Sacred geography: the travels of the apostles in the Holy Land

This late seventeenth-century engraving charts the missionary journeys undertaken by St Paul and his colleagues. It takes the form of a map of the entire eastern Mediterranean from Italy to Mesopotamia and shows Paul’s voyage from Jerusalem to Rome using a combination of dotted lines and small ships. In the lower portion of this print, which was the work of the cartographer and bookseller Richard Blome, are inset portraits of thirteen apostles. It also contains a dedication to and the heraldic shield of the baronet who subsidised its preparation. Part of a profitable trade in pictures suitable for display in the homes of devout Protestants, this broadside engraving also reflects the preoccupation with biblical mapping that developed within the reformed tradition. Conceived as aids to understanding Scripture, such maps enabled the faithful to experience the truth attested in the pages of the New Testament vicariously. Modelled on illustrations inserted in various sixteenth-century editions of the bible, this print reflects a fascination with the geographical setting in which the story of early Christianity was played out. It evokes the memory of an era of heroic labour to plant the faith that occupied a critical place in the Protestant imagination. AW

Richard Blome, A mapp of the travels and voyages of the Apostles in their mission and in particular of Saint Paul ([London: Richard Blome, 1680?]).

CUL: Maps. Bb.17.F. 19

Further Reading

Catherine Delano-Smith and Elizabeth Morley Ingram, Maps in Bibles 1500–1600: An Illustrated Catalogue (Geneva, 1991).

Zur Shalev, Sacred Words and Worlds: Geography, Religion, and Scholarship, 1550–1700 (Leiden, 2012).

Adam G. Beaver, ‘Scholarly Pilgrims: Antiquarian Visions of the Holy Land’, in Katherine van Liere, Simon Ditchfield, and Howard Louthan (eds), Sacred History: Uses of the Christian Past in the Renaissance World (Oxford, 2012), pp. 267–83.

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