Ordinary Time: January 25th
Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle
St. Paul, named Saul at his circumcision, a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, was born at Tarsus, the capitol of Cilicia. He was a Roman citizen. He was brought up as a strict Jew, and later became a violent persecutor of the Christians. While on his way to Damascus to make new arrests of Christians, he was suddenly converted by a miraculous apparition of Our Lord. From a fierce persecutor he became the great Apostle of the Gentiles. He made three missionary journeys which brought him to the great centers of Asia Minor and southern Europe, and made many converts. Fourteen of his Epistles are found in the New Testament. He was beheaded in Rome in 66, and his body is kept in the Basilica of St. Paul near the Ostian Way.The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
St. PaulSt. Paul was born at Tarsus, Cilicia, of Jewish parents who were descended from the tribe of Benjamin. He was a Roman citizen from birth. As he was "a young man" at the stoning of Stephen and "an old man" when writing to Philemon, about the year 63, he was probably born around the beginning of the Christian era.To complete his schooling, St. Paul was sent to Jerusalem, where he sat at the feet of the learned Gamaliel and was educated in the strict observance of the ancestral Law. Here he also acquired a good knowledge of exegesis and was trained in the practice of disputation. As a convinced and zealous Pharisee, he returned to Tarsus before the public life of Christ opened in Palestine.Some time after the death of Our Lord, St. Paul returned to Palestine. His profound conviction made his zeal develop to a religious fanaticism against the infant Church. He took part in the stoning of the first martyr, St. Stephen, and in the fierce persecution of the Christians that followed.Entrusted with a formal mission from the high priest, he departed for Damascus to arrest the Christians there and bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was nearing Damascus, about noon, a light from heaven suddenly blazed round him. Jesus with His glorified body appeared to him and addressed him, turning him away from his apparently successful career.An immediate transformation was wrought in the soul of St. Paul. He was suddenly converted to the Christian Faith. He was baptized, changed his name from Saul to Paul, and began travelling and preaching the Faith. He was martyred as an Apostle in Rome around 65 AD. —Excerpted from Lives of the SaintsPatron: Against snakes; authors; Cursillo movement; evangelists; hailstorms; hospital public relations; journalists; lay people; missionary bishops; musicians; poisonous snakes; public relations personnel; public relations work; publishers; reporters; rope braiders; rope makers; saddlemakers; saddlers; snake bites; tent makers; writers; Malta; Rome; Poznan, Poland; newspaper editorial staff Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Diocese of Covington, Kentucky; Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama; Diocese of Las Vegas, Nevada; Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island; Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts.Symbols: Book and sword; three fountains; two swords; scourge; serpent and a fire; armour of God; twelve scrolls with names of his Epistles; phoenix; palm tree; shield of faith; sword; book.
Often portrayed as: Thin-faced elderly man with a high forehead, receding hairline and long pointed beard; man holding a sword and a book; man with 3 springs of water nearby.Things to do:
- Visit this section on Catholic Culture prepared for the Year of St. Paul in 2008.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Day 8, Beyond the familiar routes of separation to God’s new paths. “They left for their own country by another road.” (Matthew 2:12)
- Jeremiah 31:31-34, I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel.
- Matthew 11:25-30, Because you have hidden these things...
We do not know what the wise men thought–-they who were experts in astronomy and navigation--when they were warned to return by another road. They may well have been very confused, but the same light that illumined their journey showed them that there was another road, another possibility. They were called to change direction.
God’s divine providence is always there to show us that there is another way prepared for us. God is there to renew his covenant and lift us up from the frustration we experience when we meet an obstacle. A fresh start is always possible when we are willing and open to the work of the Spirit.
On the old familiar roads, Christian communities have walked apart from one another. On the new roads to which God calls us, Christians walk together and become pilgrim companions.
Gracious God, when we think that all roads are blocked, and we fall into despair, we always find you there. We find you creating a new path before us, one that we did not expect. We thank you because your creative paths open up unforeseen possibilities. Help us to always find you, who lead us yet by a more excellent way. We pray through Jesus Christ our Lord, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, that you will always lead us back to you. Amen.