From the book “THE COMING OF THE SAINTS”
by J. W. Taylor
ST. TROPHIMUS AND ARLES
‘Let no man think that sudden in a minute All is accomplished and the work is done:
Though with thine earliest dawn thou shouldst begin it Scarce were it ended in thy setting sun.
Oh, the regret, the struggle, and the failing!
Oh, the days desolate and useless years! Vows in the night so fierce and unavailing!
Stings of my shame and passion of my tears!
How have I knelt with arms of my aspiring
Lifted all night in irresponsive air, Dazed and amazed with overmuch desiring,
Blank with the utter agony of prayer!’5
'St. Paul', by F. W. H. Myers
MANY years ago, when I first read the legends of the countryside in the writings of Mistral, of Augustus J. C. Hare and of Pere Lacordaire, and in years since then, when I traced them for myself at Marseilles, at St. Maximin and at Aries, I very naturally concluded that if there had been any ‘Coming of the Saints’ at all to Provence, they had come together.
But as I began to read the Life of Rabanus, the other Lives of St. Mary Magdalene preserved in Paris, and to reconsider the Lives of St. Trophimus and St. Lazarus as we find them in the New Testament and in tradition, I began to doubt whether this was possible.
The information of the coming of St. Mary Magdalene and St. Martha with St. Maximin (one of the seventy disciples) is so definitely associated with the martyrdom of St. James the Greater, and again (in Rabanus) with the fourteenth year after our Lord's ascension, that if we accept the details of the Life as at all historical we are forced to the conclusion that these came first to Provence, that they were afterwards joined by St. Lazarus, and that St. Trophimus probably followed them some years later still.
If so, there might very well be exceptional difficulties in the original mission on account both of nationality and language (all the members of it apparently being Hebrews), but there would not necessarily be any real difficulty in the journey.
We are told in Rabanus that the Bethany family inherited an extensive and rich patrimony, possessing considerable property not only at Bethany but also at Magdala and in Jerusalem, and that in common with many of the other early disciples they sold this and laid the proceeds at the Apostles' feet.
St. Maximin, if indeed he was the young man who came to Jesus and 'who had great possessions', and if he was now bent on the giving of himself, might reasonably count the expenses of this journey as part of the 'giving to the poor' denoted by his Lord's command, while St. Joseph of Arimathea, if (as many of the older traditions state) he accompanied them, was still a rich man, and all the necessities of the journey would probably be provided for before leaving Palestine.
So apart from the perils of the sea journey, which might well account for the tradition of the dismantled vessel - the Gulf of Lyons being, as every sailor knows, a rough and treacherous sea - the main difficulties of the mission would be encountered after the sea journey was over.
Alien in race, in custom, and to a very large extent in language (Aramaic being very different from Massilian Greek), it would be mainly by personal life and example that such teachers could hope for any influence; and progress would necessarily at first be slow.
Granting this, the silence in the Acts of the Apostles respecting these personal friends of our Saviour is easily explained. Long before all the later events recorded in the Book of the Acts, they would have been working on or near the sea coast in the neighbourhood of Marseilles; fighting an uphill fight, hiding in rocks and caves, perhaps only able to assemble for worship in some cave by stealth, and only rarely finding an opportunity of communication with their friends in Palestine.
But, whatever we may think of the traditional history of the early Hebrew missionaries - of St. Mary and St. Maximin, of their reputed journey from the Camargue across the Rhone towards Aix and La Ste. Baume and of the apostolate of St. Lazarus at Marseilles1 there is a later missionary effort which we have still to consider - the fruits of which cannot be well gainsaid. This was
1. In some legends, the proconsul Sergius Paulus is said to have accompanied Lazarus from Cyprus, and to have been afterwards known as St. Paul of Narbonne. The present cathedral of Narbonne is dedicated to St. Serge. The church of St. Paul Serge (Sergius Paulus) in Narbonne is an old Church in an old neighbourhood, and so crowded and encroached upon the adjacent houses that its exterior can hardly be seen advantageously from any position. It is apparently kept up by the State, for the words ‘Liberte, Egalite et Fraternite’ are conspicuously fixed over each entrance.
The relics of St. Paul are preserved in a special chapel behind the high altar on the south side of the chancel or east end of the church.
Greek rather than Hebrew, and connected with the labours of St Paul. It is confirmed by much circumstantial evidence, and apparently resulted in a chain of successful missions all along the Rhone Valley, from which were developed the two great Churches of Lyons and Vienna in the succeeding century.
Let us go back and again consider its probable beginning.
As St. Paul journeyed to Jerusalem to confer with the other Apostles on the occasion of his last fateful visit, he took with him Trophimus the Greek from Ephesus and one Mnason of Cyprus. If there had been any news at Cyprus of the departure of St. Lazarus and Sergius Paulus for the West, he would necessarily hear of it and be anxious to establish their work on a permanent basis. What was in the mind of St. Paul during the final journey to Jerusalem it is not difficult to imagine, for he himself has given us an important clue in his Epistle to the Romans. His fixed intention, he tells us, was in his next missionary journey to go to Rome, where he had many friends, co-workers and relatives, and then to go on from Rome to Spain.
He explains to the Romans that he was going up to Jerusalem carrying with him contributions from the Churches of Macedonia and Achaia for the poor of Jerusalem, and that after he had performed this mission he would come via Rome into Spain (Rom. 15:24-28).
But what was meant by Spain or Iberia in the days of St. Paul? Strabo writes: “Formerly the name of Iberia was given to the whole country between the Rhone and the Isthmus formed by the two Galatic gulfs; whereas now they make the Pyrenees its boundary and call it indifferently Iberia or Hispania; others have restricted Iberia to the country on this side of the Ebro (that is, between the Ebro and the Pyrenees).”
It is accordingly evident that the names of Iberia and Spain had a restricted as well as a more extended meaning - that it was especially applied to the north-eastern part of the country bordering on and connected with Massilian civilization, and that it was sometimes held to include the country north of the Pyrenees as far as the Rhone Valley. In fact, we find that the Massilians founded or held a whole series of towns on the sea border from Spain to Italy.
In Spain we find Hemeroscopium (Denia or Artemis) with a temple to Diana of Ephesus on the promontory, Emporium (Ampurias) and Rhodope; while on the eastern Side of Marseilles we find Tauraentium (Taurenti), Olbia (Eoube), Antipolis (Antibes) and Nicoea (Nice). “All of these were Massilian towns essentially Greek, all worshipping the great Diana of Ephesus, and all practising the Grecian mode of sacrifice.”
And there was a good road connecting all this country with Rome - so good that Strabo writes, “Historians report that Caesar came from Rome to Obulco (Porcuna, not far from Cordova), and to his army there within the space of twenty-seven days when about to fight the battle of Munda” (against Pompey). From all of this we may reasonably infer that the projected journey of St. Paul from Rome into Spain would include all the main Massilian towns and pass through Nimes and Narbonne to the south. Indeed, if Spain be regarded rather as the limit than the centre of the journey, its essential purpose would be not so much what we now know as Spain itself, but Marseilles and the lower portion of the Rhone Valley.2
And how St. Paul was bent upon this journey one may judge from his double reference to it. “When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain and I am sure, that when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ” (Rom. 15 :28, 29).
And then came St. Paul's last journey to Jerusalem and his imprisonment.
There is a curious old manuscript (Faillon, vol. ii, p. 575) of the tenth century (No. 5,537 in the old Royal Library of Paris) which begins: 'Concerning the seven men sent by St. Peter as preachers into Gaul in the time of Nero5; and the names given are 'Trophimus, Paul, Marcial, Austremonus, Graecian, Saturinus and Valerien5. In the text it is stated that these were sent by St. Peter under Claudius ('Sub Claudio5). Possibly some official permission was needed, which was obtained before the death of Claudius Caesar in a.d. 54, but it does not appear that any of those named came until the time of Nero, and this would bring us close to the usually accepted date of St. Paul's imprisonment.
2 The inference that the road journey from Rome into Spain was contemplated by St. Paul is certainly strengthened by the following passage in his letter: “Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you; for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you” (Rom. 15:24).
It is probably always wise to take any list of names, such as this - or the larger list figuring in the 'life of Rabanus' - cum grano salis, for all the older writers had a certain contempt for accurate chronology and often jumbled together the names of important men living in very different ages; but with regard to one or two names - Trophimus and Paul3 - we know the age in which they lived and we know the circumstances under which Trophimus, at least, would be likely to make the journey which tradition has assigned to him. He stands out conspicuously among the rest. We know more about him, and as we read of him, and as we hear of him, history and tradition together make for us fleeting but definite pictures of a personality and character which cannot well be other than that of a living saint and a most interesting mind.
Born, I suppose, at Ephesus (for he is called an Ephesian) (Acts 21: 29), brought up in the worship of the great Diana, learned in all the wisdom and philosophy of the Greeks, he was probably already weary of the religion of his own people and 'seeking after God, if haply he might find Him', when Christianity, or Christ Himself, came to him; for some have held that he met our Lord in Palestine, being one of the Ephesians who had been disciples of St John the Baptist (Acts 19 :34 and John 12 :20).
Living at Ephesus until the mission of St. Paul, and visiting Ephesus in later years, he became not only an intimate friend and follower of St. Paul but, in all probability, was also known to St. John and to the Blessed Virgin, for his first church or oratory is said to have been dedicated to the 'still living Mother of our Lord'.
Somewhat poetical and visionary (as we shall see), not strong and self-reliant like St. Paul, he would find in the loving heart of St. John a sympathy, a breadth of understanding and a depth of affection to which the Greek in him would immediately respond.
He would directly understand and appreciate the wonderful opening of the Gospel of St. John; and, if there be any truth in the tradition regarding the Hebrew mission of the Bethany family and St. Restitutus, Trophimus himself, as a direct carrier of messages and perhaps documents between Provincia Gallica and Ephesus, might be responsible for, and explain, the presence of those narratives which, with their minutiae of detail, are among the great critical difficulties of the Gospel of St. John. The account of the visit of Nicodemus, the long account of the illness and burial and resurrection of Lazarus, the extraordinary full description of the man who
3 Sergius Paulus (?).
4 He is numbered among the ‘Seventy’ by Hippolytus.
was born blind, and his miraculous healing, containing details that apparently could only be known to the chief persons concerned, become at once easy to understand if we imagine these very persons sending their own narratives to Ephesus for insertion in the latest Gospel.
The great Irenaeus, who succeeded Pothinus as bishop of Lyons in 177, writes that “John the disciple of our Lord, the same that lay upon His bosom, published this Gospel while he was yet at Ephesus in Asia” (Eusebius, E.H., bk. V, c. 7); and it is at least very remarkable that nearly all the characters chosen by St. John for special mention should be those traditionally associated with Trophimus and the Rhone Valley.
Tall, fine, of commanding presence, I think (for the coming of Trophimus was immediately noticed by the people of Jerusalem), the sweetness and light of his culture and affection manifest in face and bearing, he would form a marked contrast to St. Paul and would probably admire in St. Paul what was perhaps naturally lacking in himself, and find a healthy stimulus in that energy, enthusiasm, unceasing labour and courage which were distinguishing features of the character of St. Paul.
Standing by him and possibly restraining him, during the time of riot at Ephesus - for he was very likely one of the 'chief of Asia' who were friends of St. Paul (Acts 19 131); working with him in Macedonia and Greece; enduring persecution with him and arranging methods of escape; sailing with some of his companions (but without St. Paul) to Assos; waiting until the Apostle should elude his pursuing enemies and join them; sailing together again down the Aegean by Mitylene, Chios, Samos, Trogyllium and Miletus, and again straight across the Mediterranean from Patara to Tyre - what experiences would be crowded into these months of active work, of pressing danger, and of quiet rest - what opportunities of learning from St. Paul and of developing the true missionary spirit and life!
Do you remember the repeated leave-takings on this memorable journey? Both St. Paul and all who were about him appear to have had an ill-defined premonition or dread of coming evil, of death or imprisonment or parting. At Miletus, the elders of the Church at Ephesus came down to greet St. Paul and Trophimus and Tychicus, and after St. Paul had spoken and prayed with them, all wept and fell upon his neck and kissed him. “Sorrowing most of all for the words that he spake that they should see his face no more . . . and they accompanied him unto the ship.”
Again at Tyre, after a seven days' mission, when St. Paul and his companions were leaving, the Christians came out of the city with their wives and children; and finding, I suppose, a quiet place in some vineyard or stone quarry leading to the sea, they all knelt down; and in the open air, by the side of the Mediterranean, they prayed and took their leave of one another, many to the very last anticipating danger and beseeching St. Paul to stay.
In such scenes was St. Trophimus taught and trained and strengthened for the trouble and the work which was before him. For serious trouble came to him, as we know, at Jerusalem. To feel that he was the cause, the innocent cause, but still the cause of St. Paul's persecution, his possible murder and his imprisonment - to know that those who so loved St. Paul, who depended on his guidance, and others who were waiting for his ministry, might be bereft for ever of his care - and through him - to watch through anxious days and sleepless nights while the Jewish mob was clamouring for the life of the Apostle - to be conscious that he could do nothing to help or to appease, and to be forced day after day to do nothing but pray - to carry his weight of cares and burden of pleading all the day long and to carry it alone - for a time at least to be shut out from any companionship with his friend and master - this was indeed a second and a deeper training in which St. Trophimus had to lean on no earthly help, but on Christ alone, the Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief, whose will was best.
In such a time of suffering and comparative friendlessness (for even St. Paul's friends could hardly forbear, one thinks, to look somewhat askance at the Greek who had brought this trouble upon them), the imprisonment at Caesarea, and especially the later permission to see St. Paul again, would come as a welcome relief, and as the future grew clearer and the prospect widened and the possibility of St. Paul's reaching Rome, but only as a prisoner, took substance and shape, one almost inevitable course for Trophimus to take would be recognized, I think, both by him and St. Paul, that he should go the longer journey towards Spain for St. Paul, and in his stead.
And when we find a traditional account of his doing this, and of his founding the Church at Arelate or Aries, a tradition held strongly and contended for so early as A.D. 450, and when we find such a tradition explanatory not only of the events leading up to this, but also of the events succeeding - of the historical Greek influence on early Gallican Christianity; and again of the curious historical relationship between the Churches of Gaul and Asia in the second century, then, although we may not regard the coming of St. Trophimus to be a matter of strict history, it approaches very closely to this, and the probability of the story grows as we consider his life and times, and search for that living link which must inevitably connect the earliest Church in Palestine with the wonderful Church of martyrs in A.D. 177 at Lyons.
Whatever may have been done by the Hebrews who are said to have preceded St. Trophimus, but little progress, I think, would have been made among the cultivated Greek or Greco-Roman population until St. Trophimus came to Provence. With his coming possibilities of influence would immediately increase.
I picture him as quite ‘at home’ in Marseilles. He would find the same dominant religion as that of his native city Ephesus. Standing, I suppose, somewhere near the site of the present Moorish-looking cathedral, with its domes and cupolas, he would see the Ephesium, sacred to the worship of Diana, and he would probably bring letters of introduction from his friends at Ephesus to some of the Timuchi of Marseilles, and from the Apostles St. Paul, St. Peter and St. James, to those who had preceded him.
As an Ephesian from Ephesus he would, I think, be accorded special honour by the Massilians who, in religion at least, were an offshoot from their acknowledged centre of religious life and enthusiasm at Ephesus, and anything that St. Trophimus might have to say would be listened to with attention and respect.
There would be no difficulty of language. Most of the population were Greek; and full, as we have seen, of Greek interest in new customs and new learning. Many of them would have already heard of the new religion which had caused such disturbances at Ephesus, and would inquire of St. Trophimus, as one understanding the subject and one who had been present, what was the reason and meaning and claims of this newer learning? And then, I imagine, St. Trophimus, a Greek among Greeks, who had watched and listened and worked with St. Paul at Ephesus, at Athens and at Corinth, who would know exactly how to interest his audience without giving unnecessary offence, might begin to speak to his hearers of the nearness of heaven and of the increasing revelation of God to man through all the ages; of the Word of God by whom all things were made, and in whom was life - of the Light of Life - the Light of all who choose to seek, the Light of the world.
And as his audience gathered and increased and pressed closer, before they realized all that it involved, they would be listening with breathless interest as he told them, not of an image which came down from heaven (as that of the great Diana was supposed to have done), but of the Son of God who came down from heaven to seek and save that which was lost - how He came to His own, and His own received Him not —how He was coming now to every one who opened his heart to that coming and 'as many as received Him to them gave He power to become sons of God, even to them that believe in His name'.
And then, perhaps, St. Trophimus might cease and give place to one of his companions who would be able to speak of more personal visible knowledge of Jesus, of the words He spoke to them, of His life and Passion, death and resurrection; of His final blessing and the message which He gave through them to all the world. In fact, when one realizes the practical value of this union of Greek and Hebrew in missionary effort, it seems to give an assurance of certainty to what we are told of St. Mary's teaching.
“These are the hands that anointed my Lord.”
“It was my lips that kissed His feet.”
“It was I whom He pardoned, the chief of sinners
for whom He had compassion and forgiveness” (Life of Rabanus).5
It is not very easy to understand the various districts, and to some extent governments, existing in what is now the South of France at this epoch.
The Massilians, as we have already seen, held Marseilles and irregular patches of coastline and towns all along the sea border. They were under the protection of Rome and lived in amity with Rome, but had their own government and appear to have managed their own affairs, as Strabo has described.
Above this was Provincia or the Narbonnaise, extending from immediately above Marseilles as far as Vienne. This seems to have been the peculiarly Roman district, under direct Roman Government and colonized by Rome. It belonged to Rome long before the rest of Gaul was conquered, and during all this time of conquest, and for a very long time afterwards, was known as Provincia Gallica, while the rest of the continent above it was known as Gaul (or Gallia). Just over the border (in Gallia, therefore, and not in Provincia Gallica) was Lugdunum or Lyons, the capital of the Segusii, but at this time under Roman government or supervision.6
5 Compare the beginning of the First Epistle of St. John.
6 In 125 B.C. the Massilians called in the aid of the Romans against the
Ligurian inhabitants of the surrounding country, and the Romans soon made
themselves masters of the territory which afterwards formed the provinces of
Languedoc, Dauphine and Provence. The new province, of which the capital
was Aquae Sextiae (Aix), was called Provencia Gallica until the total conquest
of Gaul, when the name of the district was changed to Gallia Narboniensis or the
Narbonnaise (Encycl. Brit., Provence).
Probably here a measure of self-government was permitted by the Romans to the Segusii whom they had conquered, so that in this south of France we find in the first and second centuries three notable districts and governments - the Massilian in Marseilles, the Romans in the district north of this as far as Vienne, and in Lugdunum 'or Lyons of the Gauls' as it was often called, a modified local government with Roman occupation and control.
To this middle district, 'Provincial Gallica', which was Roman almost as much as Rome was, we are told St. Trophimus came. St. Maximin was already established at the old capital of Aix, and St. Trophimus came to Aries.
If you go to Aries today you will be able to form some conception of the city to which he came, for some of the old Roman buildings are still standing, notably the arena, which easily holds some 25,000 people. St. Trophimus is known there as the first bishop of the city. Some stones, said to be of the first-century church or oratory built by him, are shown to you as still standing, and the later cathedral (originally dedicated to St. Stephen the first martyr) was rededicated to the memory of St. Trophimus when his body was removed here in 1152. The cathedral is still called the cathedral of St. Trophime, and the tomb of St. Trophimus forms a font or baptistery on the left side of the nave as you enter it.7
The local history of St. Trophimus is that he came from the East - was of Greek nationality and the personal friend of St. Peter and St. Paul. St. Paul is reported to have visited him on one of his missionary journeys, and the house (or site of the house) in which they met is pointed out to you and known as 'La maison des Saints'.
But the great glory of Aries in which St. Trophimus participates (for his connection with it has left an ineffaceable impress of his own on all its beauty) is the vast Pagan or Pagan and Christian cemetery of 'les Aliscamps'. For acres upon acres the earth is honeycombed with graves. As you look today8 at the railway cutting which runs right through the old burial-ground you see many graves laid open by the spade and pickaxe revealing the sarcophagi within, and yet in spite of this and of the profanation of so much of the holy place by railway, workshops, high-road and canal, as you enter the long avenue of trees and see many of the old monuments still standing, it is quite possible to understand and to feel something of
7 His body was subsequently moved to Autun.
8 Recent enlargements of the railway cuttings and station have destroyed many of the graves which used to lie open for inspection.
that earlier beauty and sacred association which made it for so many centuries the favourite resting-place of Christians.
For here one of the sweetest and best of all old Christian legends - the legend of the Genouillade, a legend that may yet carry a useful lesson to many Churchmen of today - came into being, and the mind which fashioned it or the eyes which saw the vision in 'les Aliscamps' belonged to St. Trophimus.
Les Aliscamps, or the Elysian fields, had been already a Pagan cemetery long before St. Trophimus came to Aries. You can still see the old Roman sarcophagi both of this period and of later times, many carved with loving inscriptions, and with the usual invocation to the gods (D.M.), showing the Pagan belief of those who buried them; and when St. Trophimus came and gathered round him early Christian converts, it soon became an important matter to decide whether these should be buried among their relatives and friends in the old Pagan cemetery or seek for some special and distinctive place of burial. It was not an easy question to decide, for no people perhaps thought so much of the sacredness of the lifeless clay which had once been a temple of the Holy Spirit, and no people sacrificed more to secure for this a Christian, safe and quiet resting-place than did the very earliest Christians.
And, as St. Trophimus paced the cemetery through the summer night considering what it was right and best to do, we are told that a light shone in the darkness and Christ Himself appeared to him. Kneeling among the tombs, as if identifying Himself with those whose bodies were resting underneath the soil, the Saviour was seen to raise His hands and to solemnly bless the Pagan burial-place.
Henceforth no doubt was felt as to the reality of this heavenly consecration. On the spot where our Saviour knelt St. Trophimus erected an altar, and from that time 'les Aliscamps' became the coveted burial-place of all Christians.
Whether this is the record of an actual vision or the poetical way in which the Greek described to Greeks the light which God had given him, there can be no doubt of the result. Christian tombs lie side by side with Pagan, and tradition tells us that so eager were many Christians for burial here that - something like the body of Elaine, which was sent down the river to the court of King Arthur in the Arthurian legends - bodies of saints from distant countries came floating down the Rhone in funeral barges, seeking for reception in the holy ground which Christ had consecrated.
The altar chapel of the Genouillade, or kneeling Saviour, now stands hard by the Marseilles road at some distance from the preserved part of the cemetery, while in the latter we find the ruins of the Church of St Honorat (built on the site of the Pagan temple of Jupiter), with the oratory of St. Trophimus leading from it. This, when originally built by St. Trophimus, is said to have been dedicated by him to the Virgin Mother of our Lord, who at that time was still living at Ephesus. The chapel is said to have borne the following inscription:
Dei parae ad hue viventi.’9
St. Trophimus is reported to have died at Aries on November 28th, A.D. 94, and after a temporary occupation of the See by St. Denis he was succeeded by Regulus.
The succession after Regulus is uncertain. Owing to a short series of careless, and finally heretical, bishops, the names of these have been purposely omitted from the records of the See. The chief of these bishops was the 'proud and froward Marcianus' (see Appendix F), who was probably deposed towards the latter end of the third century, and was succeeded by Marinus.
Four miles from Aries, at Montmajeur, is still shown the hermitage of St. Trophimus - a series of four little chambers near the chapel of St. Pierre. This sufficed him for his daily needs, and catechumens and penitents are supposed to have come here for instruction and counsel.
First there is a cell, or chamber of waiting, and as you enter this two early Christian graves are seen, cut in the solid rock. Beyond this are two small chambers called the confessional of St. Trophime - the one for the priest and the other for the kneeling penitent. Beyond this, again, there is a large chamber or cave in which St. Trophimus is said to have lived for ten years, the tradition being that this was the scene of his earliest labour, that here he converted a colony of Moors who had established themselves at Montmajeur, and that afterwards he removed to Aries.
In the living chamber there are traces of an extremely old private stairway and exit. It is perhaps worthy of remark that this chamber or cave, and also the traditional representations of St. Trophime, are perfectly
9 The third historical Council of Aries in 453 is said to have been held in the Church of St. Marie Majeure. Did this Church take the place of the original oratory? To the south of this are found the remains of the chapel of St. Madeleine, dating from the Roman period.
consistent with the picture I have drawn of him as a man of fine stature and of noble bearing.
Such are the main glimpses of the life of St. Trophimus given us by tradition after he parted from St. Paul at Caesarea. They met again two or three times, I think - once, perhaps (according to tradition) in Aries itself, and once, certainly, at Miletum, when Trophimus, as nearly every missionary does, was either returning home for a temporary visit or going back to work - most likely when going back to Aries from Ephesus, where he had been to meet St. Paul, to see his friends, and to interest the Ephesian Christians in his mission.10 That he succeeded in doing this appears to be evident from the fact that the Churches of Gaul and Asia retained a lively interest in each other's welfare, and the only rival for the tomb of St. Mary Magdalene is Ephesus, where a namesake of the real St. Mary is said to have suffered martyrdom.
The reasons for not accepting the account of this martyrdom and burial as referring to the true St. Mary Magdalene are well given by Faillon (vol. i, p. 369).
Further details regarding the (second) meeting with St. Paul and all that followed this may be gathered from the Second Epistle to Timothy, which was written from Rome when St. Paul had been 'brought before Nero a second time'.
Let us consider what St. Paul had been doing while Trophimus was working at Aries. He had had a long and adventurous journey to Rome - well described for us in the Acts of the Apostles - and after this had lived in Rome for at least two years, 'dwelling in his own hired house, receiving all who came unto him, preaching the Kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus with all confidence, no man forbidding him' (Acts 28 130, 31). During this time Aristarchus and Epaphras had been his fellow-prisoners, St. Luke and St. Mark his voluntary companions, Demas - until the great persecution came - one of his trusted friends, and Onesimus (the servant or slave[?] of Philemon) his special attendant. After this time he had in all probability been formally tried and acquitted, and was once more a free man, able to leave Rome and to journey where he pleased.
10 The return to some definite Council of the Church for the purpose of reporting what he had done and the condition of the Christians under his care, is almost a necessary consequence of his suggested commission by St. Paul; it is also in strict accordance with the precedents afforded by the pre-Christian Apostolate (of which St. Paul, as Saul, had been probably a member). See note 00 p. 50 and also Acts 4:2.
Such a great deliverance, such a happy ending of all the troubles and anxieties of the past five years, would naturally call for some celebration - some special Eucharistic gathering.
What would be more natural than that the thoughts of St. Paul should turn to St. Timothy, his dearly beloved disciple and friend - his own ‘son in the faith’? And what more natural again than that other disciple and friend, St. Trophimus, who was the friend of both, and who had been the innocent cause of St. Paul's imprisonment, should wish to join them in their happy meeting? We have very good reason to believe that St. Paul and St. Mark set out from Rome for Ephesus, and that most of the old companions of St. Paul arranged to meet him there.11
Timothy, who had been appointed bishop of the Church at Ephesus, was already residing there.
Trophimus, as we believe, came home from Gaul, arranging his visit so as to be present with St. Paul at Ephesus; Aquila and Priscilla either accompanied St. Paul or preceded him, having again had to leave their residence in Rome; and Erastus the Chamberlain came from Corinth to take part in the rejoicing and reunion.
Whether Aristarchus, who had accompanied St. Paul on his first journey to Rome, and had been his fellow-prisoner through all the time of waiting, was set free at the same time as the Apostle and returned to Ephesus with him, we are not told, but three at least of the old company who, five years previously, had worked and taught and suffered and waited and journeyed together - Timothy, Trophimus and Paul - would meet in Ephesus and be able to tell one another of fresh fields won for Christ and to praise God for all the light that had come out of darkness and the glory out of suffering.
And then the happy conference and fellowship was again rather hurriedly and rudely disturbed. The cause of this was, most likely, the news of the great Neronean persecution in Rome, for St. Paul is suddenly called back, and the occasion seems urgent and dangerous. He will not take St. Mark, but leaves him with St. Timothy. Erastus, St. Trophimus and St. Paul leave Ephesus together, St. Trophimus probably intending to journey all the way to Rome in company with St. Paul, and then to take the great north road alone from Rome to Aries. But sudden sickness or the anticipation of serious dangers involved by the returning journey appear to have
11 “It is . . . likely that (St. Paul) revisited Asia Minor, and coming back too soon to Rome, perished in the persecution of A.D. 64” (Life and Principate of Nero, by Bernard Henderson, M.A., Methuen & Co., p. 346).
been too great for St. Trophimus to bear. They have scarcely left Ephesus when St. Trophimus is taken ill - so ill that he is obliged to be left at Miletus, and St. Paul and Erastus go on without him. When they reach Corinth Erastus remains there, and the rest of the journey (from Corinth to Rome) is taken by St. Paul alone.
On arriving there the shadows seem to close around him. At first he is occupied with the care of the Churches. He sends Crescens to Gaul, probably to supply the place of St. Trophimus - who must now be absent for several months - and Titus to Dalmatia. Both probably start together, going in company as far as the north of Italy and then separating, Titus going to the East and Crescens to the West.12
The little company of Christians in Rome - all that have been left after the recent persecution - are still further harassed by trials, defections and other losses.
St. Paul is taken prisoner a second time soon after his return, and this time has sad forebodings of the future. He says, “I am ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.” St. Tychicus he sends to Ephesus to supply the place of St. Timothy, at the same time pathetically begging St. Timothy and St. Mark to come to him that he may see St. Timothy before he dies. He evidently feels his loneliness: “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world - only Luke is with me.” Even the reunion at Ephesus appears to have been spoilt by the maliciousness of Alexander, and the too short time of freedom is succeeded by the settled presage of approaching martyrdom.
Yet, through the whole chapter, I think, there lies an undercurrent of remembrance of the old happy, vigorous days before his imprisonment, when Tychicus, Trophimus, Timothy and St. Paul lived and worked together; of the days of the Ephesus riots; of nights and days upon the blue Aegean, when Christ was very near to them; and of many times of sweet companionship in seasons of peril and of parting when, as on the coast at Tyre, the loving words and deeds of the disciples had made a very Paradise of danger.
Was there a third and final meeting between St. Paul and
12 I know that in most of our Bibles the passage is written 'Crescens to Galatia', but in the Codex Sinaiticus the word is 'Gallia' (see Revised Version), and both Gaul and the province of Galatia were equally called Galatia in the time of St. Paul, while the coupling with Dalmatia is very much more consonant with this reading than with the usual interpretation. In addition to this, too, both Eusebius and Epiphanius very definately state that Crescens was sent to Gaul, and in the list of the seventy Apostles drawn up by Dorotheus, Crescens in enumerated as Bishop of Chalcedon in Gaul; in that drawn up by Hippolytus he appears as Cresces, Bishop of Charcedon in Gaul; while according to Sophronius he was the founder of the Church of Vienne in Gaul (Encyclopaedia Biblica).
St. Trophimus? In spite of the local tradition of his death, did St. Trophimus ever return to Aries?
In the writings of Hippolytus we come across one pregnant sentence regarding him: “Trophimus, who was martyred along with Paul.”
So that we have some grounds for believing that as soon as St. Trophimus was better, he did not (as he might have done) evade the danger of the journey through Rome. If his courage had failed him at the outset of the journey, he hastened to rejoin St. Paul, stayed with him and shared with him the sufferings and the darkness of the final days, and (possibly) hand-in-hand with him obtained the martyr's crown.
The following are some of the chief dates as given in history, or in the chronicles of 'Matthew of Paris':
Archelaus banished to Vienne in Gaul….6
Pilate banished to Vienne in Gaul….38
Herod Antipas banished to Lyons in Gaul….39
St. Peter comes to Rome….41
St. Mark preaches in Aquileia and writes his Gospel….42
Martyrdom of St. James the Greater….43
Invasion of Britain by Claudius….44
Coming of St. Mary and St. Martha to Provence….47
Coming of St. Trophimus to Aries….57 (?)
Ordination of Linus and Cletus by St. Peter….59
Death of Mary Magdalene….63
Martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul….66
Death of St. John ….95
TO BE CONTINUED
AGAIN, VERY INTERESTING HISTORY OF SOME OF THE DISCIPLES OF THE LORD, AND THE WORK OF EVANGELIZING - Keith Hunt