The Conversion of St. Paul on the Road to Damascus by Rosemarie Adcock
The Apostle Paul, known formerly as Saul, was a religious man of the strictest order, a Pharisee, who was given the task of seeking out Christians and having them put to death. The followers of Jesus Christ were terrified of him. The account of his conversion is recorded in the Book of Acts, Chapter 9:
"Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”
Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”
Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank."
The days that followed revealed a man whose eyes were opened when he recovered from his blindness, but also whose spiritual eyes were opened as he himself became a follower of the resurrected, living Jesus Christ. He endured shipwrecks, beatings, stoning, and imprisonment. It was in prison where, under the inspiration of God, he wrote much of of the New Testament Bible. He was a brilliant, scholarly man, assumed to be a widower, having a deep understanding of the Jewish law of Moses and writings of the Prophets. It was Paul who wrote for Gentile believers, connecting the Old Testament prophecies to the life and identity of Jesus who had just been crucified. He is considered an Apostle because He saw the living Lord Jesus Christ, as the other 11 did, although Paul met Jesus after His resurrection.
Paul was martyred like the other Apostles, with the exception of John who was exiled to the island of Patmos.
The painting shows his clothing as that of a Pharisee, the chains on the ground as a symbol of his imprisonment in Rome, a whip signifying his beatings, and an old anchor as a symbol of the shipwrecks he would endure. The eyes are painted covered over with a shell-like appearance, as they were described as having something like scales that fell off when a man named Ananias prayed for him to be healed. Paul is a symbol of the power of God to open eyes to conversion upon faith in His Son Jesus Christ. Throughout his life, Paul never felt worthy of such mercy.