Augustine’s famous conversion at age 31 is recorded in his Confessions. He had not been impervious to the influences of his devout mother, the bishop Ambrose, and his godly friend Alypius. Labouring under a sense of his sin, especially his sexual sins in the wake of his separation from his mistress, he was convicted and weeping in a garden where he heard a child’s voice chanting ‘Pick up and read’ in Latin. Interpreting it as a divine command, he opened the Bible at hand and read the first verse that he found: ‘Let us live honourably . . . not in debauchery . . . but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires’ (Romans 13:14).
I neither wished nor needed to read further. At once, with the last words of this sentence, it was as if a light of relief from all anxiety flooded into my heart. All shadows of doubt were dispelled. (Confessions, VIII.xii.29)