For his oratorio, Mendelssohn made a discreet selection from St Paul's eventful life as recounted in the Acts of the Apostles. The story begins with the stoning of St Steven by the Jews, and continues through his miraculous conversion to the scene in Lystra, where Paul himself isnearly martyred by stoning, and his farewell in Miletus. Hardly any oratorio of the Romantic period could match St Paul in popularity. Only years later was it overtaken in the public esteem by Mendlessohn's Elijah. In the first two years following its premiere performance it was performed in over fifty German cities, in many European capitals and the United States.