SAINTS AQUILA AND PRISCILLA (?-64), martyrs
Today, the Church honors Saint Aquila and his wife Saint Priscilla, Jewish contemporaries of Saint Paul. In Paul’s Letters, he sometimes refers to Priscilla as Prisca, possibly a nickname for Priscilla.
Nothing is known of their early years, other than, sometime between the years 45-50 A.D., they arrived in Corinth after having fled Rome by order of the emperor Claudius, due to disturbances and disputes between the Jews and Christians in Rome. In was in Corinth where they met the Apostle Paul, who joined them in their trade of tentmaking (Acts 18:1-3).
They, in turn, joined him in his mission of proclaiming the Christian Gospel. The couple later traveled with Paul from Corinth to Ephesus (Acts 18:18), where the two of them established a home that served as a place of hospitality and worship for new converts to Christianity.
Apollos was one of their numerous Jewish pupils in the faith. An eloquent man, Apollos “…with ardent spirit, spoke and taught accurately about Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John” (Acts 18:25bc). It was Aquila and Priscilla who took Apollos aside and “…explained to him the Way (of God) more accurately” (Acts 18:26b), since Apollos had no awareness of the Holy Spirit. They are also mentioned in Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy (2 Tim 4:19).
At some point, Aquila and Priscilla returned to Rome, possibly due to the uprising against the Christians in Ephesus which we find in Acts 19:23-40. For Paul writes in his Letter to the Romans, “Greet Prisca and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I am grateful but also all the churches of the Gentiles; greet also the church at their house” (Romans 16:3-5a). In this Scripture passage, we learn that Aquila and Priscilla kept their house in Rome as a place of worship.
Tradition tells us that they were martyred during Nero’s persecution of the Christians in Rome in 64 A.D. As devoted husband and wife to one another, theirs was a life of Christian charity and hospitality, co-workers with Saint Paul in bringing the Truth of Jesus Christ to the fledgling Church – a new and yet constantly growing community of Christian believers.
We commemorate their joint feastday on July 8.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, stellarcross.org and newadvent.org)
(The following is the traditional prayer in contemporary English for Saints Aquila and Priscilla)
“God of grace and might, we praise You for Your servants Aquila and Priscilla, to whom You gave gifts to make the Good News known. Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds and evangelists of Your Kingdom, so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”