The Conversion of Saint Paul

Saint Paul is one of the most important saints.  Many of his writings are included in the New Testament of the Bible.  Saint Paul was originally known as Saul.  He was a Roman citizen and a Jewish Pharisee. The Pharisees were the Jewish people who believed in the strictest following of the law. He was a person of privilege. Being a person of privilege means you have special rights or advantages that other people don’t have. His parents had sent him to Jerusalem to get an education in Jewish law.  He studied under a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish courts. He also needed to learn a trade according to Jewish law.  He probably learned to make tents.  

He supervised the persecutions of early Christians.  He was present when Saint Stephen was martyred. He was so good at persecuting the early Christians that even his name caused terror to the faithful. He had people pulled from their homes, put them in chains, and sent them to prison. He then seized their property. 

The Conversion is believed to have happened between 33-36 AD.  Saul’s entire life changed when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Saul had nearly reached the city of Damascus, at about noon.  He and his men were surrounded by a light brighter than the sun. They heard a voice, but only Saul understood the voice asking, “Saul, why do you persecute me?” Saul was blinded and was taken to a Jew’s house in Damascus.  He didn’t eat or drink for three days. 

Then God told Ananias to go to Saul and heal him. Even Ananias shook at Saul’s name, but he went anyway. Ananias put his hands on Saul and told him Jesus who he had seen on the road was the same Jesus who was now healing him. Something like scales fell from his eyes and he could see.  Saul was baptized, changed his name to Paul.  He stayed with the disciples for a few days before going out and preaching.  

His sudden change must have confused many Jews.  They grew very angry with him, having him arrested and trying to kill him. He became one of the church’s greatest preachers. Paul’s life became about telling and living out the message of the Cross.  

Saint Paul is one of the only saints who has a feast day on his conversion instead of his death.