Saul of Tarsus was born a Roman citizen and was a devout Jew, dedicated the Pharisaic traditions. From a young age, Saul learned to make mohair which would be used to make tents. He was a craftsman, much like our Lord. Still young, he was sent to Jerusalem for his education. By the time we get to his active participation in the martyr of St. Stephen, Saul, or by his Greek name, Paul, is qualified as a young man. A zealous Jew, persecuting the Christians for their blasphemy, Paul is a man to fear. But unsuspecting Paul had his life radically changed by a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul arose from the ground; and when his eyes were opened, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold he is praying, and he has seen a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil has had done to your saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized, and took food and was strengthened.
At this point, St. Paul was sent to be an Apostle to the Gentiles. His legacy has made history. He is the author of 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament. He made four missionary journeys to spread the faith and is the hero of many Christians, Catholic and Protestant alike. As a Protestant, St. Paul (or just ‘Paul’) was my favorite character of the New Testament and even rivaled Christ himself as the source of all I believed. As a Catholic I now see that St. Paul is very Catholic and I often feel that my conversion story is much the same as his: persecutor joins the persecuted. When I was confirmed I chose St. Paul as my patron saint and thus he is one of the numerous patrons honored through my blog.