Saint Paul, the great Apostle of the Gentiles, though a Jew, and of the tribe of Benjamin, was born in the Gentile country of Cilicia, in a city called Tarsus. He was born a Roman citizen. Saint Paul was a disciple of Gamaliel, the renowned teacher who became a Christian and a saint. Saint Paul first opposed the Christians. And he was present at the stoning of Saint Stephen, the first martyr, in Jerusalem. Saint Paul’s name was Saul, when he lived as a Jew. On the road to Damascus, after the martyrdom of Saint Stephen, Saint Paul heard the voice of Our Lord speaking to him from Heaven and saying, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” Saul was his Jewish name, but so anxious was he after his conversion to become the true apostle to the non-Jews that he changed his name to Paul, after meeting and converting a notable Gentile named Sergius Paulus. Saint Paul was baptized a Christian at Damascus by Saint Ananias.
Saint Paul, after his conversion, became very devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary the Mother of God. He would not let his name be connected with hers overtly because of the way he had persecuted Christians before his conversion. But in the midst of all his journeys, he was constantly returning to Jerusalem to see her. It was Our Lady who caused Saint Paul’s name to be put immediately after Saint Peter’s in all the litanies where the Apostles are mentioned. It was Saint Paul’s disciple, Saint Luke — a Gentile who wrote the third Gospel, which is properly called “the Gospel of Our Lady.”
One can see from these simple leads how devoted Saint Paul was to the Mother of God. As soon as Saint Paul had converted Denis the Areopagite in Athens, he brought him to Jerusalem to see Mary, the Mother of God. Saint Denis said that if he had not been stopped from doing so, he would have fallen on his face before Mary and adored her as God, so radiant was her holiness and so transcendent was her beauty.
Saint Paul wrote fourteen Epistles in the New Testament. Saint Paul has four feast days: June 29; June 30; the Conversion of Saint Paul on January 25; and the feast of the Basilicas of Saint Peter and Saint Paul on November 18.
The head of Saint Paul is kept with that of Saint Peter in the Church of Saint John Lateran in Rome. Part of his body, along with part of Saint Peter’s, is lovingly guarded at the Vatican. The rest of his body, along with the rest of Saint Peter’s is kept in the Church of Saint Paul’s-outside-the-Walls. Saint Paul was beheaded, just outside the city of Rome, in the year 67. As his head bounced three times on the ground, his mouth was heard to utter, “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!” Three fountains of water miraculously sprang up from the three places where the head of Saint Paul struck the ground. Three of the Roman soldiers who assisted at the execution of Saint Paul were at once converted to the Catholic Faith.