The Conversion of St. Paul
The Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul is celebrated every year on January 25, which concludes the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity every year – an eight-day event that has been celebrated by the international Christian community since 1908. St. Paul's conversion caused him to become a great advocate for Christian unity, for which he worked so tirelessly, and the Church now remembers and celebrates that wonderful event every year.
Paul had spent the early years of his life studying in Jerusalem and persecuting Christians for going against the Temple, possibly as a Zealot. He was even a part of the stoning to death of St. Stephen, the Church's first martyr. Sometime around 35 or 36 AD, however, he met Christ on his way to Damascus, who asked why he was persecuting Christ through Christ's followers, and told him to go into the city where he would be told what to do. At that point, Paul was blinded for three days, and was taken into Damascus where the Lord told Ananius, a disciple, to go to Paul and heal him. At that point, “something like scales fell from Paul's eyes,” he was healed and he became baptized, and started preaching about Jesus in the synagogues.
His sudden switch confused the Jews, who subsequently grew angry with him and tried to kill him, or have him killed, several times. Paul nevertheless continued preaching to them as well as to the Gentiles, trying to spread the Gospels to everyone at any cost. His conversion, dangerous though it may have been for St. Paul, had a hugely positive effect on the life of the Church. He became one of the Church's great evangelizers, helping to bring many people into the Church. While most saints have feast days based on their date of death, St. Paul is one of the only saints who has a feast day commemorating his conversion. This conversion shows that anyone can be forgiven and brought to a life with Christ, even those who previously were on the completely opposite side of Christianity. It is an event that the Church wants to remember and celebrate because of its great importance for Christians everywhere.
To learn more about St. Paul or the Pauline Year, visit the Pauline Year page.