St. Elizabeth Paul Memorial Service 2013
The annual memorial service took place in Tsolo on 13th May, with further celebrations taking place ion Tuesday 14th May, the actual date of her visitation and the beginning of her faith healing mission. See below for a brief biography.
Elizabeth Paul was born Elizabeth Spalding in Zandukwana, Tsolo on the 19th December 1906, long before the infamous Immorality Act which forbade interracial marriages, she grew up in a Christian environment and attended a local Tsolo school. As her mother spoke isiXhosa and her white father, Joe, was English she was fluent in both languages.
She was very young when she married James Paul, affectionately called 'Jimmy Paul'. Their marriage was childless, but one day she dreamt of being told that her children would be countless in number, a message she initially misunderstood. But on the 13th May 1950 she had a visitation through a vision in which she was told to be prepared on the next day, which was Pentecost, to welcome visitors who she did not know.
She got up early in the morning of the 14th and headed for church with her husband, Jimmy. However, as they reached the church door step, she was reminded by the voice that she should go back home to welcome her visitors.
It came to pass that the Angel of God was sent to her with a commission that she should:
· Teach the People about Christian principles and values;
· Preach the Good News of salvation; and,
· Exorcise the demon possessed;
Her ministry came at a time when the church had a lull in the ministry of healing and its impact is still very much alive as it was 62 years ago. She has four major events:
14th May which will revert to the 13th since Matthias is commemorated on the same day.
10th September when she was formally commissioned by Bishop James Schuster of Mthatha.
19th December her birthday, and
4th April the day of her tragic death in a motor accident on her way from Kokstad to Mount Ayliff
Our request was for one commemoration by the wider Church, otherwise other events are observed locally. She was obedient to the Church and faithful to God until the end. We praise God for her life which is attested throughout South Africa. Every day in the morning, during the day and in the evening there are prayers across the denominational divide at her sanctuary in Tsolo.
The Diocese of Mthatha is grateful to the Liturgical Committee for having scrutinised the work of Elizabeth Paul to the extent of recommending to the bishops that this stalwart of our Church should be included into our calendar.
In the submission used to urge Elizabeth Paul's inclusion in the liturgical calendar Robert N Tushana wrote that, although her preaching and healing attracted people from all denominations and her services embraced choruses and dancing with a broad appeal, she strongly resisted urgings to launch her own sect. Instead she always encouraged people to attend their own churches. She was a faithful Anglican.
The pivotal point around which her preaching revolved was the upholding of the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer. She believed these inculcated love of fellow human beings and a preparedness to forgive unconditionally. But it was her gift of healing through supplication to the Holy Spirit that drew huge crowds and there are reports of many successes.
She would often be invited to travel long distances to conduct healing sessions and in those cases the cost of travel and accommodation was carried by her hosts. Otherwise she charged no fees no matter how long she was away from home. When given cash as a gift she saved the monies to buy a car which made it easier for her to spread the gospel of Christ.
Mrs Paul's Herculean efforts did not escape her bishop's notice. After conducting an extensive interview with her, Bishop James Leo Schuster formally commissioned her to continue with her ministry.
Whenever she talked about the outcome of that interview she would say, "Izibele zika Thixo ziyamaangalisa" (Wonderful are the acts of God's kindness)
It seems that she had a premonition of her death, referring to her blood being shed and the fracturing of her bones. She relocated from Tsolo to Kokstad because opposition to her ministry had grown so virulent. She also hoped to find more time to read the Bible, pray and meditate in her new home as this had become almost impossible in Tsolo.
The autopsy after her accident revealed that she had sustained fractures of the upper and lower limbs, the sternum, some ribs, her spine and her neck.
On May 13th and14th every year, busloads of her followers from all over the country make the pilgrimage to Tsolo in the Transkei where a special festival is held to commemorate her extraordinary healing powers. Many women still pray to her to make them fertile.
The 2012 synod of bishops agreed to include Elizabeth Paul in the Anglican liturgical calendar. Her official feast day is on May 13.