Saint Paul


In the mural next to David is that of the great apostle Saint Paul, as the patron of oratory. From the time of his conversion at Damascus, Paul preached so eloquently in the synagogues and before university audiences such as that at Athens, his own Alma Mater, where he is depicted in this mural, that he became one of God's principal instruments in the Christianizing of the world. Born at Tarsus and qualified to great distinction and exemptions by virtue of his privileges as a Roman citizen, he was well instructed by his teacher, Gamaliel, by whom as well as at the university he was enlightened in the strict Old Law. He was especially gifted with new sight and new light from the Holy Spirit at the time he became a Christian convert.

With Saint Peter, he consecrated the new holy city, Rome, with his martyrdom. He wrote fourteen Epistles, a fountainhead of Church doctrine, in which his interior life lies open, but he preached valiantly like a chivalrous knight and took captive every thought of his audience to the obedience of Christ. Through Saint Luke in the Acts of the Apostles, we see Paul's hopes, his plans, his amazingly multiplied communities of Christian congregations. As soon as he laid the foundation of the faith, he left the care of the new flock to a local ministry while he went on to fresh fields, returning from time to time to revisit and confirm his congregations. We learn from the Acts that Paul traveled over land and sea, the length and breadth of Asia Minor and on to Rome preaching, teaching, and writing--to governors, to philosophers, to tradesmen and to simple people but "to not many wise, not many noble, not many mighty." He preached at Antioch, Ionius, Lysbia, Derbe, Troas, Ephesus, Phillippi, Thessalonica, Bares, Athens, Corinth and elsewhere, all the while from refined and elegant cities along the Aegean and the Mediterranean enrolling thousands under the standard of Christ. In his plan for radiating Christian doctrine, he astounded his generation by giving place to womanhood. His first European convert was Lydia, a young woman, a seller of the famous Tyrian purple. Phoebe carried his most important epistle on charity to the Corinthians.

A highly cultured attitude of mind, a profound genius for assimilating religious truth, an abundance of supernatural gifts, marked many of the audiences where Paul brought the initial impetus of Christianity and the great Commandment of the new law, so that all human beings, women as well as men, and every sphere of human activity was included in his plan of universal brotherhood in Christ.

In his discourse to the Athenians, as depicted in the Marywood mural, we catch a reflection of the high culture which informs the audience. We see various character studies of men. Their serious aspects are distinct and objective, their dignity classic. The essential originality of Paul's career, his charity, and his vehement zeal are portrayed with care and superb technique, while the great preacher, standing forth like a pedimental figure, makes this a fine specimen of mural design.