Many people ask 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 he opened Holy Scripture, he read the words from the Epistle to the Romans, which changed his life forever. This was God’s answer to Augustine’s quest.
3 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 sea of Valerius and becomes the head of the African episcopate within a few years.
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. He met the divine Bishop Ambrose there 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 essential and influential ecclesiastical father for the Western Church since not only have his confessions 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 a representative personality of the Christian world and beyond. He also is one of the greatest Christian theologians and philosophers. His work has influenced many world characters, 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, clergy, and writing.
Biography of St. Augustine
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Biblical places from the times of Saint Augustine
- Tunisia- Is Ancient Tunisia the nowadays one?
- Ancient Carthage- Did Augustine practice his school in Carthage?
What is St Augustine best known for?
Augustine comes from Milan to Rome and goes to Africa with his mother and brother. On the way to 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 he leads a secluded, monastery-like life for three years 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 toward true faith and authentic Christian life.
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 could not answer his questions. And Augustine withdraws from the sect. He goes to Rome to find a school of rhetoric. But not having the success he expected, in 384, he travels to Milan, where he meets the Christian bishop Ambrose.
Saint Augustine studied philosophy in the New Platonic Academy throughout his youth, 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 enthusiasm 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. He led a sexual 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 issue of the origin of evil.
Key Verse related to St. Augustine
“Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, the huge waves of the sea, the long courses of the rivers, the vast compass of the ocean, 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, controlling, for example, the idea 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 considered by others a visionary. He does not narrate, he does not reconstruct history, and he does not interpret events.
3 Main Characteristics of Augustine:
His conception was taken up and used dogmatically to reject the Aristotelian notion of Thomas Aquinas. At the time of the Reformation, the concept of predestination and history as healing was mainly 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 essential 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. Though truly limited and untrustworthy, the reasons 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 affirm God’s sovereignty over the will. All virtuous acts, without exception, require divine intervention in the form of an efficient providence that prepares every good show of the deed in advance.
- Therefore, he was a bishop, philosopher, theologian, and doctor of the Church. He also uses logical arguments to prove the Christian religion’s integrity in his writings.
- 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 philosopher, and he considered sexuality immoral because of the emotions accompanying it and because divine love 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
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- 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.