Saturday, August 28, 2010

St Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Yesterday we had the feast day of St Monica. Today we celebrate the feast of her son, St Augustine of Hippo, Bishop and Doctor of the Church.

The life of Augustine is well documented. He was born at Thagaste, in present day Algeria, in 354 and raised as a Christian by his mother but left the Church as young man, becoming first a Manichaean, then a Neoplatonist. He took a concubine (whom he later abandoned for an arranged marriage - which never took place) and fathered a son, Adeodatus. After a distinguished academic career at Carthage, Rome and Milan, he was drawn back to Christianity and was baptised in 387.

Returning to Africa, he sold his possessions and gave the money to the poor. He was ordained to the priesthood in 391 and made coadjutator Bishop of Hippo in 395, becoming Bishop in 396, a position he held until his death 34 years later in 430.

Augustine was a prolific writer, including copious apologetic works and texts on doctrine and against the various heresies of his day. His best known work is certainly his Confessions.

As an aside, Thagaste remains a titular see today, with Archbishop Ivo Scapolo, the Apostolic Nuncio to Rwanda, the current holder of the see.