Saint Augustine of Hippo was also called Aurelius Augustinus. He was a philosopher, theologian and the bishop of Hippo Regius in Numidia, North Africa. He was born on November 13 354 in Thagaste, Numidia in the modern-day Souk Ahras, Algeria and died on August 28 430 at the age of 75 in Hippo Regius, Numidia (modern-day Annaba, Algeria). We celebrate his feast day on August 28 every year in the Catholic Church.
|Saint Augustine of Hippo, Bishop and Doctor of the Church Biography|
|Date of Birth||November 13 354|
|Place of Birth||Thagaste, Numidia in the modern day Souk Ahras, Algeria|
|Profession||Bishop of Hippo Regius, a philosopher and theologian|
|Place of Work||Algeria|
|Date of Death||August 28 430 (aged 75)|
|Place of Death||Hippo Regius, Numidia (modern-day Annaba, Algeria)|
|Feast Day||August 28|
|Patron Saint of||
Saint Augustine of Hippo Life History
St Augustine’s father was called Patricius, a Roman official in Thagaste and his mother was Saint Monica. He was the firstborn in a family of three children who had survived infancy. His brother was called Navigius and his sister was called Perpetua. The family was African but heavily Romanized and they spoke Latin at home as a matter of prestige. He was very brilliant, with eager intellectual curiosity.
St Augustine went to school at Madaurus at the age of 11 years. Here he learned Latin literature but also pagan beliefs, some vices, and bad practices. He says that at one time he and his friends stole fruits from a garden, not because he was hungry but because it was wrong to steal them and he felt very good about it. From this, he concluded that human beings are inclined to sin and therefore need the Grace of Jesus Christ.
When he was 17 years, he went to Carthage to study rhetorics. It was while he was here that he pounced on the Manichaeism religion that had been founded by the Parthian prophet Mani, in the Sasanian Empire in the 3rd century AD. Despite having been brought up by a Christian mother in Christian ways, he nonetheless clung to Manichaeism. His mother was not very happy about that and she forbade him from eating at her table but after some time she reconciled with him.
He also started a relationship with a woman in Carthage who bore him a son called Adeodatus or “Gift from God”. But in 385 AD he ended the relationship with the woman in order to marry a younger girl, but the marriage did not happen.
St Augustine started as a grammar teacher in Thagaste around 373 AD and 374 AD but moved to Carthage in 375 AD to establish a rhetoric school. He taught for nine years in Carthage but he was disrupted by unruly students and decided to go to Rome and look for greener pastures there. He believed that Rome had the best environment to teach and practice rhetorics.
He went to Rome in 383 AD but the way of doing business there was not what he expected. The students would attend classes the whole period but pay their fees at the end of the term to the professor, however at the end of the term they did not pay.
Luck was on St Augustine’s side because a job position for a rhetoric professor emerged at the imperial court in Milan and he was hired. He went to Milan in 384 AD.
While in Rome, his passion for Manichaeanism started to dwindle because of his own studies in Neoplatonism, his skepticism of Manichaeanism and also that the Roman emperor Theodosius I had ordered the end of Manichaeanism in the Roman Empire and declared Christianity to be the only legitimate religion.
St Augustine was not very enthusiastic about Christianity but had the rhetorical prowess and knowledge of the philosophies behind many faiths. All this time, St Monica, Augustine’s mother had been following him from Thagaste to Rome and finally to Milan. In Milan, St Monica met St Ambrose, Bishop of Milan who helped her to start tilting Augustine back to Christianity.
Bishop Ambrose was older, more experienced, and a master of rhetoric. When Augustine visited him, they found that they were birds of the same feather and their friendship began. Bishop Ambrose’s efforts and the prayers of his mother culminated in Augustine starting to embrace Christianity.
St Augustine converted to Christianity in August 386 AD at the age of 31 after he heard his friends reading about the life of St Antony the Great of the Desert. In the midst of his mental confusion about his conversion to Christianity and while agonizing in the garden, he heard a child’s voice saying, “take up and read” and randomly, in the Bible, he opened and read the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans 13: 13–14, which says,
“13 let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy.Romans 13: 13-14
14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.”
When he finished reading that scripture he says he felt no desire to read more. He instantly felt a peaceful light shine in his heart and all the darkness of doubt vanished.
During the Easter Vigil, of April 387 AD, Bishop Ambrose baptized Augustine and his son Adeodatus in Milan. After this St Augustine wrote his apology on the Holiness of the Catholic Church and thereafter, they started their return to Thagaste in North Africa. On their way, at the port of Ostia in Italy, his mother, St Monica died and was buried there. Before she died, she told him that she was ready to die for her work and desire in life has been completed after Augustine became a Christian again.
Back in Thagaste, Augustine lived with his son at their family property but he too died in 388 AD. After this, St Augustine sold all his inheritance and shared the proceeds with the poor but retained the family house which he converted to a monastery where he preached fluently and knowledgeably.
St Augustine abandoned his teaching profession and started preaching. He was ordained as a priest in 391 AD in Hippo Regius (now Annaba, Algeria) at the age of 36 years. He became interested in using his rhetorical training to help the Christian Church discover and teach knowledgeably the different scriptures in the Bible. He became a renowned preacher for his eloquence and knowledge of the scripture and also his excellent manner of presentation. He also started combating his former Manichaean religion.
In 395 AD, at the age of 41 years, St Augustine was made the Bishop of Hippo where he remained as a bishop for 35 years till his death in 430 AD. He gave his property including his little monastery to the Church of Thagaste.
St Augustine has written more than 3,000 letters and homilies, as well as other 1,000 publications of importance in philosophy and theology.
The writings of St Augustine contributed a lot to the development of Western philosophy and Christianity. He is considered as one of the most important Fathers of the Latin Church for his many vital works including
- The City of God
- On Christian Doctrine
St Augustine believed that human freedom cannot manifest well without the grace of Christ. He contributed a lot to the development of just war theory and also aided in formulating the doctrine of original sin.
Around his lifetime, when the Western Roman Empire began to rapidly disintegrate, Augustine visualized the Church as a spiritual City of God that was clearly separate from the Earthly City.
Saint Augustine Death
There was an invasion of North Africa by the Vandals who had converted to Arianism. In 430 AD they overran Hippo and St Augustine became very ill. He spent his final days in repentance and prayer and died on August 28 430.
St Augustine was canonized by popular acclaim and in the year 1298, Pope Boniface VIII recognized him as a Doctor of the Church.
St Augustine Feast Day
We celebrate his feast day on August 28 every year in the Catholic Church.
St Augustine is the Patron Saint of
- Sore eyes
- Bridgeport, Connecticut; United States
- Tanza, Cavite, Philippines
- San Agustin, Isabela, Philippines
- Mendez, Cavite, Philippines
- Cagayan de Oro, Philippines
- Baliuag, Bulacan, Philippines
Today’s Catholic Quote
“Unlearned people are taking Heaven by force, while we, with all our knowledge, are so cowardly that we keep rolling around in the mud of our sins!”
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