An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Augustine of Hippo

(354-Aug. 28, 430). Bishop and theologian, widely regarded as the greatest of the Latin Fathers and one of the major theologians in the history of Christianity. He was born in Tagaste in North Africa and was influenced greatly by his Christian mother, Monica. He studied Manichaeism and Neoplatonism and struggled with his personal morals. In 384 he became the professor of rhetoric at Milan and came under the influence of the eloquent preacher, Ambrose, Bishop of Milan. In the summer of 386 he was converted to Christianity. He was baptized by Ambrose on Easter Eve 387. He returned to North Africa and was unexpectedly chosen by the people of Hippo to be a presbyter. In 395 he was consecrated Bishop of Hippo and turned the episcopal house into a monastic community. Among his many writings are The Confessions (c. 397-401), in which he interprets his life up until the death of Monica, The Trinity (399-419), which sums up Trinitarian theology in the west, and The City of God (c. 413-427), which interprets Christian history as a struggle between two cities, the city of God and the city of man. Augustine was an opponent of the Donatists, who insisted on the purity of the clergy. He also opposed the Pelagians, who taught that people can live a sinless life and thus be saved. He shaped western Christian thought with regard to the Fall, original sin, predestination, and the Trinity. His contributions are commemorated in the Episcopal calendar of the church year on Aug. 28.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.