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St. Augustine

Augustine of Hippo (354–430) was the greatest of the Latin church fathers. He was bishop of Hippo Regius, a town on the North African coast in the Roman province of Numidia. His impact is still felt both in western churches and in western culture.

Historians know more about Augustine than any other figure in the early church because of his Confessions (397–401) and Retractions (426–427). He was the son of a pagan father and a Christian mother. Both parents sacrificed to provide Augustine the best Roman education.

At Carthage, Augustine abandoned the faith of his mother and followed the immoral practices of his fellow students. In 372 he took a mistress who remained with him for about thirteen years and bore him a son.

The measure of Augustine’s importance is difficult to calculate. He was the first to give a self–examination before God in the form of his Confessions and thus give the church a biblical understanding of a man’s life under the grace of God. In the City of God, he gave a biblical view of history, time, and the state. He gave the Western church a clear statement concerning the person of Christ. He made the grace of God in the gospel the theme of theology in the West.

 

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