Footsteps of St. Paul…Veroia

First mentioned in the writings of Thudydides in 432 BC, Veroia is an old city even by the standards of Greece. There is evidence that Veroia, historically also spelled Berea, was populated as early as 1000 BC. St. Paul came to the city and preached during Roman Rule, and its residents were among the first Christians in the Empire. Under the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, Veroia was known as an intellectual center of culture and learning. Today, Veroia retains its intellectual persona and is also a commercial center. 

There has always been a strong Jewish presence in the city, and as such, the present day Veroia is a stop for both religious tours of both the Christian and Jewish faiths. Its history is documented through the ages, and the town has played significant roles in the struggle for Greek independence, and as recently as with the WWII occupation. 

The town’s Jewish quarter is being renovated now, and to the historic one-room synagogue is one of the oldest that was not destroyed by the Nazis who killed 780 out of 800 Jews from Veroia. Those who were not captured escaped into the mountains and joined the resistance.

Largely because of the presence of a Jewish synagogue, St. Paul visited Veroia and preached Christianity to its citizens.  The Book of Acts describes how he left Thessaloniki (covered in this blog on Monday’s post) and came to Veroia (Berea). 

Within the city there was a Jewish settlement where the Apostle Paul,[5] after leaving Thessalonica, and his companion Silas preached to the Jewish and Greek communities of the city in AD 50/51 or 54/55. The Bible records:

As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men. When the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, they went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. The brothers immediately sent Paul to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed at Berea. The men who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.

— Acts 17:10-15

The town of Veroia has built a small park and alter to mark the location Apostle Paul spoke from during his time there.