Saint Paul is a Roman Catholic Community with a great Catholic School founded in 1963 in Pensacola, Florida. After 1985 the parish was comprised of both Saint Paul and Our Savior Churches. In 2008 we built one church large enough to once again reunite both communities, and Our Savior Church was closed. Our community is one of about 1400 families. We hope you enjoy this site and find it informational. If you have comments or suggestions, please contact us by phone or by E-mail. See the contacts page for that regularly updated information.
All the first Christians were necessarily missionaries, but one outshines them all; Saint Paul, a man whose eloquence and zeal flooded the pagan world with the name and message of Christ. He was named Saul by his Jewish parents, who were Roman citizens in Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia in southeast Asia Minor. The parents were members of the strictest of the Jewish sects, the Pharisees, and reared their son in rigid conformity to Pharisaic teachings. Immensely talented and energetic, Saul absorbed everything he was taught-including his father's trade of tent-making. Proud of his brilliance, his parents sent him to Jerusalem to study under the celebrated teacher of the law, Gamaliel. Saul had probably completed his studies and returned to Tarsus by the time Christ began His public life; he does not mention being in Palestine until after Christ's Ascension, at the stoning of Saint Stephen. By then, Saul was a fiery defender of Jewish orthodoxy, contemptuous of Christians and eager to wipe them out as corrupters of Judaism. He watched with approval as life was crushed out of Stephen, and then started his own career of persecution.
His own words, as reported in the Acts of the Apostles, best describe his activities: ". . . I then thought it my duty to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth . . . . many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests to do so; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them; and oftentimes in all the synagogues I punished them and tried to force them to blaspheme; and in my extreme rage against them I even pursued them to foreign cities " (Acts 26:9-11).
One of these cities was Damascus, where Saul wanted to arrest the Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem for trial. The journey there was the most critical of his life; this is his description of it: ". . . as I was on my way and approaching Damascus, suddenly about noon there shone round about me a great light from heaven; and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? And I answered, 'Who are you, Lord? And he said to me, 'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you art persecuting.' . . . And I said, 'What shall I do, Lord?' And the Lord said to me, 'Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that you are destined to do' " (Acts 22:6-10). In this momentous encounter, Saul's life was shattered and re-made. He went to Damascus, was baptized by a holy Christian named Ananias, and then retired to the desert of Arabia to meditate and to prepare himself for his future work.
About three years later, Saul returned to Damascus and began preaching his new faith. His change in allegiance caused a sensation, of course, and the enraged Jews plotted to kill their former comrade. Saul escaped by being let down over the city walls in a basket, and then he visited Peter in Jerusalem and learned many details of the life and sayings of Jesus, and the practices of the Christian community. For a time Saul tried to preach the gospel to the Jews and at the same time escape their vengeance. Then he went back to Tarsus for a few quiet years, where in lonely prayer and thought was forged the profound understanding of the mystery of Christ that would influence Christianity forever. In the great Biblical tradition which signifies conversion Saul's name is changed to Paul. After another visit to Jerusalem, he finally came to Antioch at the request of Barnabas. It was from this city that Paul (he began to use the Roman form of his name about this time) set out on his first missionary journey.
Between the years 45 and 58, he made three of these trips with various companions, including Saints Barnabas, Mark, and Luke, visiting the major cities of Phoenicia, Asia Minor, Greece, and Macedonia. His procedure was always the same: to confront the religious leaders of the people, usually in the synagogue, and boldly preach the message of Christ to them. Often enough, his reward was a stoning or whipping, with expulsion from the city, but despite opposition he made scores of converts and left the areas dotted with firmly established Christian communities. He preached to the gentiles and supported Peter's decision at the Council of Jerusalem to make Church membership easier for the gentiles by emancipating them from many provisions of the Jewish law. At the end of his third journey, Paul returned to Jerusalem, where he was arrested by the Jews as a transgressor against their law. He would have been put to death, but by appealing to Caesar, as his Roman citizenship allowed him to do, he made it necessary for the officials to send him to Rome for trial. He spent two years there, preaching to all who came to him (he was only under house arrest), and then was released. According to tradition, after the trip to Spain, he revisited the churches he had established in the East and returned to Rome. During the persecution under the emperor Nero, about 67, he was arrested and beheaded.