Saint Augustine of Hippo

Saint Augustine of Hippo biography
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Saint Augustine of Hippo biography

Aurelio Agustín de Hipona (November 13, 354 – August 28, 430) theologian. He was born in Tagaste, currently Algeria. His father named Patricio was a pagan, violent, drinker and infamous official at the service of the Empire. His mother Monica, on the other hand, was sweet and self-sacrificing, living her life under the Christian religion. She educated her son in her religion, although, she did not baptize him. Agustín had an irascible personality, a superb and unruly attitude, although exceptionally intelligent. For this reason, he took charge of his studies, although he was slow to apply them; After completing the grammar classes in his native land, he studied the liberal arts in Metauro and then rhetoric in Carthage. In his youth, he certainly did not follow the moral precepts instilled by his mother and until he was 32 years old, he led a licentious life, clinging to the Manichean heresy.

At eighteen, Agustín met his first concubine, with whom he had a son whom they named Adeodato. He was not really an exemplary father, he lived among the excesses, he had an inordinate fondness for theater and other public spectacles, he was also blamed for some robberies. This lifestyle made him renounce his mother’s religion. He claimed that Christianity was an imposed faith and was not founded on reason. He began to take an interest in philosophy, and in these postulates found accommodation for some time, he leaned towards moderate skepticism. However, in Carthage joins a group that preached Manichaean dogma, from that moment he was able to resolve his many concerns about various moral problems, which would accompany him throughout his life, was determining his adherence to Manichaeism, the religion of fashion at that time. Basically, he argued that there are two principles of all things, dualism, a principle of good and another of evil. The first has created spiritual things and the second the materials.

In 384 Agustín de Hipona travels to Milan to practice as a professor of oratory. There he delves into the ancient thinkers and devours some texts of Neoplatonic philosophy. The reading of the Neoplatonic authors probably weakened the Manichean convictions of Augustine and modified his conception of the divine essence and of the nature of evil; equally influential would be the sermons of St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan, who argued on the basis of Plotinus to demonstrate the dogmas and whom St. Augustine listened to with complacency, and this bishop had the ability to give brilliant interpretations of the bible.

“Pray as if everything depended on God. Work as if everything depended on you.” Saint Augustine of Hippo

In his search for the truth he studied the epistles of St. Paul, through them he discovered the affirmation that only the grace of Christ can save man, a doctrine that was another pillar of his thinking in the future. Over time he gave himself up to burning hymns, fasting, and various abstinences. Fully converted, in 387, when he was 33 years old, he was baptized by St. Ambrose and consecrated himself definitively to the service of God. He began to share more time with his mother, to share the word of God, unfortunately, the time was short because death interrupted it.

For the year 388, he returned to Africa. Some years later he was ordained a priest in Hippo by Bishop Valerio, who entrusted him with the mission of preaching among the faithful the word of God, a task that St. Augustine fulfilled with enthusiasm. To do this, Bishop Valerio donated a garden where he instituted a monastery, where he held preachings, even to enunciate a sermon before the bishops of Africa, gathered in Hippo, in 393. His recognition aroused admiration and hatred among people, for example, he received strong criticism from heretical currents and schisms that threatened Catholic orthodoxies, such as the Manichaeans, Pelagians, and pagans.

The situation in the Roman Empire for the year 410 was complex, the pagans reorganized their attacks against Christianity. In response, St. Augustine wrote his great work The City of God. It is a compendium of postulates divided into 22 books, expressing a new form of civil society, which aims to promote the values ​​of humanity by virtue of living according to Christian doctrine. In conclusion, for Hippo, a fully Christian Rome could move from an earthly empire to a spiritual one.

“The measure of love is to love without measure.” Saint Augustine of Hippo

His philosophical works such as the Soliloquies, the Confessions and The City of God, are the sample of his extraordinary testimonies of faith and his theological wisdom. His dissertations usually had as a central theme the relationship of the soul, lost by sin and saved by divine grace. In short, man contains an immortal rational soul that serves, as an instrument, a material, and mortal body. Hence his character essentially spiritualist, against the cosmological tendency of Greek philosophy. Augustine of Hippo lived 40 years of his life consecrated to the service of God, he died at the age of 72, in the year 430.

The thought of Saint Augustine of Hippo extended a bridge between the classical world and the medieval world, also laid the foundations of philosophy and Christian doctrine.

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