Coptic Date: 22 Mesore
StorySaint Augustine was born on November 13, 354 A.D. at Tagaste, a small town of Numidia in North Africa, not far from Hippo. His father, Patricius, was a pagan and of a violent disposition; but through the example and prudent conduct of his wife, Saint Monica, he was baptized a little before his death.
His father wanted him to become a rich and educated man and cared very little about his character. In his writings, Augustine accuses himself of often studying by constraint, disobeying his parents and masters, not writing, reading, or minding his lessons so much as was required of him; and this he did not for lack of wit or memory, but out of love of play. But he prayed to God with great earnestness that he might escape punishment at school. He later on did so well with his studies that he went to Carthage in 370. There, he met evil friends, and became their leader who was proud of evil, so his life turned into theatres and corruption. As for his studies, he devoted himself to the study of jurisprudence and laws, eager to advance to the legal profession and the judiciary, and he was rich in Latin until he opened a school to teach the statement at the age of nineteen.
At Carthage, he entered into relations with a woman (to whom he remained faithful until he sent her away from him 15 years later). She bore him a son, Adeodatus, in 372. His father had died in 371, but he continued at Carthage and switched to philosophy and the search for the truth. He also studied the Scriptures but from a subjective attitude. He was offended with the simplicity of style, and could not relish their humility or penetrate their spirit. Then he fell into Manichaeism - a combination of pagan religions and philosophy. The darkening of the understanding and clumsiness in the use of the faculties helped to betray him into his company; and pride did the rest. "I sought with pride", he says, "what only humility could make me find. Fool that I was, I left the nest, imagining myself able to fly; and I fell to the ground."
For nine years he had his own schools of rhetoric and grammar in Tagaste and Carthage, while his devoted mother, Saint Monica, spurred on by the assurance of St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan that "the son of so many tears could not perish", never ceased by prayer and gentle persuasion to try to bring him to conversion and reform.
In 383 he departed to Rome, secretly, lest his mother should prevent him from going to the big city. He opened a school for rhetoric, and then was appointed by the government as a teacher in Milan, where his mother, and his friend Alipius joined him. Saint Monica's only ambition was to convert her son to Christianity.
In Milan, Saint Augustine came under the influence of Saint Ambrose the bishop; he began to go to his sermons, not so much with an expectation of profiting by them as to gratify his curiosity and to enjoy the eloquence. He found that the discourses more learned than the heresies he adopted and began to read the New Testament especially Saint Paul's writings. In the same time, the mother of Adeodatus his son left back to Africa leaving the child behind.
Saint Augustine and his son Adeodatus were baptized by Saint Ambrose at Easter the following year in the presence of saint Monica. She knew that her prayers were answered and died shortly after.
From that time, Saint Augustine went back to Tagaste, his native city, and lived for three years with his friends and shared a life of prayer, study and poverty. All things were in common and were distributed according to everyone's needs. He had no idea of becoming a priest, but in 391 he was ordained as an assistant to Valerius, Bishop of Hippo, and he had to move to that city.
He established a sort of monastery in his house, living with Saint Alipius, Saint Evodius, Saint Possidius and others according to the rule of the holy Apostles. Valerius who had an impediment in speaking appointed Saint Augustine to preach in his own presence and he has not interrupted the course of his sermons until his death (nearly 400 sermons).
In 395 he was consecrated bishop as coadjutor to Valerius, and succeeded him in the see of Hippo on his death soon after. Through his 35 years as a bishop of Hippo, Saint Augustine had to defend the faith against one heresy or another. He opposed the Donatists, the Pelagians, and the Alarians. In order to finish his valuable writings, and to provide against a troublesome election after his death, he proposed to his clergy and people to choose for his co-adjutor Heraclius, the youngest among his deacons, and his election was confirmed by acclamation in 426.
Saint Augustine departed on August 28, 430, after having lived 76 years and spent almost 40 of them in the labors of the ministry. Among his greatest work is the 15 volume "On the City of God" which took him 30 years to write, and his "Confessions".
May the prayers and intercessions of the great Saint Augustine be with us. Amen.