|Conversion of Paul by Caravaggio|
It began before the followers of Jesus were ever called Christians. They were people of "the Way" and seen as dangerous by political and religious authorities.
In the earliest days of the Christian church, one of its most zealous persecutors was Saul of Tarsus, who positively breathed "threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord". He was given authority to arrest Christians at Damascus and bring them bound to Jerusalem to be dealt with by the chief priests.
Saul (Paul) had almost reached Damascus when he was stopped in his tracks and fell to the ground. Today 25 January the church celebrates what followed from that event. Today's holy day is The Conversion of Paul. Paul's conversion was dramatic. Luke has 3 accounts of this in Acts. The one read today is Acts 9: 1-22.
who caused the light of the gospel
to shine throughout the world
through the preaching of your servant Saint Paul:
grant that we who celebrate his wonderful conversion
may follow him in bearing witness to your truth;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one god, now and for ever.
Collect for Conversion of Paul, Common Worship