Saint Augustine was born on 354 CE in Tagaste, Africa.
His given name was Aurelius Augustinus. His father was
Patricius, a pagan who was baptized Christian before he
died, and his mother was Monica, a baptized Christian with
an influential role in the life of her son. Augustine is
regarded as one of the most intelligent Christian theologians
and bishops of all time. His works and actions have left a
major imprint on the Church and its doctrine.
As a boy, Augustine was not baptized and grew up in the
Roman Empire. He studied under the local schoolmasters
in Tagaste until he turned fifteen and moved to continue his
studies in Madaurus. From Madaurus, he moved to
Carthage for advanced studies in rhetoric and law. It was in
Carthage that he took a concubine and later had a son
named Adeodatus from her. It was in this period of his life
that embraced Manichaeism, which is a belief that one god
is responsible for all good and another responsible for all
evil. Augustine’s belief in Manichaeism prompted Monica,
his mother, not to allow his entrance into the family’s house.
Even with her actions, she continued praying and hoping
that Augustine would find the Lord. After he ended his
studies in Carthage, he became a teacher and was
constantly on the move throughout Northern Africa.
Augustine stopped teaching and moved to Milan where he
gained the position of Public Orator. In Milan, Augustine
met Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan. Augustine grew to love
Ambrose’s allegorical interpretations of the Bible and this
led to his appreciation and new understanding of the
Scripture. He also studied and learned to appreciate
Plato’s works and started linking a lot of his works into the
meaning and messages in the Bible. Augustine’s family,
including his mother, joined him in Milan. Her constant
prayers for his conversion to Christianity and the strict
ethical demands of Ambrose made Augustine’s
appreciation of Plato’s work grew deeper. It made him no
choice, but to convert to Christianity. On Easter Sunday of
387 CE in Milan, Augustine along with his son and his
friend, Alypius, were baptized by Ambrose.
After Augustine’s mother passed away, he traveled
throughout the Roman Empire. He wrote many of his
books on theology along the way. He had no aspirations of
priesthood, but through a mere chance visit at Hippo in
Africa; the bishop Valerius needed a parish priest.
Augustine appeared to be the best candidate, and in 391
CE, he was ordained. Augustine’s model for his ministry
was St. Paul and he found St. Paul as a mentor. In Hippo,
he set up a monastery for the sake of training new priests.
With Augustine’s many contributions to Hippo, Bishop
Valerius requested Augustine to become his Co-adjutire. A
year later, Valerius passed away and Augustine became the
Bishop of Hippo.
While Augustine was bishop, he wrote some of his greatest
works, which still survive today. The first of these is
Confessions, where he...