Conversion of Saint Paul

Conversion of Saint Paul

Saul belonged to the tribe of Benjamin and was a Jew. His fervor for Jewish law and customs, which he believed to be the will of God, much exceeded that of any of his contemporaries. As a result, he became one of the greatest adversaries and persecutors of Christians. He was among those who plotted St. Stephen's martyrdom.

Following the martyrdom, Jewish priests and judges launched a brutal persecution of the church in Jerusalem, in which Saul elevated himself above the rest.

In a fit of fervor, he begged the Sanhedrin and high priest for permission to round up all Jews in Damascus who had accepted Jesus Christ and bring them imprisoned in Jerusalem so that they could act as living examples to inspire fear in others.

However, Saul was the object of God's patience and mercy when, at midday, he and his companions were encircled by a bright light from heaven and collapsed to the earth. Saul was nearly finished with his journey to Damascus. Then Saul heard a voice that, while clear and coherent to him, was unclear to the others: "Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me? Saul said: "Who art thou, Lord?" Christ said: "Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecute. It is hard for thee to kick against the goad: - to contend with one so much mightier than thyself."

In Damascus, there lived a distinguished Christian named Ananius, who was highly regarded by the Jews for his impeccable character and exceptional life. This saintly disciple saw Christ, who gave him the order to go to Saul, who was at that very moment praying in Judas' home. Ananias shuddered at the mention of Saul, knowing the evils he had committed in Jerusalem and the mission he had come to Damascus to complete. However, our Saviour dispelled his doubts and urged him to go a second time, saying: "Go, for he is a vessel of election to carry my name before Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel: and I will show him how much he has to suffer for my name. For tribulation is the test and portion of all the true servants of Christ."

Thus, God appointed a blasphemer and persecutor to be an apostle and one of his main tools for converting the world.

St. Paul never spoke about his amazing conversion—from which many blessings have flowed—without praising and thanking God for His kindness. The Church established this feast, which is mentioned in several calendars and missals from the eighth and ninth centuries and which Pope Innocent III ordered to be observed with great solemnity, as a way to give thanks to God for such a miracle of his grace, to commemorate such a miraculous instance of his almighty power, and to offer penitents a perfect model of true conversion.

Other Saints of the Day
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Saint Poppo
Saint Dwynwen
Saint Racho
Saint Eochod of Galloway

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