- The Catholic Thing - https://www.thecatholicthing.org -

Where are you going?

About dawn of the following day two dark figures were moving along the Appian Way toward the Campania. One of them was Nazarius; the other the Apostle Peter, who was leaving Rome and his martyred co-religionists. The sky in the east was assuming a light tinge of green, bordered gradually and more distinctly on the lower edge with saffron color. Silver-leafed trees, the white marble of villas, and the arches of aqueducts, stretching through the plain toward the city, were emerging from shade. The greenness of the sky was clearing gradually, and becoming permeated with gold. Then the east began to grow rosy and illuminate the Alban Hills, which seemed marvellously beautiful, lily-colored, as if formed of rays of light alone. The light was reflected in trembling leaves of trees, in the dew-drops. The haze grew thinner, opening wider and wider views on the plain, on the houses dotting it, on the cemeteries, on the towns, and on groups of trees, among which stood white columns of temples. The road was empty. The villagers who took vegetables to the city had not succeeded yet, evidently, in harnessing beasts to their vehicles. From the stone blocks with which the road was paved as far as the mountains, there came a low sound from the bark shoes on the feet of the two travellers. Then the sun appeared over the line of hills; but at once a wonderful vision struck the Apostle’s eyes. It seemed to him that the golden circle, instead of rising in the sky, moved down from the heights and was advancing on the road. Peter stopped, and asked,— “Seest thou that brightness approaching us?” “I see nothing,” replied Nazarius. But Peter shaded his eyes with his hand, and said after a while, “Some figure is coming in the gleam of the sun.” But not the slightest sound of steps reached their ears. It was perfectly still all around. Nazarius saw only that the trees were quivering in the distance, as if some one were shaking them, and the light was spreading more broadly over the plain. He looked with wonder at the Apostle. “Rabbi! what ails thee?” cried he, with alarm. The pilgrim’s staff fell from Peter’s hands to the earth; his eyes were looking forward, motionless; his mouth was open; on his face were depicted astonishment, delight, rapture. Then he threw himself on his knees, his arms stretched forward; and this cry left his lips,— “O Christ! O Christ!” He fell with his face to the earth, as if kissing some one’s feet. The silence continued long; then were heard the words of the aged man, broken by sobs,— “Quo vadis, Domine?” Nazarius did not hear the answer; but to Peter’s ears came a sad and sweet voice, which said,— “If thou desert my people, I am going to Rome to be crucified a second time.”