Sonia Halliday Photographs

Abundant work for tentmakers could be found in Rome in Prisca and Aquila’s time, perhaps explaining why they chose to pursue that craft. According to Pliny the Elder, “awnings of sailcloth” covered the Roman forum (shown here, compare with drawing of Roman marketplace) during the height of summer, after the first of August, and “Red awnings [were] used in the inner courts of houses to keep the sun off the moss growing there.”

How Prisca and Aquila first came to Rome is unknown, but their Latin names suggest that they may have been freed slaves of a great Roman family (see photo of the Catacomb of Priscilla). After moving to Corinth and then Ephesus, where they lived for many years, they returned to Rome, probably in spring of 55 (after the death of Claudius in the autumn of 54). There they created a new church within their home (Romans 16:5) and prepared the way for Paul’s intended arrival (Romans 1:10–13, 15:24).