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Augustine of Hippo

St. Augustine was born at Tagaste (modern Algeria) in Africa.  His father was a pagan who converted on his death bed; his mother was Saint Monica, a devout Christian.  He received a Christian upbringing and in 370 went to the University at Carthage to study rhetoric with a view to becoming a lawyer.  He gave up law to devote himself to literary pursuits and gradually abandoned his Christian faith, taking a mistress with whom he lived fifteen years and who bore him a son, Adeodatus, in 372.  After investigating and experimenting with several philosophies, he became a Manichaean for several years; it taught of a great struggle between good and evil, and featured a lax moral code.  A summation of his thinking at the time comes from his Confessions: "God, give me chastity and continence - but not just now."  In 384, he accepted the chair of rhetoric at Milan, and of his tutor, Simplicianus, he returned to his Christian faith and was baptized on Easter Eve 387.  On the death of his mother he returned to Africa, sold his property, gave the proceeds to the poor, and founded a sort of monastery at Tagaste.  He was ordained in 390 and moved to Hippo where he established a community with several of his friends who had followed him.  Five years later he was consecrated Bishop and made coadjutor to Valerius, Bishop of Hippo, whom he succeeded in the following year. Augustine became the dominant figure in African Church affairs and was the leader in the bitter fights against Manichaeism, Donatism, Pelagianism and other heresies.  Augustine's towering intellect molded the thought of Western Christianity to such an extent that his years after his death.  He wrote profusely, expositing and defending the faith, and to this day many of his two hundred treatises, some three hundred sermons are of major import in theology and philosophy.  Among his best best-known works are his Confessions; City of God, a magnificent exposition of a Christian philosophy of history; De Trinitate; De Doctrina Christiana; Enchiridion; and his treatises against the Manichaeans and the Pelagians.  His later thinking can be summed up in a line from his writings: "Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you."  Called Doctor of Grace, he is one of the greatest of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and with the possible exception of Thomas Aquinas, the greatest single intellect the Catholic Church has ever produced.

Born:  November 13, 354 at Tagaste, Numidia, North Africa (Souk-Ahras, Algeria) as Aurelisu Augustinus

Died:  August 28, 430 at Hippo (Feast Day)

Patron Saint of:  brewers, theologians, printers, sore eyes, Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut; Diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Diocese of Superior, Wisconsin; Diocese of Tucson, Arizon

Symbols in Art:  child, dove, pen, shell

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