church in Antioch”. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 4/9/2007 righe 27 parole 273)