St. Augustine of Hippo was born in Tagaste on November 13, 354. He came from a humble and modest family; his father was Patricius who was a curiale of the government and was a pagan. His mother was Monica, who was a Catholic and responsible for bringing both Augustine and his father to the faith later on.
Augustine was a very bright student. His father wanted him to study forensics after he noticed that his son excelled in academia. While studying, he fell into many temptations at Carthage. Like today, there were many vices that existed that attracted naive youth. St. Augustine was not immune to this and fell into these vices. He adopted Manichaeism and then Neo-Platonism before converting to Catholicism in 387.
St. Augustine is the father of Western Philosophy and helped formulate many of Christianity’s tenets of faith making him a ‘Church Father.’ He was an intellectual and gifted scholar who put his talents to use in promoting the faith. He was a professor of rhetoric and enjoyed teaching.
His mother, Monica who is a canonized saint prayed for her son Augustine for all of her life. After reading St. Anthony of the Desert’s story, Augustine began his conversion to Catholicism. He also read St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans which also aided him in his conversion. Augustine was baptized by St. Ambrose alongside with his son Adeodatus in 387 at Milan during the Easter Vigil. A year later he would write, “On the Holiness of the Catholic Church.”
Afterwards, Monica passed on as well as his son. Augustine sold off his family’s property and gave the monies to the poor only retaining his home which he converted into a monastery. He felt called to the priesthood and in 391 was ordained a priest in hippo which is now Algeria. Four years later he would be made Bishop of Hippo. He remained at that post until his death in 430.
He wrote many works which are in use today in both secular and religious institutions. Augustine is a model for all those seeking the truth. He went from Christianity, to Paganism and even skepticism; and perhaps a mild form of atheism. He found faith not only via Monica’s prayers, but also via reason and academia.
The youth of today can learn from Augustine. Today’s youth often go to college with faith and graduate as atheists or are indifferent to religious beliefs and morality. They often fall into many vices while in college as well. Augustine faced the same things. He was met with vices and strange ideas pontificated in schools during his time. Students today face the same threats to their minds and bodies.
Moreover, Augustine is a model for atheists who sincerely want to seek the truth regarding God and faith. He did not resort to childishness or bullying tactics like the so-called “new atheism” of today which seeks to hide behind irrational beliefs instead of opening their cognitive abilities to process God and faith in a rational manner.
May St. Augustine pray for us and all those seeking faith.