“Saint Paul” by Jusepe de Ribera

Paul wrote hundreds of letters. Only a handful survive. Polycarp of Smyrna quotes from an epistle to the Assyrians. Ignatius mentions two sent to Cyril of Sardinia, aged 13¾. The Index Aegyptus lists four to “Bellerophon.”

He grew rich in his old age. He surrounded himself with bodyguards. His oysters came directly from the Lucrine Lake. Boys were taken without warning from Rome’s streets. Each night one would be in the apostle’s chambers, drugged, washed and perfumed. The youth would wake the next morning in a marketplace or field, with silver coins in his pocket and new clothes on his back.

Word of this soon reached the Twelve. They wrote Paul for an explanation. Paul wrote back: “Brethren, the Lord died for our sins. Should we not do our utmost to make his sacrifice worthwhile?”

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