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Paul of Tarsus
Paul of Tarsus, also called Paul the Apostle, the Apostle Paul, and Saint Paul, (Ancient Greek: Σαούλ (Saul), Σαῦλος (Saulos), and Παῦλος (Paulos); Latin: Paulus or Paullus; Hebrew: שאול התרסי Šaʾul HaTarsi (Saul of Tarsus), was a Jew who referred to himself as the “Apostle to the Gentiles”.[Rom 1:13] According to the Acts of the Apostles, his conversion to faith in Jesus took place in a profound life-changing experience on the road to Damascus. Together with Simon Peter and James the Just, he is considered among the most notable of early Christian leaders. He was also a Roman citizen—a fact that afforded him a privileged legal status with respect to laws, property, and governance. Above is a facial composite of Paul the Apostle by experts of the LKA NRW, Germany.
Early Life. Paul was a missionary apostle mainly to Gentiles. His journeys, sufferings, words and works are described in the Acts of the Apostles and in letters which he wrote to the churches at Rome, Corinth, and other places. His Hebrew name was Saul, but he is better known to us as Paul. He was a Pharisee, strictly trained in the law and Jewish traditions, and a Roman citizen. Paul’s trade was tent-making. Paul approved of the stoning of Stephen and Paul himself persecuted the church.
Ministry. His conversion occurred on the road to Damascus when a light from heaven flashed about him and he heard a voice: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Paul was temporarily blinded, but was healed by a Christian named Ananias. Thereafter Paul was zealous to proclaim publicly Jesus as the Christ. People were astonished because Paul had formerly persecuted the church. The book of Acts recounts his work on three extended missionary journeys through Asia Minor and Greece. On these journeys Paul helped establish Christian congregations in many cities around the eastern and northern Mediterranean.
Arrest. He was eventually arrested in Jerusalem on charges of bringing Greeks into the Temple, then he was imprisoned in Caesarea for two years. After he appealed his case to the emperor he was sent to Rome. During the voyage he was shipwrecked but found refuge on Malta. In Rome he was placed under house arrest for two years. His death is not recorded in the Bible although later traditions say that he was martyred.
- Paul the Apostle
San Paolo alle Tre Fontane, is a church dedicated to St Paul the Apostle, at the presumed site of his martyrdom in Rome.
Legend claims that when St Paul was decapitated, his head bounced three times and fountains miraculously sprang out when it touched the ground. However the springs were known in pre-Christian times as the Aquae Salviae, and excavations have revealed ancient mosaic pavements. Even if it is not true it does help identify the claimed site of St Paul’s martyrdom. It is also said that there was a stone pine tree at the site of his death, and the identification of this place was strengthened when ancient stone-pine cones were found here during excavations in 1857.
The first church here was built in the 5th century. It was rebuilt in 1599 by Giacomo della Porta for Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini. The church belongs to the Trappist Tre Fontane Abbey.
There are three symbolic monumental covers to the fountains said to have sprung up at St Paul’s death. The fountains were sealed in 1950 because pollution made it dangerous to drink the water.
A column in church is said to be the one to which St Paul was bound when he was beheaded, but this seems to be a late story and it is probably just a column from Roman ruins nearby.
Remains of a late Roman mosaic floor are preserved in the nave. It was donated to the church by Pope Pius IX and is said to have been brought here from Ostia, Rome’s port in the imperial period.