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St Paul, Patron Saint of Swordsmen
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewski


    Saint Paul, the Apostle, is the patron of swordsmen and is often depicted with one or more swords.

  1. One painting done by A. Van Dyck was painted in 1618 and shows one sword

  2. P. Vischer's 1510 rendition of St. Paul shows him with two swords

  3. G. Bellini, a 15th century painter, depicted Paul with a drawn sword.


St. Paul was born (as Saul) around 5-10 A.D. to a Jewish Diaspora family in Tarsus in Cilicia, an ancient Roman Province, (adjoining Syria in Asia Minor) and he was, by privilege, a Roman citizen. His father was a well-to-do merchant. He belonged to the tribe of Benjamin. Paul was educated in Jerusalem by Gamaliel the Elder, a rabbi, who taught him the laws of Moses[Apocr. 22.3]. He was an Aramaic and Greek speaking Pharisee.

Aramaic is a Semitic language spoken in Syria, Palestine, and Mesopotamia after 300 B.C., including Syriac and the language of Christ.

Pharisee is one of the ancient Jewish sects which believes in the validity of the oral law and in the free interpretation of the written law by seeking to discover its inner meaning.

Saul was a zealous follower of the traditions and laws of the Jewish faith. He was an enemy to Christ and saw Christians as heretic Jews. He campaigned to destroy Christians. He approved of the stoning of Stephen (in 36 A.D.), who became a Christian martyr. This was because Stephen had declared before the entire Sanhedrin that the true Messiah was Jesus Christ. Death came to the "blasphemer" in the form of a stoning. Stephen begged the Lord's pardon for his executioners (Acts 7:59).

Saul dragged other Christians out of their homes to prison. Saul planned to travel to Damascus, an ancient city in southern Syria, to bring Christians back to Jerusalem for punishment. Damascus was 130 miles north-east of Jerusalem, and was noted for its great trade center. However, around noon, Saul was blinded by an intense light from Heaven from which he heard a voice speaking directly to him.

"Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me?"

Saul answered, "Who art thou, Lord?"

Then the voice said, "Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the good." Jesus' meaning was that Saul was only hurting himself.

Saul replied, "Lord what wilt though have me do?"

Christ asked him to arise and continue on his journey and there he would learn what was expected of him. When Saul got up, he then noticed he could no longer see. Because of his blindness, Saul had to be helped and led to Damascus by his companions.

Upon reaching Damascus, Saul lodged in the house of a Jewish shopkeeper named Judas. Saul remained there for three days and did not eat or drink.

A Christian named Ananias was in Damascus, Syria. Christ told Ananias to go to Saul. Ananias was not happy to do this because of Saul's reputation for killing Christians, but he did what Jesus asked.

Saul had a dream of a man restoring his sight. Ananias, afterwards a bishop in Dasmascus, and even later a martyr; went to Saul and said:

"Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus ... hath sent me that thou mayest receive thy sight. He asked Saul to tell all about his last three days and to be baptized in Christ. Ananias then taught Saul Christian beliefs and he was made an apostle. Saul was converted on January 25th (on mid-winter day), between 33-36 A.D.

After this Saul served Jesus faithfully under his Latin name of Paul.

Saul was originally a tent maker as was the Jewish custom.

Saul apprenticed with St. Barnabus, to learn about Christianity, for two years in Antioch.

Paul was in Lystra where he was attacked by anti-Christian mobs and severely injured. It was written that Christ came and made his many wounds to only five. These five wounds were in the pattern of the stigmata of the Passion. These scars remained with him all his life.

From 58-60 A.D. Paul was arrested under the rule of Felix and Festus, in Caesaria. Caesaria was built by Herod the Great and was located on the coast of Palestine. This was the residence of the Herodian kings, and of Festus, Felix, and other Roman procurators of Judea. Mark was with Paul at this time. Mark later became the Bishop of Alexandria, the Hellenic, Roman, and Christian capital of Egypt.

In 61 A.D. Paul traveled to Rome and was arrested and put in prison until 63 A.D.

Paul then traveled to Asia Minor.

He also went to Spain with Sergius, the first bishop of Narbonne, a city on Southern France.

In Legend, Paul is arrested by Nero and is sentenced to death by the sword, because he was a Roman citizen. Otherwise he woud have been crucified. After Paul is executed, milk spills instead of blood, and on the road to Ostia, an ancient spot near Rome, Italy, at the Southern mouth of the Tiber River. This spot is now in ruins. Here springs erupted at the sites where Paul's head fell to the ground. This event was said to have occured in 64 A.D., but it can not be proved historically. Another source places his death in the year 67 A.D.

Paul was martyred in Rome.


Butler. One Hundred Saints: Their Lives and Likenesses Drawn from Butler's Lives of Saints and Great works of Western Art. New York: A Bullfinch Press Book, Little Brown and Company, 1993.

Calamari, Barbara and Sandra Dipasque. Holy Cards. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 2004.

Cohn-Sherbok, Lavinia. Who's Who in Chritianity. New York: Routledge, 1998.

Daniel-Rops, Henri. Heroes of God. Manchester, New Hampshire: Sophia Institute Press, 2002.

Jockle, Clemens. Encycopedia of Saints. London: Alpine Fine Arts Collection (UK) Ltd., 1995.

Matz, Terry. The Daybook of Saints. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc., 2000.

Smith, L.L.D., William. A Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelsen Publishers.

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