What do we know about Saint Augustine of Hippo?We know much about Augustine because he wrote much, notably Confessions, his autobiography, and City of God, an encouragement to Christians after the Visigoths sacked Rome in AD 410.
Augustine is known for his many contributions to Christian doctrine. However, he didn't always follow Christ.
Augustine was born in Thagaste (now in Algeria) in AD 354. As a teen, he studied in Carthage. By the time he was 30, Augustine was a noted academic in the Latin world. He taught rhetoric at the imperial court of Milan and lived a hedonistic life. He had at least two lovers. Raised by a Christian mother and pagan father, Augustine would abandon the Christian faith, follow Manichaeism (a dualistic view of good and evil vying for supremacy on earth) for a time, then surrender fully to Christianity.
Augustine returned to Thagaste after his conversion in AD 387. He became a priest, then the Bishop of Hippo. After living most of the rest of his life monastically, he died at 76 in AD 830.
Augustine was influenced by the works of Virgil, Cicero, and Aristotle. Augustine's work in turn influenced secular philosophers Kierkegaard and Nietzsche as well as church figures like Thomas Aquinas, Bernard of Clairvaux, Martin Luther, and John Calvin.
Augustine's writings on philosophy, theology, and other musings have had wide-reaching impact. His thoughts on memory and the nature of time still frame modern thinking on those subjects. Theologically, he birthed and advanced the idea that God exists outside of time, in eternity. Augustine also proclaimed the defense of innocents and preservation of peace as "just war." Too, Augustine formed the spiritual idea that there is a visible and invisible Church.
Reformed doctrine owes much to Augustine in the areas of predestination, original sin, the bondage of will, and efficacious grace. Roman Catholics sometimes identify Augustine as "the Father of Roman Catholicism," and say Augustine helped to form the foundations for infant baptism, the perpetual virginity of Mary, and the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Augustine is considered a saint by Catholics, though he was never formally canonized. He is the patron saint of brewers, printers, theologians, and those with sore eyes. His feast day falls on August 28 on the Catholic calendar.
Paradoxically, for both Protestants and Catholics, Augustine is an extremely influential figure of church history who still effects the Church today.
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