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St. Augustine - (354-430), Bishop of Hippo and "Doctor of the Church"

Saint Augustine

Saint Augustine

A short detail of Saint Augustine's life, an immortal and inspirational image of our community

Accepted by most scholars to be the most important figure in the ancient Western church, St. Augustine was born in Tagaste, Numidia in North Africa. His mother was a Christian, but his father remained a pagan until late in life. After a rather unremarkable childhood, marred only by a case of stealing pears, Augustine drifted through several philosophical systems before converting to Christianity at the age of thirty-one. At the age of nineteen, Augustine read Cicero's Hortensius, an experience that led him into the fascination with philosophical questions and methods that would remain with him throughout his life. After a few years as a Manichean, he became attracted to the more skeptical positions of the Academic philosophers. Although tempted in the direction of Christianity upon his arrival at Milan in 383, he turned first to neoplatonism, During this time, Augustine fathered a child by a mistress. This period of exploration, including its youthful excesses (perhaps somewhat exaggerated) are recorded in Augustine's most widely read work, the Confessions.

During his youth, Augustine had studied rhetoric at Carthage, a discipline that he used to gain employment teaching in Carthage and then in Rome and Milan, where he met Ambrose who is credited with effecting Augustine's conversion and who baptized Augustine in 387. Returning to his homeland soon after his conversion, he was ordained a presbyter in 391, taking the position as bishop of Hippo in 396, a position which he held until his death.

Besides the Confessions, Augustine's most celebrated work is his De Civitate Dei (On the City of God), a study of the relationship between Christianity and secular society, which was inspired by the fall of Rome to the Visigoths in 410. Among his other works, many are polemical attacks on various heresies: Against Faustus, the Manichean; On Baptism; Against the Donatists; and many attacks on Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism. Other works include treatises On the Trinity; On Faith, Hope, and Love; On Christian Doctrine; and some early dialogues.

St. Augustine stands as a powerful advocate for orthodoxy and of the episcopacy as the sole means for the dispensing of saving grace. In the light of later scholarship, Augustine can be seen to serve as a bridge between the ancient and medieval worlds. A review of his life and work, however, shows him as an active mind engaging the practical concerns of the churches he served. Source: wikipedia.

Life and works of St Augustijn

A full detailed profile about St Augustijn from childhood to the day he passed away. His ideas, spirituality , writings, and impacts on community and religious life

Where comes the name Augustijn from?

In 354 a man called "Augustinus from Hippo" was born in what is today Algeria in Africa. He was an important fellow with a bright political future, but converted to the Catholic Church when he was 32. He immediately started to build his ideal of living in community with friends to worship God, to study and to do good for the poor, 1600 years before Jerry Garcia and the Flower Power movement!

St. Augustinus actually wrote down the rules how such communities should work and live together. These rules still survive in abbeys all over the world. St. Augustinus wrote much more important texts, since his complete oeuvre is printed on more than 12,000 pages! His ideal of living in community spread for 300 years all over North Africa and the Middle East. After 622, Islam destroyed the communities, killed most of the monks and chased the rest of them to Europe. In 1256, the Pope, Alexander IV, regrouped all communities living along the rules of St. Augustinus and created the Augustijner Order of monks.

Augustine on community

by Isaac

Augustine realizes that the powers of the world work to keep him enslaved to sin and separated from the true life found in God. From the depths of his being he feels the desire to praise God, but he cannot. Augustine writes, “our heart is restless until it rests in you” (1.1.1). He knows that God is the true source of fulfillment and happiness, but he cannot experience that desired communion with God. He describes the profound reality of his life separated from God and enslaved to sin as “the living dead” (1.6.7). While in this hopeless condition he cries out to God, “Who will give me help, so that I may rest in you? Who will help me, so that you will come into my heart and inebriate it, to the end that I may forget my evils and embrace you, my one good?” (1.5.5). Augustine recognizes that he cannot experience the life-giving communion with God without help. In this realization we see Augustine’s hunger for Christian community. He longs for the community that will form him into a vessel suitable for God’s indwelling Spirit. more

Prayer and Belief in God and Heaven To know God is Real

Introduction: Augustine's Life and Works give you a better understanding about Saint Augustine

For the reader coming to Augustine for the first time, the following essays are meant to introduce his life and thought. They were written in the early 1980s and published as Augustine in the Twayne World Authors series in 1985. The best book-length studies of Augustine's life are (recent and brief and very illuminating) Garry Wills, Augustine (Penguin, 1999) and (the classic study, soon to appear in a new edition with additional chapters updating the original) Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo (Berkeley, 1967). I have continued to worry about the way we talk about Augustine's life and have written some additional essays of a more specialized nature on those topics.

For Augustine's influence in later ages, see my "The Authority of Augustine", the 1991 St. Augustine Lecture at Villanova University.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a thorough entry on Augustine by Michael Mendelson, emphasizing philosophical issues and contribution. I have also contributed the new entry on Augustine for the Encyclopedia Britannica


NPNF1-02. St. Augustine's City of God and Christian Doctrine



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