Feast day: August 28
Saint Augustine of Hippo is one of the most significant figures in the history of Western Christianity. The influence of his many books, sermons, and letters can be found on virtually every Christian doctrine, particularly the theology of Original Sin. But Augustine was not a plaster saint who wrote from an ivory tower.
Born in Tagaste, North Africa, Saint Augustine was the son of a successful businessman and an ardent Christian mother, Monica. As a youth he was a brilliant student who found the Bible dull and preferred the pursuit of other philosophies. Augustine had an appetite for pleasure, pride, sensuality, and wisdom that led him to Rome in 383. He was followed by his widowed mother, who never tired of praying over his many sins—including living for many years with his mistress.
In Rome, despite his fame as a teacher and speaker, Augustine was tormented by depression. At his mother’s advice, he sought the counsel of Bishop Ambrose. Through the bishop’s teaching, Augustine began to realize that his anxious pursuit of pleasure and quest for wisdom were at their root a disordered quest for God. After a long delay, Augustine was baptized by Ambrose in 387. He quickly became a priest, a bishop, and a defender of the faith.
His classic autobiography, Confessions, is an account of his struggle with good and evil, his conversion, and his testimony to the power of grace. (From The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, Third Edition [Saint Mary’s Press])
(Image © Vicki Shuck/Saint Mary's Press)