The Conversion of St. Paul

Once a fierce enemy of Church that Jesus founded, St. Paul converted to Christianity and became a proficient evangelizer, spreading the good news of Jesus Christ in person through speech and also by written letters.

A Pharisee educated by the best of the Jewish rabbis, St. Paul was a faithful and pious Jew who strongly persecuted Christians who he considered to be a threat to the Jewish faith.

He was a Roman citizen by birth which gave him certain rights and freedom. More well known by his Roman name Paul, he was originally referred to by his Jewish name Saul of Tarsus in the Bible.

St. Paul consented to the killing of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and was on the road to persecute Christians in the city of Damascus when he was confronted by the risen Jesus and underwent a profound conversion.

Not one of the original twelve Apostles who accompanied Jesus during his public ministry, St. Paul is known as the Apostle to the Gentiles.

In spite of danger, imprisonment, and persecution, St. Paul travelled extensively and spread the message of the Gospel. A large part of the New Testament consists of letters that he wrote during his travels.

St. Paul was beheaded in Rome around the year 64 AD, dying as a martyr for the same faith he had once tried to destroy.

On January 25 each year, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, the only conversion commemorated by the Church.

An encounter with Jesus led to Paul’s radical conversion:

Catholic Faith Network

Paul experienced God’s merciful love in Jesus:

Companions of the Cross

St. Paul was made helpless and humble:

Fish On Fridays

So Ananias went and entered the house; laying his hands on him, he said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the holy Spirit.” Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized, and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength. He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus, and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. All who heard him were astounded and said, “Is not this the man who in Jerusalem ravaged those who call upon this name, and came here expressly to take them back in chains to the chief priests?” But Saul grew all the stronger and confounded [the] Jews who lived in Damascus, proving that this is the Messiah.

Acts 9: 17-22

Paul became a great missionary after his conversion:

Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network – USA

A great persecutor became a great Apostle:

St. Paul Center

Because of Paul we know about Jesus:

Bishop Robert Barron

There is no other way in which to explain this renewal of Paul. None of the psychological analyses can clarify or solve the problem. This event alone, this powerful encounter with Christ, is the key to understanding what had happened: death and resurrection, renewal on the part of the One who had shown himself and had spoken to him. In this deeper sense we can and we must speak of conversion. This encounter is a real renewal that changed all his parameters. Now he could say that what had been essential and fundamental for him earlier had become “refuse” for him; it was no longer “gain” but loss, because henceforth the only thing that counted for him was life in Christ.

Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, 3 September 2008

Paul was an educated Jew and a Roman citizen:


The spiritual and intellectual foundation for Christian theology:

Madison Diocese

Such is not the case for Simon Peter when he confesses Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God”, for Jesus responds solemnly: “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in Heaven.” Similarly Paul will write, regarding his conversion on the road to Damascus, “When He who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach Him among the Gentiles…” “and in the synagogues immediately [Paul] proclaimed Jesus, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.'” From the beginning this acknowledgment of Christ’s divine sonship will be the center of the apostolic faith, first professed by Peter as the Church’s foundation.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 442

The site of Paul’s conversion is in present day Syria:

Christian Media Center – English

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

A life of conversion:

St. Norbert Abbey

Share this page with friends and family to start a conversation about your faith.

Don’t miss a post. Learn more about the Catholic Church and strengthen your Catholic faith.

Find more Fiercely Catholic video issues here.

Subscribe here.

Book a Fiercely Catholic program at your next conference, retreat, or other Catholic event.