The Conversion of Saint Paul


Conversion on the Way to Damascus, circa, 1600, Caravaggio


O GOD, who, through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Saint Paul, hast caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world: Grant, we beseech thee, that we, having his wonderful conversion in remembrance, may shew forth our thankfulness unto thee for the same, by following the holy doctrine which he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Acts 9:1-22

AND Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And, as he journeyed, he came near Damascus, and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven. And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he, trembling and astonished, said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth, and when his eyes were opened he saw no man; but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias, coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem; and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way; for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: for I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and, putting his hands on him, said, Brother Saul, the Lord, (even Jesus that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest,) hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales; and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed, and said, Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.


St. Matthew 19:27-end

PETER answered and said unto Jesus, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first.

THE PSALM (1979 Book of Common Prayer)

Psalm 67

Deus misereatur

GOD be merciful unto us, and bless us : and shew us the light of his countenance, and be merciful unto us:
2. That thy way may be known upon earth : thy saving health among all nations.
3. Let the people praise thee, O God : yea, let all the people praise thee.
4. O let the nations rejoice and be glad : for thou shalt judge the folk righteously, and govern the nations upon earth.
5. Let the people praise thee, O God : let all the people praise thee.
6. Then shall the earth bring forth her increase : and God, even our own God, shall give us his blessing.
7. God shall bless us : and all the ends of the world shall fear him.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
   As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Second Psalm (unrelated to this commemoration)

Psalm 66

Jubilate Deo

OBE joyful in God, all ye lands : sing praises unto the honour of his Name, make his praise to be glorious.
2. Say unto God, O how wonderful art thou in thy works : through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies be found liars unto thee.
3. For all the world shall worship thee : sing of thee, and praise thy Name.
4. O come hither, and behold the works of God : how wonderful he is in his doing toward the children of men.
5. He turned the sea into dry land : so that they went through the water on foot; there did we rejoice thereof.
6. He ruleth with his power for ever; his eyes behold the people : and such as will not believe shall not be able to exalt themselves.
7. O praise our God, ye people : and make the voice of his praise to be heard;
8. Who holdeth our soul in life : and suffereth not our feet to slip.
9. For thou, O God, hast proved us : thou also hast tried us, like as silver is tried.
10. Thou broughtest us into the snare : and laidest trouble upon our loins.
11. Thou sufferedst men to ride over our heads : we went through fire and water, and thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.
12. I will go into thine house with burnt-offerings : and will pay thee my vows, which I promised with my lips, and spake with my mouth, when I was in trouble.
13. I will offer unto thee fat burnt-sacrifices, with the incense of rams : I will offer bullocks and goats.
14. O come hither, and hearken, all ye that fear God : and I will tell you what he hath done for my soul.
15. I called unto him with my mouth : and gave him praises with my tongue.
16. If I incline unto wickedness with mine heart : the Lord will not hear me.
17. But God hath heard me : and considered the voice of my prayer.
18. Praised be God, who hath not cast out my prayer : nor turned his mercy from me.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
   As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.


from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. Ed., 1894

THE great apostle Paul, named Saul at his circumcision, was born at Tarsus, the capital of Silicia, and was by privilege a Roman citizen, to which quality a great distinction and several exemptions were granted by the laws of the empire. He was early instructed in the strict observance of the Mosaic law, and lived up to it in the most scrupulous manner. In his zeal for the Jewish law, which he thought the cause of God, he became a violent persecutor of the Christians. He was one of those who combined to murder St. Stephen, and in the violent persecution of the faithful which followed the martyrdom of the holy deacon, Saul signalized himself above others. By virtue of the power he had received from the high priest, he dragged the Christians out of their houses, loaded them with chains, and thrust them into prison. In the fury of his zeal he applied for a commission to take up all Jews at Damascus who confessed Jesus Christ, and bring them bound to Jerusalem, that they might serve as examples for the others. But God was pleased to show forth in him His patience and mercy. While on his way to Damascus, he and his party were surrounded by a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, and suddenly struck to the ground. And then a voice was heard saying, “Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute Me?” And Saul answered, “Who art Thou, Lord?” and the voice replied, “I am Jesus, Whom thou dost persecute.” This mild expostulation of Our Redeemer, accompanied with a powerful interior grace, cured Saul’s pride, assuaged his rage, and wrought at once a total change in him. Wherefore, trembling and astonished, he cried out, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” Our Lord ordered him to arise and to proceed on his way to the city, where he should be informed of what was expected from him. Saul, arising from the ground, found that, though his eyes were open, he saw nothing. He was led by hand into Damascus, where he was lodged in the house of a Jew named Judas. To this house came by divine appointment a holy man named Ananias, who, laying his hands on Saul, said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, Who appeared to thee on thy journey, hath sent me that thou mayest receive thy sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” Immediately something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he recovered his sight. Then he arose and was baptized; he stayed some few days with the disciples at Damascus, and began immediately to preach in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God. Thus a blasphemer and a persecutor was made an apostle, and chosen as one of God’s principal instruments in the con. version of the world.

Reflection.—Listen to the words of the “Imitation of Christ,” and let them sink into your heart: “He who would keep the grace of God, let him be grateful for grace when it is given, and patient when it is taken away. Let him pray that it may be given back to him, and be careful and humble, lest he lose it.”