Born in Tarsus and named Saul, St. Paul zealously pursued the study and careful enforcement of the Law of Moses. He was a Pharisee among the Pharisees while still young, and was most respected by this Jewish sect. He became the foremost persecutor of the Church of Christ and stood by, approving of St. Steven’s martyrdom. But as he was traveling to Damascus in order to arrest the Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem for trial, Jesus appeared to him and changed his misguided zeal into an irresistible force which “Turned the (pagan) world upside down” (Acts 17:6).
Renamed Paul, and earning the title “Apostle to the Gentiles” by his superhuman labors and suffering, he continuously preached the Gospel from Arabia to Spain among the Jews and Gentiles from all lands, until he was beheaded in Rome about the year a.d. 64. He is undoubtedly the single most influential person among the Disciples in the formation of the Church, and explains this by saying, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” This remarkable icon was painted by St. Andrei Rublev and was originally a part of a Deisis set at the Monastery of Zvenigorod.