More than fifteen hundred years ago, a young man from northern Africa was studying in Italy. He was leading in a turbulent life, getting into all kinds of trouble and making his mother sick worry about how he would “turn out”. But he had something quite wonderful going for him: he was a searcher. He knew he was longing for happiness, and he knew that no matter how much he tried to find it (in all wrong places), he came up short of real happiness. It was beyond his grasp. But he kept searching.
At last, partly through a wise teacher who introduced him to a new spiritual vision of life, this young man turned his life around and became a Christian. Years later, in his autobiography, he reflected prayerfully on what he had learned through all his searching. Addressing God, Augustine wrote: “You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rest in you.”
Ultimately we are made for union with God in this life and forever. All our longings for happiness point finally to the One who created us out of love and set us forth on this restless, joyous, wonder-filled journey of life. The young man who recognized this was Augustine, who was later named bishop and, after his death, a saint. Today he is considered one of the greatest thinkers and leaders in the history of Christianity. And it all began for him with him with a young man’s searching heart.
St. Augustine of Hippo is the patron of brewers because of his conversion from a former life of loose living, which included parties, entertainment, and worldly ambitions. His complete turnaround and conversion has been an inspiration to many who struggle with a particular vice or habit they long to break.
Much is known about his life but here are ten facts you might not know about him.
1. Augusta, FL is named after St. Augustine and Santa Monica, CA is named after his mother.
2. Augustine was baptized by St. Ambrose in Milan at the Easter Vigil in 387.
3. His words are quoted in St. Thomas Aquinas’ writings on nearly every page.
4. His mother, Monica, is buried in the church of St. Augustine in Rome.
5. Augustine spent his life fighting the great heresies of the Manicheans, Pelagians, Arians, and Donatists.
6. Augustine did not want to be a bishop so he avoided going to towns where a bishop was needed. He founded his monastery in Hippo where Valerius was bishop, but was immediately made his auxiliary bishop.
7. He worked with St. Jerome on the New Testament Vulgate and is largely responsible for the inclusion of Hebrews and Revelations into the Bible.
8. He was the first theologian to say that men and women were both equal and made in the image of God.
9. Augustine taught in North Africa, Rome and Milan.
10. He published nearly 5 million words before the printing press.
“Too late have I loved you, O Beauty of ancient days, yet ever new! Too late I loved you! And behold, you were within, and I abroad, and there I searched for you; I was deformed, plunging amid those fair forms, which you had made. You were with me, but I was not with you. Things held me far from you—things which, if they were not in you, were not at all. You called, and shouted, and burst my deafness. You flashed and shone, and scattered my blindness. You breathed odors and I drew in breath—and I pant for you. I tasted, and I hunger and thirst. You touched me, and I burned for your peace” (St. Augustine, Confessions).