As soon as he looked into the face of the man known as Paul, he understood that he was in the presence of greatness. What a preacher this man was! And what a message he was carrying out to the world - this electrifying message of salvation from sin and death through faith in the Holy Redeemer, Jesus Christ of Nazareth!
The conversion of the Apostle Aquila took place in Rome, but his passionate determination to become a disciple of Christ occurred later in the Greek city of Corinth, probably in the year 52 A.D. - after he listened to St. Paul's fiery descriptions of the Galilean who had died on the Cross out of love for mankind. Previously Jewish citizens of Rome, Aquila and his loyal spouse Priscilla had come to Corinth after the Roman Emperor Claudius (41-54) decreed that the Jews should be driven from Rome and Italy for suspected sedition. And it was here, in the thriving Greek city of that era, that they would host St. Paul and join him in converting the world to the Good News of the Gospel.
For the high-spirited and deeply pious Aquila, the exile from Rome was no accident. It came about through the Providence of Almighty God, who in His wisdom had decided to bring St. Paul into Aquila's home in Corinth. Once the two men met and talked together, the future of this courageous servant of the Lord was clear. He would go on to become one of "The Seventy" - the large group of disciples that would be recruited by the Original Twelve, after the arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, to carry the Good News of the Gospel out to the entire world.
Enormously energized by St. Paul - who would live in their house at Corinth for a year and a half - both Aquila and Priscilla would become extremely zealous evangelists for the new faith, and would accompany the Great Apostle on to Ephesus (now part of Turkey) so that he could continue his efforts to build new Christian churches all across the Middle East. And indeed, Paul would acknowledge their great help in a well-known greeting in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, written from Ephesus: Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the Church that is their house (1 Corinthians 16:19).
Among the many wonders that were worked in Ephesus by Aquila and Priscilla, none would prove to be more significant than their conversion to the Holy Gospel of a highly educated man from Alexandria, Apollos, who was well versed in the prophecies of John the Baptist, but had not yet learned of the teachings of Christ. Patiently schooled by this protege of St. Paul and his thoughtful spouse, Apollos would eventually become a Christian of enormous faith, a bishop of Caesarea in Palestine - and even one of the Seventy himself!
After completing many great labors in Greece, where they helped St. Paul with his apostolic duties almost daily, these two enthusiastic Christians would learn that the Emperor Claudius had finally died (in 54) which allowed them to return to their adopted city of Rome. Eventually appointed a bishop, Aquila would go on to baptize hundreds of new Christians at Ephesus and elsewhere before finally being martyred at the hands of murderous pagans who greatly resented his destruction of their idols and his closing of their temples.
Originally from Pontus in Asia Minor (now part of modern Turkey and located along the coast of the Black Sea), St. Aquila was born around 20 A.D. and grew up to become a tent-maker like his great mentor, St. Paul.
Although he did not live in the Holy Land per se, Aquila's spiritual influence was felt greatly there - especially through his profound friendship with the Great St. Paul.
After his conversion in Rome and his decision to join St. Paul in converting the pagans of Greece, Aquila would go on to become a bishop (appointed by Paul) in Asia Minor. He preached with great courage and determination in Achaeia and Herakleia, while also establishing presbyters and destroying idols. Assisted by St. Priscilla in all these efforts, he achieved the glory of martyrdom around 80 A.D., according to most historians of the period … who also tell us that his loyal spouse died at his side.
The life of the Holy Apostle Aquila of the Seventy offers us a revealing insight into the immense power to be found in preaching the Holy Word of God. Aquila and Priscilla were thoughtful Christians, having been converted in Rome - but when they heard the preaching of Paul at Corinth, their new faith became incandescent and their lives became energized with a powerful desire to bring as many as they could to the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ. Armed with the force of persuasion that comes only from Almighty God, preachers like St. Paul and St. Aquila went out onto the highways and byways to tell the wonderful story of Salvation in Jesus - and they changed the world!