VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI plans to proclaim a year dedicated to St. Paul, in preparation for the 2,000th anniversary of the apostle’s birth, the Vatican said.
The pope was scheduled to announce the commemorative year at a vespers service June 28 in the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls in Rome, on the eve of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
The Pauline Year will run from June 29, 2008, to June 29, 2009, according to information published in a Vatican Radio calendar. No details were immediately available about possible events during the year.
St. Paul was born in Tarsus, in what is now Turkey, at the start of the Christian era, about 10 A.D., according to church historians. After his conversion on the road to Damascus, he became one of the church’s foremost evangelizers, first among Jews, then among Gentiles.
St. Paul’s letters are a primary source of information about the life of the early church and have strongly influenced church thinking through the centuries.
In his first official visit outside the Vatican in April 2005, Pope Benedict went to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls to pray at the tomb of the apostle and pay homage to his legacy of spreading the Gospel.
“The church is, by its nature, missionary; its primary task is evangelization,” the pope said on that occasion.
“At the beginning of the third millennium, the church feels with renewed strength that Christ’s missionary mandate is more pressing than ever,” he said.