Monday, January 21, 2013

Quo vadis

Quo vadis? is a Latin phrase meaning "Where are you going?" or "Whither goest thou?"
 The modern usage of the phrase refers to a Christian tradition regarding Saint Peter. According to the apocryphal Acts of Peter (Vercelli Acts XXXV), Peter is fleeing from likely crucifixion in Rome at the hands of the government, and along the road outside the city he meets a risen Jesus. Peter asks Jesus "Quo vadis?", to which He replies, "Romam vado iterum crucifigi." ("I am going to Rome to be crucified again"). Peter thereby gains the courage to continue his ministry and returns to the city, to eventually be martyred by being crucified upside-down.
The phrase also occurs a few times in the Vulgate translation of the Bible, notably in John 13:36 when Peter asks Jesus the same question, to which he responds, "Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me."
The history of the extraordinary love of a young Roman patrician and the beautiful Christian girl has been affecting and fascinating subsequent generations of readers for over one hundred years. The tense plot and an excellent, clear, and colourful picture of Rome during Nero's reign, ensured a huge popularity of the novel and a world-wide fame forSienkiewicz, leading to the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1905. The novel was translated into films several times. We will soon be able to admire its Polish version directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz.
In 2001 the Polish Post introduced six postal stamps, each one of the face value of PLN 1.00. The whole series was published in the form of an ornamental publishing sheet, containing various sets of photographs from the film set (just like those represented in the stamps). Individual stamps  on these three lovely covers depict the following persons and events:
- Ligia, Vinicius, Petrinius against the Roman architecture at the background,
- singing Nero in one of the scenes of a feast,
- Peter the Apostle in the Roman catacombs during secret prayers of the Christians and a scene of the baptism of Chilon Chilonides,
- Chilon Chilonides against the great fire of Rome,
- Ligia tied to the back of the aurochs and Ursus, after a victorious fight with the auroch, holding Ligia in his arms, with Christians in the amphitheatre in the background,
- Peter the Apostle, Vinicius and Ligia blessed by Peter.
On the day the stamps were issued, 3 types of first day envelopes (FDCs) with a special cancellation of the Post Office Warsaw 1 were also released. These three FDCs are now on view here, kind courtesy of my friend Krystyna from Poland.

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