The sources for St. Paul's life are the Acts of the Apostles, in which he is the dominant figure, and the Pauline Epistles. The value of the latter depends on the extent to which they are accepted as genuinely written by the apostle. Romans, First and Second Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, First Thessalonians, and Philemon are undoubted; Ephesians and Second Thessalonians are rejected by most critics; First and Second Timothy and Titus are generally considered to be in their present form later and non-Pauline; finally, Hebrews was not written by St. Paul himself.
Paul's first known contact with Christianity is his presence at the martyrdom of St. Stephen. Soon after this he got a commission from the chief priest to go to Damascus to help suppress Christianity there (A.D. 33). As he approached Damascus he suddenly saw a blinding light and heard Jesus ask, "Why persecutest thou me?" Paul was temporarily blinded and was led into Damascus, where he was found (on the Lord's direction) by the disciple Ananias. On regaining his sight, Paul was baptized and immediately began preaching. (Acts 8.1-3; 9.1-30; 22.3-21; 26.9-23; Gal. 1.12-15.)
Paul spent the next 13 years learning the faith, part of the time living in seclusion in the Arabian desert. He visited Jerusalem probably twice (A.D. 37, 44) and dwelt at Tarsus and Antioch for some time. (Acts 11.) From Antioch, Paul set out on his first missionary journey (Acts 13-14.27; A.D. 47-49), on which he was accompanied by St. Barnabas and for a time by St. Mark. In general the method was to go from city to city preaching in synagogues and in marketplaces. Among the stops on this first mission were Cyprus, Antioch, and Derbe. Churches were set up, and as soon as the little Christian groups seemed strong enough the apostle and his companions would move on. Among their stops were Cyprus, Pamphylia, and Derbe. About A.D. 50 there was a council of the apostles at Jerusalem to discuss whether Gentile Christians should be circumcised, i.e., whether Christianity was to be a Jewish sect. St. Paul opposed the Judaistic group vigorously, and the council decided against them. (Acts 15; Gal. 2.)
On his second mission (Acts 15.36-18.22; A.D. 50-53) Paul, having quarreled with Barnabas, was accompanied by Silas. During visits to Philippi and Salonica they founded two churches that were to become great. They later sailed to Athens where Paul delivered his famous address on the "unknown god" in the market. (Acts 17.16-34.) From Athens, Paul went to Corinth. In the course of a long stay there he wrote First and Second Thessalonians (A.D. 52). Possibly about this time he also wrote his letter to the Galatians, although some scholars think this was the earliest of the epistles (written from Antioch), while others believe it was written later from Ephesus. At length Paul sailed to Caesarea in Palestine and visited Jerusalem again. He spent some time in Antioch.
The third missionary journey of St. Paul (Acts 18.23-21.26; A.D. 53-57) took him to Galatia, then Phrygia, and over to Ephesus. His two-and-a-half-year stay in Ephesus was one of the most fruitful periods of his life; in this time he wrote his two letters to the Corinthians (c.A.D. 56). He went to Corinth to help the Christians there, and he probably wrote the Epistle to the Romans there. Thence he returned to Ephesus and finally to Jerusalem. This was his last visit there (A.D. 57-59), for soon after he arrived he was arrested for provoking a riot.
After being held prisoner for two years and after hearings before the council of priests, before the Roman procurator Felix and his successor Festus, before Herod Agrippa II, and again before Festus, he appealed to Rome on his citizen's right. So he was sent to Rome under guard. (Acts 21.27-28.31.) On the way they were shipwrecked on Malta but finally landed at Puteoli (Puzzuoli). Paul was imprisoned (A.D. 60) in Rome but was allowed to conduct his ministry among the Roman Christians and Jews who visited him. Of his final fate tradition says that he was beheaded south of the city, near the Ostian Way, probably during the persecution of Nero. A lesser tradition claims that Paul was released after his first imprisonment and that he went East again, and perhaps also to Spain, before his martyrdom. Some scholars believe that Paul was executed after his initial imprisonment, probably A.D. 62. St. Paul's tomb and shrine are at the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls.
St. Paul's figure dominates the apostolic age, and his epistles have left a tremendous impress on Christianity. The first Christian theological writing is found in them, where it is characterized rather by spiritual fervor than by systematic analysis. St. Paul became a fountainhead of Christian doctrine, and countless interpretations have been given of his teachings. Thus, Roman Catholic theology leans upon him at all times, and Martin Luther derived from the Epistle to the Romans his principle of justification by faith alone. There can be no doubt that Paul's interpretation of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, his doctrine of the church as the mystical body of Christ, his teaching on law and grace, and his view of justification have been decisive in the formation of the Christian faith. The feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, June 29, is one of the principal days of the church calendar; the conversion of St. Paul is commemorated Jan. 25.
See D. R. McDonald, The Legend and the Apostle (1983); J. A. Ziesler, Pauline Christianity (1990); E. P. Sanders, Paul (1991); B. Chilton, Rabbi Paul: An Intellectual Biography (2004); J. Murphy-O'Connor, Paul: His Story (2004); G. Wills, What Paul Meant (2006).
One of his novellas set in the Chilcotin, The Breaking of Smith's Quarter Horse, was adapted into a feature film starring Glenn Ford. Also starring in that film was Chief Dan George, who played the character Old Antoine in the CBC-TV adaptation of his novel Cariboo Cowboy. Saint Pierre continues to write and maintains residences in the Chilcotin, the Fraser Valley and Sinaloa, Mexico.
In politics, he was a member of the Liberal Party. His riding spanned the Central Coast, then including the large pulp mill town of Ocean Falls and the western part of the Cariboo and the Squamish-Lillooet in a time when the largest town was Bralorne, and both were isolated as well as separated by each other by vast mountains. Other voters were in the Chilcotin Plateau and Cariboo, over yet another set of mountains and/or huge plateaus from the other towns on the coast and in the southern part of the riding. In those days Squamish was still only accessible by ferry from downtown Vancouver, and the rail line came no farther south. Most of the remaining major towns in the riding, Squamish, Lillooet, Powell River, Sechelt, Ocean Falls and Bella Coola, were all separated from each other and all those mentioned by either water or rail - or, in the case of Lillooet to Bella Coola, an arduously long and difficult drive via 100 Mile House and Williams Lake; the latter was among the three or four largest towns in the riding and is today central to the Cariboo riding.
Because it was easier St. Pierre was one of the "flying MPs" whose ridings spanned whole European countries in size, and where many voters were distant from the capital and living in areas difficult to get around in, never mind to. As with George Murray, Member of the Legislative Assembly in the provincial riding of Lillooet, which is in the southeastern part of the federal riding, once he became the area's representative, he moved there and fell in love with it. His books are classics of the cowboy genre and also constitute documents of individuals and notes on local natural history and myth, and serve as portraits of the cultures of the Chilcotin, Cariboo and Nechako districts of British Columbia.