Augustine of Hippo



Augustine was born in 354 in Tagaste, a provincial Roman city in North Africa. He was raised and educated in Carthage. His mother Monica was a devout Christian and his father Patricius a pagan. His father converted to Christianity on his death bed, which came from the persuasion of his wife. As a youth Augustine followed the unpopular Manichaean religion. His education and early career were in philosophy and rhetoric, the art of persuasion and public speaking. He taught in Tagaste and Carthage, but soon aspired to compete with the best, in Rome. However, Augustine grew disappointed with the Roman schools, which he found apathetic. Manichaean friends introduced him to the prefect of the City of Rome, Symmachus, who had been asked to provide a professor of rhetoric for the imperial court at Milan.


Although Monica pressed the claims of Christianity, it is the bishop of Milan, Ambrose, who had most influence over Augustine. In the summer of 386, in a garden, Augustine underwent a profound personal crisis and decided to convert to Christianity, abandon his career in rhetoric, quit his teaching position in Milan, and devote himself full time to religion, embracing celibacy and the priesthood. Ambrose baptized him on Easter day in 387, and soon thereafter in 388 he returned to Africa. On his way back to Africa his mother died, as did his son soon after, leaving him relatively alone.


In 391 he was ordained a priest in Hippo Regius, (now Annaba, in Algeria). He became a famous preacher and was noted for combating the Manichaean heresy. In 396 he was made coadjutor bishop of Hippo and remained as bishop in Hippo until his death in 430.


With fraternal affection,


Fr. Homero C