New Catholic Dictionary – Saint Paul the Apostle

[Saint Paul the Apostle]Derivation

  • Latin: little


Apostle of the Gentiles; born Tarsus, Cilicia, c.2; died Rome, Italy, c.66. A Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, he received the name Saul at the time of his circumcision, but being a Roman citizen, he also had the name Paul by which he was known when he began his apostolate among the Gentiles. When still quite young he was sent to Jerusalem to the school of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3); according to the rabbinical custom he learned a trade, choosing that of tentmaker. As a Pharisee (Acts 23:6) he persecuted the Christians and took an active part in the martyrdom of Saint Stephen (Acts 7:58-60; 22:20). The story of his miraculous conversion is related in Acts 9:1-9; 22:3-21; 26:9-23. After his conversion, baptism, and the cure of his blindness, he began preaching to the Jews, making Damascus his headquarters; withdrew to Arabia for meditation and prayer; returning to Damascus, he was forced to flee from the persecution of the Jews (2 Corinthians 11:32-33; Acts 9:23- 25); went to Jerusalem where he met Saint Peter and Saint James; retired to Tarsus for five years (Acts 9:29-30); and after this worked with Saint Barnabas at Antioch for a year (Acts 9:25-26). Paul’s Apostolic career is divided into three great missions, with Antioch as his starting point; on the first (Acts 13), which covered the years 45-49, he visited Cyprus, Pamphylia, Pisidia, having Barnabas and John Mark as his companions; the second mission, 51-54 (Acts 15:36), brought him through Syria and Cilicia with Silas; to reach Ephesus, the destination of his third mission, 54-58 (Acts 18:23-21:26), he journeyed through Galatia and Phrygia and the upper regions of Central Asia, returning by way of Macedonia and stopping at Philippi, Troas, Assos, Mitylene, Chios, Samos, Miletus, Cos, Rhodes, Patara, Tyre, Ptolemais, Caesarea, and Jerusalem. During this third journey Paul wrote his four great Epistles. His method of evangelizing was the same in each instance; he preached in the large cities from which the faith would be disseminated through outlying regions; he preached first to the Jews, but when rejected by them, turned to the Gentiles. The account of his captivity is given in Acts 21:27; 28:31. In 59 the Jews seized him on the false charge of having admitted Gentiles to the Temple. Imprisoned for two years at Caesarea, he was sent to Rome in 62 where for two years he freely preached his doctrine of Christianity (Acts 28:30-31); during this period of confinement and trial the epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and later to the Philippians were written. In all probability his trial resulted in acquittal, for he is said by some to have made a short visit to Spain, and then returned to the East; established the faith in Crete and appointed Saint Titus bishop there; he visited Epbesus and made Saint Timothy head of the faithful there. The facts of his second arrest are obscure, though it probably took place at Troas; according to Saint Athanasius, the manner of his death was revealed to him by Christ and, consequently, he came willingly to meet it. He was brought to Rome and was beheaded near the Ostian Way. In representations of the Apostles in early Christian art Saint Paul is shown as the man of intellect, bald, with a long dark beard; this type has persisted to the present day. Patron of tent-makers, and rope-makers; invoked against poisonous snakes. Body in the Basilica of Saint Paul on the Ostian Way; his head is in the Lateran Church. Feast, Roman Calendar, 29 June with Saint Peter; Conversion of, 25 January; common, 30 June.

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Paul the Apostle”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 18 June 2013. Web. 18 September 2021. <>