Pope Benedict XVI's catechesis during this morning's General Audience was dedicated to the Roman couple Priscilla and Aquila, who collaborated with St. Paul in Corinth. The Holy Father emphasized how the early Church was born and grew in the homes of the faithful.
The Pope recalled that Priscilla and Aquila were expelled from Rome by the Emperor Claudius following disturbances in which some followers of Christ were implicated, they arrived in Corinth about the year 50 and there met Paul who, like them, was a tentmaker.
Due to her active role in the Christian community in Rome, the Pope noted, Priscilla, along with her husband Aquila played a vital role in the early Church, "welcoming into their house the groups of local Christians when they came together to hear the Word of God and celebrate the Eucharist.”
“This kind of meeting,” the Pontiff noted, “is called in Greek 'ecclesia.' ... Thus it was the Church that gathered in Priscilla and Aquila's house to celebrate Christ in the holy mysteries. So we see that the Church came into being in the houses of the believers.”
"Until the third century," the Holy Father added, "Christians did not have their own specific places of worship," and so during the first and second centuries "the houses of Christians became true 'churches.'”
“Thanks to the faith and the apostolic commitment of lay faithful, of families, and of couples like Priscilla and Aquila, Christianity has reached our own generation. It did not grow only thanks to the announcement of the Apostles. To put down roots in the people, to develop, it needed the commitment of these families, who provided the 'humus' for the growth of the faith,” the Pope emphasized.
"And still, it is only in this way that the Church grows. In particular, this couple showed how important the actions of Christian married couples are! ... All houses can be transformed into little churches."
"It is not by chance that in his Letter to the Ephesians, Paul compares the marriage bond to the communion that exists between Christ and the Church. We could even say that the Apostle indirectly models the entire life of the Church upon that of the family. The Church is, in truth, the family of God."
"So,” Benedict concluded, “we render homage to Aquila and Priscilla as models of a married life responsibly committed to the service of the entire Christian community. And in them we see the model of the Church, family of God for all times."