[St. Pachomius Library]

Cæsarea Maritima

The capital city of Roman imperial Palestine. It was built on the site of an older town by Herod the Great as a naval base and a port for Samaria. In 6 BC, the new city was chosen as headquarters of the Roman occupation; an inscription mentioning Pontius Pilate is among the city's most famous antiquities. St. Cornelius the Centurion was based here, and the first gentile church was organised in his home. After the destruction of Jerusalem, Cæsarea was the largest city in Palestine and the undisputed capital; its bishop had primacy over Jerusalem's until the Fourth Ecumenical Council. The city had already begun to decline in importance at the time of the Arab conquest, but it lasted until the XIII Century, when it was razed and converted into a quarry for building materials. The surviving ruins are an Israeli National Park.

When Origen was exiled from Alexandria, he moved to Cæsarea and founded a Christian college where he taught for the next fifty years. The college's library, repeatedly expanded over the centuries, was among the best in the Empire, and famous scholars like St. Jerome and the church historian Eusebius conducted much of their research in its collections.

Norman Hugh Redington


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