A lot of people are asking themselves “Who is Saint Augustine?” So, without a doubt, Augustine was born on 13 November 0354 AD in Tagaste, a small town in the African province of Numidia. His father was not a Christian and was baptized only on his deathbed, but his mother, Monica, was a fervent believer. Augustine studied first in Tagaste, then in Madaura and Carthage. Being very gifted, he opened a school of rhetoric in Carthage and then went on to Rome and Milan.
St Augustine is a Christian who was born at the beginning into a pagan family and came to faith. Augustine also discovered the monastic order by reading the life of St Anthony, written by St Athanasius, which moved him and brought him to repentance. Once, opened Holy Scripture, he read the words from the Epistle to the Romans and he changed his life forever. This was God’s answer to Augustine’s quest.
3 Particularly important facts relevant to St. Augustine are the following:
- Augustine was attracted to skepticism.
- He wrote a book: “De Civitate Dei”.
- Three years later he is ordained priest at Hippo by Bishop Valerius and begins hard obedience, the service of the Church. Five years later he is elevated to the see of Valerius and within a few years becomes the head of the African episcopate.
In his youth, he also experienced a life of debauchery and deviations from the right faith. So in Milan, he began to draw closer to God. There he also met the divine Bishop Ambrose and was delighted by his words. Indeed, his mother, Saint Monica, wept unceasingly, praying to God for his correction.
Who is Saint Augustine?
He remains unquestionably the most important and influential ecclesiastical father for the Western Church since not only his Confessions have influenced theological thought unceasingly over the years, but also his entire development and theoretical deepening knew no competitor, at least until Thomas Aquinas. This is why he was rightly considered the greatest and most influential theologian of the West, even though he did not enjoy the same great prestige in the Church of the East.
Augustine the Saint is indeed a representative personality of the Christian world and beyond. Also is one of the greatest Christian theologians and philosophers. His work has influenced many personalities of the world, but he has also produced significant changes in the European way of thinking. Even Descartes and Martin Luther were influenced in their thinking by the ideas of Augustine of Hippo.
St Augustine is also known as a great healer of souls. His passions were: philosophy, theology, and autobiography. And also: the theory of music, preaching, history, poetry, presbytery, and writing.
Read also: Saint Constantine. Is Constantine a saint?
Biography of St. Augustine
|Full name:||Aurelius Augustinus|
|Year of birth:||13 November, 0354 AD|
|Year of death:||28 August, 0430 AD|
|Place of birth:||Tagaste, Numidia|
|Mother's name:||Saint Monica|
|Father's name:||Patricius Aurelius|
only a mistress for many years
|Summary of life:||He lived in luxury and pleasure and one day God spoke to him and saved him.|
|Life accomplishments:||major contribution in the field of philosophy and religion|
|Death cause:||Normal causes.
Biblical places from the times of Saint Augustine
- Tunisia- Is Ancient Tunisia the nowadays one?
- Ancient Carthage- Did Augustine practice his school in Carthage?
Read also: Saint Cyprian. Bishop and Martyr of Carthage
What is St Augustine best known for?
From Milan, Augustine also comes to Rome, and from there he goes to Africa with his mother and brother. On the way, in Ostia, Monica also falls asleep in the Lord and is buried there. Yet Augustine returns to Rome, where he stays for about a year. He returns to Africa, to Tagaste, where for three years he leads a secluded, monastery-like life with a few friends. But news of his knowledge and piety had reached Hippo-Regius, where Bishop Valerin and the people decided to make him a priest. As a priest, he devoted himself entirely to his priestly mission.
The best-known aspect about St. Augustine is that in 0395 AD Valerin made him co-bishop, and also after his death he remained bishop for good. Undoubtedly, he leads a life of study, monastic renunciation, and charity. Indeed he took an active part in all the doctrinal struggles of the time against Manichaeism, Donatism, and Pelagianism. And also he answers the various accusations of paganism and helps his homeland as much as he can against the Nazarenes.
Augustine asked for Baptism, but his mother announced him only as a catechumen. He did his studies in Tagaste, Madaura, and Carthage, where he came to live in great decadence. Monica tries to guide her son on the path of true faith and true Christian life.
Read also: Saint Irene. Irene the great martyr
What did Augustine study in his youth?
In the years 0373 – 0383 AD, St. Augustine is a professor of Rhetoric. First at Tagaste and then at Carthage. During this period, he was engaged in Cicero’s Hortensius dialogue, which urges the love of eternal wisdom, which would change his life, taking a decisive turn: St Augustine would become a Manichaean. But after a short time, the Manichaean bishop Faustus cannot answer his questions. And Augustine withdraws from the sect. He goes to Rome to found a school of rhetoric. But not having the success he expected, in 384 he travels to Milan where he meets the Christian bishop Ambrose.
Throughout his youth, Saint Augustine devoted himself to the study of philosophy in the New Platonic Academy, then influenced by skepticism. Indeed, the teaching that he had to be content with the skeptical position of truth probably did not satisfy him. Also, he meets St Ambrose, attends his sermons and his life undergoes a new turning point. So rediscovering that fervor for the search for absolute truth, he studies Platonic teaching.
Augustine’s elementary education, received in his hometown, was Christian. He later studied at Madaura and Carthage. Here he went down the road of sin, as he says in the Confessions. That is, he led a carnal life and had a son of flowers. Before becoming a Christian, he was a follower of several cults and philosophical orientations, especially Manichaeism. And dealt with the problem of the clear division between good and evil, being concerned with the problem of the origin of evil.
Key Verse related to St. Augustine
“Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.”
What were damned and elected in Augustine’s philosophical view?
Augustine is one of the most influential thinkers. Especially when we consider that even Platonism influenced medieval thought through Augustine. He remains an authority more than a thousand years after his death, influencing, for example, the thought of Descartes.
According to the philosophical views of Augustine, humans are divided into two categories: damned and elect. We have a responsibility to recognize the God-given path. The absurd is the sign of the divine – everything that obeys the rules of our logic is human, and what transcends our logic is divine. The soul is another order of reality than matter, it is an immortal being of the same substance as Truth. Truth is God, it is in the soul, more interior to me than my most interior self. Faith precedes understanding and knowledge.
Regarded by some as a great church father or a great historian, St. Augustine is also regarded by others as a visionary. He does not narrate, he does not reconstruct history, and he does not interpret events.
Read also: Saint Valentine. History of Valentine’s Day
3 Main Characteristics of Augustine:
His conception was taken up and used dogmatically to reject the Aristotelian conception of Thomas Aquinas. At the time of the Reformation, the concept of predestination and history as healing was especially taken up. And there are also various defining characteristics of Augustine’s life.
One of the most important is that he was the first philosopher to regard history as necessary for the education of people and the liquidation of evil. And in the following lines are presented three important facts about his life.
1. Augustine was attracted to the skepticism
For a time Augustine was attracted to the skepticism of the late Platonic academy, but gradually changed his attitude so that one of his first writings after his conversion was Against the Academics, an attack on academic skepticism.
Augustine does not share the empiricism of the skeptics, believing that knowledge does not come entirely from the senses. The senses, though truly limited and untrustworthy, have practical utility and we must take them as a starting point in this relative sense.
2. He wrote a book: “De Civitate Dei”
The book he wrote is without a doubt a work without which the history of the Western Catholic Middle Ages can never be understood. Regarded by some as a great church father or a great historian, St Augustine is also considered by others as a visionary. Yet he is not a historian, at least not in the general sense of the word.
De Civitate Dei is the work that will enter the subconscious of those who will belong to the Catholic West, of those who will try, consciously or not, to impose on the whole world this sacred book for them, a true religious and political testament at the same time.
3. Augustine launched the theory of divine grace.
Augustine is the first to develop a synthetic theory of divine grace in the context of his efforts to combat Pelagianism. The Pelagianism of Augustine’s day denied original sin but also the immortality and integrity of Adam, in other words, the whole supernatural world.
Augustine’s first principle is to also affirm the complete sovereignty of God over the will. All virtuous acts, without exception, require divine intervention in the form of an efficient providence which indeed, prepares in advance every good act of the will.
- Therefore, he was a bishop, philosopher, theologian, and doctor of the Church. In addition, in his writings, he uses logical arguments trying to prove the veracity of the Christian religion.
- Augustine also opposes a system of hierarchy of sins. He affirms that indeed God is, through grace, the absolute master of the will and that under the action of grace man is free.
- He died in 0430 AD, after thirty-five years of episcopal work. By this time, the Roman Empire was already overextended and dying, and the Vandals were preparing to attack Augustine’s episcopal city.
St Augustine was a wise man and a philosopher, and he considered sexuality immoral, both because of the emotions that accompany it and because the love of the divine was supposed to be superior to erotic love. Augustine also states that people’s freedom remains intact. Augustine never renounces the principle of freedom of will, so his system attempts to achieve a synthesis between the affirmation of freedom and divine grace.
If you enjoyed reading our article, play the following Quiz to test your biblical knowledge about Saint Augustine. May God bless you!
Quizlet about Augustine and The Other Saints of God
Explanation of biblical words
|barren¹|| not bearing (sufficiently), not productive; unproductive
|angry²||relating to the nerves, belonging to the nerves. Consisting of nerves; being caused by nerves. Nervous system = the totality of nerve centres and centripetal and centrifugal transmission pathways in the body|
|venison³||dish, raw meat|
|swear⁴||affirmation, promise, solemn pledge made by a person (often by some formula in which divinity is invoked) to tell the truth about certain facts; oath|
- Arendt, H. (1996). Love and Saint Augustine. University of Chicago Press.
- Augustine, S., Augustinus, A., & Clark, E. (1996). St. Augustine on marriage and sexuality (Vol. 1). CUA Press.
- Augustine, S., & Augustinus, A. (2001). Augustine: political writings. Cambridge University Press.
- Augustine, S. (1998). Augustine: The city of god against the pagans. Cambridge University Press.
- Murphy, J. J. (1981). Rhetoric in the Middle Ages: a history of rhetorical theory from Saint Augustine to the Renaissance (Vol. 277). Univ of California Press.