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A younger contemporary of Jerome, St. Augustine of Hippo (Aurelius Augustinus) was born in the Numidian city of Thagaste on November 13, 354. While his father, Patricius, was a pagan, his mother, Monica, was a pious Christian in the devout and perhaps slightly superstitious North African style. His move to Carthage marked the beginning of his religious and philosophical quest. There he read and studies Cicero's "Hortensius" and by it was converted to the quest for wisdom and the fulfilled human life. Around 373 he joined the Manichean movement which was widespread and popular in North Africa and which appealed to him because of their apparent solution to the problem of evil, a systematic dualism. In 384 he moved to Milan and there began to hear the preaching of the great Ambrose. Through Ambrose's treatment of Scripture much of the crudeness with which Augustine has characterized Christian Scripture seemed to be overcome. Gradually the inconsistency between his pursuit of a spiritual life and his absorption in immorality created a great tension which was overcome in a garden in Milan when he overheard a child chanting the jingle "Take and read. take and read.". He immediately took Paul's letter to the Romans , opened it, and there read: "...not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires" (Rom 13:13-14). This brought about an immediate conversion and turned him to a form of the ascetic life. Augustine was baptized at Easter in 387, and returned to Africa where he spent the rest of his life. In 391, on a visit to the port city of Hippo in Numidia, he was seized by the people and despite his own tears and protests was ordained presbyter by the bishop Valerius. Shortly after 396 Valerius died and Augustine succeeded him. He remained the bishop of Hippo until his death in 439.

Sources utilized in these pages may include:
  • Everett Ferguson's: Backgrounds of Early Christianity
  • Walker's: History of Christianity (out of print)

    (These links will take you to book detail pages at

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