Apostle to the Gentiles
January 25 (The Conversion of Paul), June 29 (Feast of Saints Peter and Paul)
ca. AD 5
ca. AD 67
Missions; Theologians; Gentile Christians
St. Paul, the indefatigable Apostle of the Gentiles, was converted from Judaism on the road to Damascus. He remained some days in Damascus after his Baptism, and then went to Arabia, possibly for a year or two to prepare himself for his future missionary activity. Having returned to Damascus, he stayed there for a time, preaching in the synagogues that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. For this he incurred the hatred of the Jews and had to flee from the city. He then went to Jerusalem to see Peter and pay his homage to the head of the Church.
St. Paul had lived as a Christian missionary for many years, going on three missionary journeys, and escaping death more than once. He had been imprisoned in Rome after being accused by some Jews of having brought Gentiles into the Temple. He appealed to Caesar on the grounds of being a Roman citizen, and as a result was allowed to remain in Rome to be tried instead of being sent to Jerusalem. His trial is assumed to have ended in his acquittal sometime around 65 after being held for several years, at which point it seems he went to Macedonia. Upon his return to Rome, he was arrested once again and imprisoned. Because he was a Roman citizen, he received a different punishment than some other criminals of the time (who were often crucified), and was beheaded between 66-68 AD at Aquae Salviae, which is now known as Tre Fontane. Legend says that his head bounced three times, and a fountain sprung up at each stop – hence the name Tre Fontane, or Three Fountains. His body was taken about two miles away to be buried in land owned by a friend, where the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls was later built.
Great convert and Apostle of the Gentiles, you became Christlike and knew only Christ Crucified. Though extremely learned, you relied completely on the Wisdom received from the Spirit and taught from the abundance of your heart. Instruct modern evangelists–those who preach Christ to others. Let them realize that their actions speak louder in conveying their God-given message but to rely above all on the promptings of the Spirit. Amen.