Saul, later Paul, was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin. Being born at Tarsus in Cilicia, he was by privilege a Roman Citizen. As a young man he studied the Law of Moses in Jerusalem under Gamaliel, a learned and noble Pharisee, and became a scrupulous observer of the law.
Later, sincerely persuaded that the followers of Jesus opposed God’s true law, he became a zealous persecutor of the first Christians. He took part in the murder of St. Stephen, deacon and first martyr of the Catholic Church.
In the fury of his zeal, he next applied to the high priest for a commission to travel to Damascus, then a Christian center, to arrest all followers of Jesus.
He was nearing the end of his trip on the road to Damascus with a contingent of armed men, when, about noon, they were surrounded by a brilliant light. Saul was struck to the ground, and though all saw the light he alone heard a clear voice, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” Saul answered, “Who are You, Lord?” and the voice rejoined, “Jesus of Nazareth Whom you persecute. It is hard for you to kick against the goad.”
Then Christ Our Lord instructed him to arise and proceed to Damascus where he would learn what was expected of him. On arising Saul found that he was blind, and was led into the town to the house of a man called Judas.
In Damascus, Christ appeared to Ananias, a virtuous man, and bid him go to Saul. Ananias trembled at the name of the well-known persecutor but obeyed. Finding Saul, the holy man laid his hands upon him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your journey, sent me that you may receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” Immediately something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see.
Saul arose, was baptized, and ate. He stayed for a while with the disciples of Damascus and began to preach in the synagogues that Christ Jesus was the Son of God to the astonishment of all who knew his previous persuasion.
Saul, who became Paul, was the great apostle of the Gentiles, preaching far and wide to the pagan world. He was martyred in Rome about the year 67.