Paul the Apostle

The Statue

Paul has one hand raised, as if he is talking and arguing. In the other hand he is holding a sword. This refers to the fact that he was executed by decapitation by Emperor Nero in Rome in the year 64. Paul is viewed as the first theologian, who by his writings, speeches and travels lead Christianity out of the Jewish context and out to the Gentiles. He created the first Christian congregations, and thereby he laid the foundation for Christianity as a world religion.

The story

Originally Paul was not to be found amongst the disciples of Jesus; on the contrary, he was a persecutor of Christians, someone who was “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord", but on his way to persecute and imprison the Christians he was blinded by a shining light, and Jesus spoke directly to him: “I am Jesus, and you are persecuting me. Get up now and go into the city and you will be told what to do”. After blindness, fast and prayer for three days, Paul felt called to preach about the Saviour, and he was baptised and was once more able to see.

In the Bible several letters by Paul to the first congregations appear. Here he introduces himself as “Paul, apostle, not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father”. Paul went over the Christian doctrines (body of teaching), and since he wrote to both Jews and Gentiles, the letters are an important source to understanding the early years of Christianity. Based on this, it is obvious that Paul would already be aligned with the others in early Christian art as the 12th apostle on in close connection to Peter, so the two are projected as principal apostles. Paul is often among the apostles, usually in place of Matthias.

The facts

Thorvaldsen himself modelled a sketch for the sculpture in 1821.
The statue is likely sculpted in marble by Luigi Bienaimé and put on display in 1838.