Conversion of St. Paul Artwork

by Patrick Werick January 25, 2014 1 Comment

St. Paul was a christian hunter before he miraculously converted while road tripping. He was on his way to Damascus , tracking down christians, when God knocked him off his trusty steed. This miracle is commemorated in the Catholic church on January 25th.

 "and suddenly a light from heaven shined round about him. And falling on the ground, he heard a voice saying to him: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? Who said: Who art thou, Lord? And he: I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. " Acts 9: 3-5

The conversion of St. Paul has been a favorite theme for artists to tackle ever since. There are certainly many other paintings of Paul and his adventures, but it's hard to beat the drama of heaven's light lighting up a guy after knocking him off his horse. 


Travelling to Damascus on HorsebackAbout 1767, Nicolas-Bernard Lepicie painted this colorful art of Paul's conversion. Out of all the images in this post, this one has some of the most vibrant colors.











Christ in Clouds Converting SaulThis is an Italian Ferrarese artwork that was painted in the middle of the 16th century. This painting shows Jesus Christ in the clouds speaking to Paul on the ground, though it doesn't display 'a light from heaven' as in the other renditions. The light, instead, remains behind and illuminates the figure of Christ. 





Conversion of Saul of TarsusCertainly two of the more iconic portrayals, Caravaggio painted both of these around 1600-01. It is said that the first one, the Conversion of St. Paul, was rejected by the man who commissioned it, which is why Caravaggio created a follow-up painting: The Conversion of St. Paul on the Road to Damascus.








Knocked off his horseIt is speculative why the first painting was rejected or not rejected, but at least we got a fantastic contribution to the deposit of Catholic art











Conversion of SaulThis final image is one of the more unusual variations. Dutch painter Karel Dujardin painted this one in the mid 17th century and placed St. Paul right in the middle with his hands on his head. The two most prominent soldiers in the painting stare down at Paul while he listens to the voice of God. We do see the light of heaven in this painting coming from the top left where there's also a cherub angel holding a small torch. 


Patrick Werick
Patrick Werick


1 Response


February 05, 2020

The Bible does not say Paul was on a horse. Why did they paint him being knocked off a horse?

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