St. Paul escapes stoning at Iconium
Where is Iconium where St. Paul and St. Barnabas were almost killed?
The city of Iconium is in central Turkey or ancient Asia Minor. Today it is called Konya and it is a large, heavily Muslim city with 2 million people, making it the fourth largest city in Turkey. When I was in Konya, there was a riot going on, but no one seemed to get hurt. In Konya is a beautiful small modern Catholic Church called St. Paul’s. Fortunately the pastor there spoke English and said that many German Catholic construction workers stationed in Konya would attend Mass there. D. Darke says Konya is Turkey’s most religious city and the center of the carpet trade.
In Iconium, St. Paul and St. Barnabas c. A.D. 50 spoke in the Jewish synagogue about Jesus and convinced many Jews and Greeks. But some of the townspeople disagreed with Paul and Barnabas and planned to stone them to death. So Paul and Barnabas fled to another town. A legend says that St. Paul met St. Thecla in Iconium, and she wanted to be baptized. For her safety, too, St. Thecla had to flee Iconium and follow St. Paul to Antioch in Syria.
E. Blake says Iconium is on the western edge of a great plain where clouds of dust in summer and blizzards of snow in winter sometimes sweep across the city. It is an extremely old city going back to the Hittite times in the third millennium B.C. G. Horobin points out various places of interest in the modern city of Konya. There is the Mevlana Tekke monastery with a fountained court, the cells of the monks, the coffins of the abbots, a chapel and a manuscript room. Next door is the Selimiye Mosque from A.D. 1566, whose substantial columns rise to a high dome. Further on is the Serafettin Cami, or open-style mosque with side chapels and a central dome. A distance away is the large circular Aladdin Park with the Aladdin mosque on the park’s hill. Inside this park are the remains of a Seljuk palace. There are many museums in Konya dealing with stone and wood carvings, ceramics and tile, carved tombstones, archaeology and human culture. Modern Konya is especially famous for the “Whirling dervishes,” where the novitiates of the Order of Dervishes attain their ultimate state of mystical perception in a formal dance.
H. Hoefer mentions that outside of Konya is the former Greek village of Sille where you can see the remains of the Church of St. Michael from 1732 and a series of hermit caves.
Further on is the village of Madensehir with its Byzantine and Roman monastic ruins called “A Thousand and One Churches.”