Portrait by Philippe de Champaigne, 17th century
Aurelius Augustinus Hippo was born November 13, 354 in Thagaste (now Algeria) in Roman North Africa. He was a Roman citizen. His father, Patricius was a pagan. His mother, St Monica, taught Augustine "the name of Christ".
He displayed uncommon intelligence. At age eleven he went to study at Madauros (city 19 miles south of Thagaste) and it was there he studied Latin and Greek (not to his liking). At age 17, he went to Carthage to advance his education.
He eventually moved away from Christian teaching and followed Manichaen religion. During these years he led an irreverant lifestyle and during this time, uttered his famous tongue in cheek prayer, "Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet."
Una was his mistress for 15 years and they had a son Adeodatus. His mother, St Monica, was greatly distressed. She saw a bishop, and he told her, "The child of these tears shall never perish". She persevered in her prayers for her son.
St Augustine discovered Cicero's Hortensius, opening him up to seek, "the wisdom of eternal truth". An intellectual giant, he was enthused for philosophy.
In 374, he returned to Thagaste and taught grammar. Through his activism he tried to convert his students to Manichaeism. Disillusioned with the students and life in general with no answers to his questions, he moved to Rome. Finding no respite there, he went to Milan in 384.
The Bishop of Milan, St Ambrose, befriended him and through his sermons St Augustine found God and through a series of visions and sensations he read Romans 13:13-14. "Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provisions for the desires of the flesh."
St Augustine gradually put away all his worldly living and changed his ways. And on April 24, 387 and in the presence of his mother, St Monica, he and his son were baptized. He became a priest and eventually a bishop. He was a prolific writer, philosopher and defender of the faith. This theologian is named Doctor of Doctors, Doctor of Grace and Doctor of Love.
A compendium of his works include: The Confessions, On Grace and Free Will, The City of God, On Christian Doctrine, Expositions on the Book of Psalms, On Patience and On the Trinity to name a few. There are over 500 sermons, 200 letters and scripture commentaries.
According to his biographer, Bishop Possidius, Augustine spent the last days of his life studying the penitential psalms, which he had posted on the wall.
This is a beautiful example of God's love, mercy and patience, waiting for us to return to Him through conversion and contrition in humility. It is never too late to enter the path of holiness before the bridegroom comes. Pray to St Augustine and his mother, St Monica, for conversion of friends, children, spouses and many souls.
(1) St Augustine of Hippo: Father of the Christian Church by Charles River Editors, August 19, 2013.
God Bless You