When St. Augustine heard a voice say “Take and read,” he read this Bible verse, which changed his life forever.
While there were many different contributors to St. Augustine’s famous conversion, including the prayerful tears of his mother, the Bible played a pivotal part in his journey back to Jesus Christ.
In particular, one day he was with a friend and heard a peculiar voice, as he explains in his Confessions.
I heard the voice as of a boy or girl, I know not which, coming from a neighboring house, chanting, and oft repeating,Take up and read; take up and read.Immediately my countenance was changed, and I began most earnestly to consider whether it was usual for children in any kind of game to sing such words; nor could I remember ever to have heard the like. So, restraining the torrent of my tears, I rose up, interpreting it no other way than as a command to me from Heaven to open the book, and to read the first chapter I should light upon.
The first verse his eyes fell upon was Romans 13:13-14.
[L]et us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
The verse made a major impact upon St. Augustine, as he had lived a life of debauchery, indulging in all the carnal desires.
He didn’t read any more of the Bible at that moment, as that was sufficient to pierce his heart.
No further would I read, nor did I need; for instantly, as the sentence ended — by a light, as it were, of security infused into my heart — all the gloom of doubt vanished away.
Augustine proceeded to dedicate the rest of his life to Jesus Christ, and became one of the greatest saints the Church has ever known.