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Successor to Antonius Felix as Procurator of judaea. He inherited from his predecessor the awkward charges leveled by the Jews against Paul (Acts 25:1-12). Rather than create unrest by offending the Jews, Festus offered to transfer the trial to Jerusalem. But Paul, aware of the bitter enmity of the Jews and their conspiracy to kill him, demanded his right as a Roman citizen to appeal for justice before the tribunal of Caesar. The curios King Herod Agrippa II agreed to hear the case (Acts 25:22), and the indomitable Paul described eloquently the story of his conversion and ministry (Acts 26). Festus interrupted him, shouting, "Paul, you are out your mind; all that learning of yours is driving you mad" (Acts 26:24). But, fortunately for the accused, his sincerity impressed King Agrippa, who observed with a touch of imperial humor, "A little more, and your arguments would make a Christian of me" (Acts 26:29). Paul was judged innocent and set free.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.