Related Links in the GSR:
Related Links in the Library:
Saint Augustine of Hippo was born November 13, 354, in Tagaste, Numidia, and
died August 28, 430, in Hippo Regius. He was bishop of Hippo in Roman Africa
from 396 to 430 and may have been the most important theologian of the early
Christian church during the last days of the western Roman Empire. His best
known works are the Confessions and the City of God. The
first is an autobiographical account of Augustine's intellectual and spiritual
journey toward Christianity, recounting the sins of his flesh and the errors
of his thoughts from his earliest days to the temptations of the present. Although
his mother, Monica, was a devout Christian, Augustine was not baptized in infancy.
His father, Patricius, was a pagan, at least until very late in his life, but
Augustine always retained the fondness for Christianity imparted to him by
his mother. At the age of nineteen, having shown promise during his earlier
studies at home, he was sent to Carthage to study. His family's resources were
modest, but Augustine put them to good use. The works of Cicero sparked an
interest in philosophy that led him eventually to an interest in religion.
At first Augustine became involved in Manichaeanism and with the ideas of the
material duality of good and evil, but by the age of twenty-eight he had grown
disillusioned. Because of his relationship with a woman of low birth, with
whom he had a son, Augustine was allowed only into the lower ranks of the Manichaeans.
He was, however, permitted to ask questions of his "more enlightened" celibate
superiors. They proved unable to answer his many questions about the divine,
and after nine years he left his concubine and son to pursue further studies
in Rome. It was there that he came across the Neoplatonists, in whose ideas
he found solutions to some of his most fundamental questions about the being
of God and the nature and origin of evil. Augustine's most important intellectual
moment occurred while he was listening to a sermon by Ambrose and suddenly
came to appreciate the insights of Christian theology. In 386 he openly converted,
and in the following year he was baptized by Ambrose.