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Augustine of Hippo. The Conversion of Saint Augustine

St. Augustine of Hippo (sometimes called Aurelius Augustine after being confused with his contemporary Aurelius of Carthage) was one of the four godfathers of the Western Church, along with Ambrose, Jerome, and Gregory the Great. He was one of the most important Christian theologians and philosophers, and his writings fundamentally changed European thought. His work provides a bridge between ancient and medieval philosophy.

Augustine of the Hippo (born November 13, 354, Tagaste, Numidia – died August 28, 430, Hippo Rei Gius, in modern Algeria) was a bishop, philosopher, theologian, and church teacher. In his writings, he used logical arguments to demonstrate the authenticity of Christianity.

He studied rhetoric at a young age. Impressed by Hortensius of Cicero, he turned to philosophy. He followed Manichaeism first, then skepticism, and finally Neoplatonism. After Ambrose of Milan converted to Christianity (387), he became bishop of the North African hippo, Regius, in 396.

Who is Saint Augustine?

St Augustine was born in Tagaste (now Souk Ahras), Numidia, in northern Africa, in 354. His father, Patricius, was a pagan and his mother (Saint Monica) was a devout Christian. Augustine’s elementary education, received in his hometown, was Christian.

According to historical sources, Saint Augustine is one of the most important Christian theologians and philosophers, whose works substantially altered European thought. His work forms a bridge between ancient and medieval philosophy.

His theology influenced the thought of Martin Luther, who had originally belonged to the Augustinian order.

Biography of Saint Augustine of Hippo

Full name:Augustine of Hippo
Year of birth:13 November 0354 AD
Year of death:28 August 0430 AD
Birth place:Thagaste, Numidia
Feast Day:28 August
Death cause:Martyrdom.

Augustine equated theocracy with the church. He explained the decline of the Roman Empire, saying that it had become a pagan place and had to give way to God’s castle, the Church.

According to historical materials and Christian records, Augustine of Hippo transformed Christianity through his theology and influenced the thinking of Martin Luther, who originally belonged to the Augustinian sect.

From a political point of view, Augustine argued that state organization was justified and fought for the separation of church and state. In his late work “City of God” (De Civitate Dei), he sees human history as the evolution of the human city (“civitas terrena”), which longs for the city of God (“Civitas Dei”).

What did Augustine of Hippo do?

Augustine identifies the City of God with the Church. He explains the fall of the Roman Empire by the fact that it had become a pagan place, which had to make way for the Citadel of God, the Church.

According to historical sources, in the years 373 – 383, St. Augustine is a professor of Rhetoric, first at Tagaste and then at Carthage. During this period, he was engaged in Cicero’s Hortensius dialogue, which urges the love of eternal wisdom, which would change his life, taking a decisive turn: St Augustine would become a Manichaean.

After a short time, the Manichaean bishop Faustus is unable to answer his questions, and Augustine withdraws from the sect. He goes to Rome to found a school of rhetoric but does not have the success he expected, in 384 he travels to Milan where he meets the Christian bishop Ambrose.

Augustine respected only a part of Plato’s epistemology. Knowledge can only occur through direct contact (as Plato said) with known ideas, which are inherently divine. However, if Plato solved the problem of direct contact (which is possible because the soul has divinity) through the doctrine of memory, Augustine was referring to the Enlightenment, because the soul is created and cannot “keep” anything or bring anything into it Action has no power in its knowledge.

Augustine was the first to develop a comprehensive theory of divine grace as part of an effort against Pelagianism (Quaestiones diverse). Augustinian Pelagianism denies original sin, but also the immortality and integrity of Adam, the entire supernatural world. The idea of ​​Pelagius, derived from the Stoics, affirms the complete liberation of man from God and his infinite power for good and evil.

According to this theory, man can completely control his passions (indifference) without God’s intervention. Due to this ability, human beings have an absolute responsibility to avoid any evil through their efforts. There is no hierarchy of evil, and no evil is beyond the control of human agents.

Key Verse related to St Augustine of Hippo

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

Augustine of Hippo

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