Quo Vadis

According to a legend first recorded in the apocryphal book (a work of doubtful authenticity) called the Acts of St. Peter, this was the portion of the question Domine quo vadis? (“Lord, where do You go?”).

These words were allegedly spoken by St. Peter when he met Christ as Peter was supposedly fleeing from Rome along the Appian Way (this Roman road was one of the earliest, around 312 B.C. and strategically most important of the ancient republic by connecting Rome to southeastern Italy).

St. Peter asked where He was going and the alleged reply was, “I am coming to be crucified again.”  This was understood by St. Peter to mean that He (Christ) was to be persecuted again in the person of His Apostle.  So St. Peter returned to Rome and was martyred.

There is a small church called Domine Quo Vadis, which was built in the seventeenth century on the Appian Way to commemorate this event.

The words of St. Peter’s became the title of a famous historical novel, Quo Vadis: A Narrative of the Time of Nero, by Henryk Sienkiewicz in 1895.  His novel has been made into motion pictures several times, including a 1951 version that was nominated for eight Academy Awards.  Sienkiewicz was a Polish-born author and Noble Prize Laureate.

In the small church of Domine Quo Vadis, there is a bronze bust of Sienkiewicz, who is said to have been inspired to write his novel while sitting there.  (6:41)