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Peter in Rome: Quo Vadis?

The late second-century, apocryphal Acts of Peter has mostly survived in a Latin translation in a codex from the sixth/seventh century CE found at Vercelli, Italy. In chapter 35, we have a powerful scene where Peter has been persuaded to flee from the local persecution of Christians in Rome under the emperor Nero. However, he encounters the Lord entering the city and asks “Lord, where are you going?” (Domine, quo vadis). Jesus replied that he was going to Rome to be crucified again and then Peter saw Jesus ascend into heaven. From this point on, Peter resolved to meet his fate in Rome and the text goes on to recount his arrest, his crucifixion with his head facing downward, and his dying testament. The upside-down cross symbolized the fallen state of the world brought about by the first human. If you do not want to read the text, you can listed to this portion of the text online at “Acts of Peter 7/8” (chapter 35 starts at the 7.10 minute mark) and “Acts of Peter 8/8.” The Quo Vadis story has become a much beloved legend about Peter, inspiring the church on Appian Way, the famous painting by Annibail Carracci, and the 1951 Best Picture nominated movie.

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