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The Conversion of Saul

The Conversion of Saul by Julie Lonneman

Artist Narrative:

As I, Paul, drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” I replied, “Who are you, sir?” And he said to me, “I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.” My companions saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who spoke to me. I asked, “What shall I do, sir?” The Lord answered me, “Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told about everything appointed for you to do.” Since I could see nothing because of the brightness of that light, I was led by hand by my companions and entered Damascus.

A certain Ananias, a devout observer of the law, and highly spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me and stood there and said, “Saul, my brother, regain your sight.” And at that very moment I regained my sight and saw him. Then he said, “The God of our ancestors designated you to know his will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of his voice; for you will be his witness before all to what you have seen and heard.”
(Acts 22:6-15)

The feast day of Paul’s Conversion is January 25.

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St. Paul's background and journey of faith is somewhat different from St. Peter's. Paul, who was originally known as Saul, was an educated Jew and a member of the Pharisee party, as well as being a Roman citizen. He first appears in the pages of Scripture in Acts 7:58, as being present at the martyrdom of St. Stephen, the first of Jesus' followers to be put to death because of his faith in Jesus. Saul persecuted the Christians savagely, but was dramatically converted to the very One he had been persecuting after seeing Jesus in a vision (Acts 9:4). From that time on, Saul, who was now known as Paul, poured the same energy with which he persecuted Christ's followers into bringing the Gospel of Jesus to as many people as he could.

Paul traveled around most of what was the Roman Empire, establishing Christian communities and witnessing to the Risen Jesus, while asserting that he, too, was one of the Apostles, although "one born out of the normal course" (1 Corinthians 15:8). In his many letters to the various Christian communities he established (or those written by others with his approval), today, form the bulk of the writings of the New Testament. Paul was also martyred at Rome, three years after St. Peter, in the year 67 AD, by being beheaded (his Roman citizenship would not permit his being crucified). The feast commemorating his conversion is kept on January 25.

Born: c.3 as Saul at Tarsus, Cilicia (modern Turkey)

Died: Beheaded c.65 at Rome, Italy