St. Paul and his writings have had a lasting impact on the Church. But his early appearances and persecutions of Christians in the New Testament make him an unlikely saint and one of the greatest converts to the faith.
Pharisee to Convert
St. Paul was a pharisee and a citizen of Rome, known originally as Saul. As a pharisee, he worked diligently to hunt down and persecute Christians of the early Church, and he was even present at the stoning of St. Stephen.
On the road to Damascus, one day, a great light and a loud voice made him fall of his horse. The voice asked, “Saul, Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” Saul asked who the voice was. The voice said, “I am Jesus, who you are persecuting.” After this encounter with the Lord, Saul was blinded, but a man named Ananias obeyed the Lord’s command to come minister and pray with Saul. Many of the apostles and followers of Jesus (including Ananias) had their doubts about Saul (now called Paul) because he had so vehemently persecuted them before his conversion.
Apostle to the Gentiles
Paul ministered to the Gentiles for the rest of his life, traveling to churches all over the Middle East, and writing them letters, while also being accompanied by several companions (like Barnabas, Timothy, Silas, and Titus). Thirteen letters are attributed to Paul in the canon of the New Testament. The Roman government (under Nero) captured and beheaded St. Paul, despite the fact that he was a Roman citizen. His insightful and transformational life, theology, witness, and martyrdom are still incredibly influential today. Read more about St. Paul here. The feast day of the Conversion of St. Paul is January 25 and you can read more here.
Why a beam of light?
Before Paul became the Paul we know, he was Saul, persecutor of Christians. While traveling one day on the road to Damascus, a bright light shocked and surrounded Saul and his companions, so much so that he fell off his horse. He then heard a voice say, “Why are you persecuting me?” He asked who was speaking and the voice said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting!” Saul was struck blind for a time, was later renamed Paul, and the rest is history!
Who would be friends with St. Paul?
- Converts (especially those from Judaism)
- Avid letter writers
- Postal workers
- Tentmakers (he was one too!)
- Sailors (he was shipwrecked once!)
Check out St. Paul’s medal in our shop, especially for any converts in your life or those receiving confirmation.