Saint Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430) was born in the town of Thagaste, on the northern coast of Africa in what is now Algeria. His father, a pagan, was a decurio, a minor official of the Roman Empire. His mother, Saint Monica, was a devout Catholic and provided him with a Christian education, though he did not embrace the faith until later in life. Saint Augustine excelled in school and, at the age of 16, was sent to Carthage to study rhetoric to become a professional public speaker and teacher. At this point in his life, Augustine was a Manichaean, a sect that regarded matter as intrinsically evil and mind as intrinsically good. He also led a life of loose morals, to the great distress of his mother. After graduating, he found a teaching position in Milan where he heard the preaching of bishop Saint Ambrose. The bishop’s influence, along with Saint Monica’s prayers, led to his conversion to the Catholic Faith. He was baptized on Easter 387.
Saint Augustine returned to Thagaste in 389, was ordained a priest and, in 395, became bishop of Hippo. Through his eloquence and ability to clearly present the truth, Saint Augustine won disputes against Pelagius – Pelagianism was a heresy that denied original sin and proposed that man could be saved without the grace of God – and against the Donatists – those who believed that the validity of any sacrament depended upon the personal worthiness of the priest administering it. He wrote extensively. Two of his most known works are: Confessions (his autobiography written 397-401), and De civitate Dei or The City of God (written 413-427)
Saint Augustine died in Hippo, on August 28, 430, at the age of 75. He spent the last days of his life in prayerful study of the penitential psalms, which he had posted on the wall of his room. He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1298 by Pope Boniface VIII.
“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”
St Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (354 – 430)
Feast Day: August 28