Today, January 25th, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles. Though not one of the Twelve Apostles, Paul converted after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, and he preached the Gospel and wrote many letters that are part of the New Testament of the Bible. There are other feast days upon which St. Paul is honored; however January 25th is specifically focused on his conversion.
Saul, Persecutor of Christians
“For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it”
Prior to his conversion to Christianity, Paul was Saul, a Pharisee who persecuted Christians. He was very zealous in his persecution, noting of himself in his letter to the Galatians that he was more zealous even than many of his peers. Saul was present at and oversaw the stoning of St. Stephen, the first martyr.
The Conversion of St. Paul
“Thus I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining round me and those who journeyed with me.
And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It hurts you to kick against the goads.' And I said, 'Who are you, Lord?'
And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and bear witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from the people and from the Gentiles – to whom I send you to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'”
-Acts of the Apostles 26:12-18
Read the rest of this article about the conversion of St. Paul here.