The Holy Glorious and All-Praised Leader of the Apostles, Paul

The hymns for their Feast speak of Sts Peter and Paul as the leaders (koryphaioi), and chiefs of the Apostles. They are, without a doubt, the foremost in the ranks of the Apostles.

The koryphaioi were leaders of the chorus in ancient Greek tragedy. They set the pattern for the singing, and also for the dance movements and gestures of the chorus. Before Sophocles, there were twelve members of the chorus, and Sts Peter and Paul were the leaders of the twelve Apostles.

St Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin, and lived in Tarsus in Cilicia. He once described himself as a Hebrew, an Israelite of the seed of Abraham (2 Cor. 11:22). He was also a Pharisee and a tent-maker (Acts 18:3) who had studied the Law with Gamaliel at Jerusalem.

At first, he was called Saul, and had persecuted the Church. He was present at the stoning of St Stephen (Acts 7: 58). Then, on the road to Damascus, he was converted when Christ appeared to him. Blinded by the vision, he was healed when Ananias laid his hands on him. After his cure, he was baptized (Acts 9:18).

St Paul preached the Gospel in Greece, Asia Minor, and in Rome, and wrote fourteen Epistles. Tradition says that he was martyred in Rome about the year 68.