St. Augustine of Hippo was an early Christian theologian and philosopher whose writings were very influential in western christianity. He was born on 13 November 354 in Thagaste, Numidia. His mother, Monica was a devout Christian and his father Patricius converted to Christianity on his deathbed.
As a youth Augustine lived a hedonistic lifestyle for a time, associating with young men who boasted of their sexual exploits with women and men. They urged the inexperienced boys, like Augustine, to seek experience or to make up stories about their experiences in order to gain acceptance. It was during this period that he uttered his famous prayer, “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.”
At about the age of 19, Augustine began an affair with a young woman in Carthage. Possibly because his mother wanted him to marry a person of his class, the woman remained his lover for over thirteen years and gave birth to his son Adeodatus, who was viewed as extremely intelligent by his contemporaries. In 385, Augustine abandoned his lover in order to prepare himself to marry an heiress.
In the summer of 386, after having heard and been inspired and moved by the story of Placianus’s and his friends’ first reading of the Saint Antony of the Desert, Augustine converted to Christianity. As Augustine later told it, his conversion was prompted by a childlike voice he heard telling him to “take up and read”, which he took as a divine command to open the Bible and read the first thing he saw. Augustine read from Paul’s Epistle to the Romans – the so-called “Transformation of Believers” section, consisting of chapters 12 through 15 – wherein Paul outlines how the Gospel transforms believers, and the believers’ resulting behaviour. The specific part to which Augustine opened his Bible was Romans chapter 13, verses 13 and 14, to wit:
Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.
In 391 Augustine was ordained a priest in Hippo Regius (now Annaba), in Algeria. He became a famous preacher (more than 350 preserved sermons are believed to be authentic), and was noted for combating the Manichaean religion, to which he had formerly adhered.
In 395 he was made coadjutor Bishop of Hippo, and became full Bishop shortly thereafter, hence the name “Augustine of Hippo”; and he gave his property to the church of Thagaste. He remained in that position until his death in 430. He wrote his autobiographical Confessions in 397-398. His work The City of God was written to console his fellow Christians shortly after the Visigoths had sacked Rome in 410.
He died on 28 August 430. He was canonized and later recognised as doctor of the church in 1298 by Pope Boniface VIII. He is considered the patron saint of brewers, printers, theologians, sore eyes, and a number of cities and dioceses.
“ Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”
Sharon Vas, Student Representative, ACC
Sharon Vas, Student representative, ACC