from “Lives of the Saints”, by Rev. Hugo Hoever, S.O.Cist., Ph.D.
Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, 1977
St. Paul was born at Tarsus, Cilicia, of Jewish parents who were descended from the tribe of Benjamin. He was a Roman citizen from birth. As he was “a young man” at the stoning of St. Stephen and and “an old man” when writing to Philemon, about the year 63, he was probably born around the beginning of the Christian era.
To complete his schooling, St. Paul was sent to Jerusalem, where he sat at the feet of the learned Gamaliel and was educated in the strict observance of the ancestral Law. Here he also acquired a good knowledge of exegesis and was trained in the practice of disputation. As a convinced and zealous Pharisee, he returned to Tarsus before the public life of Christ opened in Palestine.
Some time after the death of Our Lord, St. Paul returned to Palestine. His profound conviction and emotional character made his zeal develop into a religious fanaticism against the infant Church. He took part in the stoning of the first martyr, St. Stephen, and in the fierce persecution of the Christians that followed.
Entrusted with a formal mission from the high priest, he departed for Damascus to arrest the Christians there and bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was nearing Damascus, about noon, a light from heaven suddenly blazed round him. Jesus with His glorified body appeared to him and addressed him, turning him away from his apparently successful career. An immediate transformation was wrought in the soul of St. Paul. He was suddenly converted to the Christian Faith and became an Apostle. (pages45-46)
St. Paul, the indefatigable Apostle of the Gentiles, was converted from Judaism on the road to Damascus (see p. 45).
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. (page 260)
St. Paul’s untiring interest in and paternal affection for the churches established by him have given us fourteen canonical Epistles. It is, however, quite certain that he wrote other letters which are no longer extant. In his Epistles, St. Paul shows himself to be a profound religious thinker, and he has had an enduring formative influence in the development of Christianity. The centuries only make more apparent his greatness of mind and spirit. (page 262)
NIHIL OBSTAT: Daniel V. Flynn, J.C.D.
IMPRIMATUR: James P. Mahoney, D.D., Vicar Gen., Archdiocese N.Y.