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AUGUSTINE


AUGUSTINE


and «;!.■* ordained in 391. The new priest looked upon liis ordination as an additional reason for re- suming religious life at Tagaste, and so fully did Valerius approve that he put some church property at Augustine's disposal, thus enabling him to es- tablish a monastery — the second that he had founded. His priestly ministry of five years was admirably fruitful, Valerius had bidden him preach, in spite of the deplorable custom which in Africa reserved that ministry to bishops. Augustine combated heresy, especially Manichaeisni, and his success was prodigious. Fortunatus, one of their great doctors, whom Augustine had challenged in public conference, was so humiliated by his defeat that he fled from Hippo, .\ugustine also abolished the abuse of hold- ing bamiuet.^i in the chapels of the martyrs. He took part, S October, 393, in the Plenary- Council of Africa, presided over by .\urelius. Bishop of Carthage, and, at the request of the bishops, was obliged to deliver a discour.se which, in its completed form, afterwards became the treatise " De Fide et .symbolo.

(3) {From 396 to 4.30).— Enfe"ebled by old age, Valerius, Bishop of Hippo, obtained the autlmri-


But he was above all the defender of truth and the shepherd of souls. His doctrinal activities, the influence of which was destined to last as long as the Church itself, were manifold: he preached fre- quently, sometimes for five days consecutively, his sermons breathing a spirit of charity that won all hearts; he wrote letters which scattered broadcast through the then knowii world his solutions of the problems of that day; he impressed his spirit upon divers African councils at which he assisted, for in- stance, those of Carthage in 398, 401, 407, 419 and of Mileve in 416 and 418; and lastly struggled in- defatigably against all errors. To relate these struggles were endless; we shall, therefore, select only the chief controversies and indicate in each the doctrinal attitude of the great Bishop of Hippo.

(a) The Manicha-ati Controversy and the Problem oj Evil. — After Augustine became bishop the zeal which, from the time of his baptism, he had mani- fested in bringing his former co-religionists into the true Church, took on a more paternal form without losing its pristine ardour — "Let those rage against U.S who know not at what a bitter cost truth is at-


St. ArcrsTiN'E ox th


zation of Aurelius, Primate of Africa, to associate Augustine with himself as coadjutor. Augustine had to resign himself to consecration at the hands of Megalius, Primate of Numidia. He was then forty- two, and was to occupy the See of Hippo for thirty- four years. The new bishop understood well how to combine the exercise of his pastoral duties with the austerities of the religious life, and although he left his convent, his episcopal residence became a monas- ter}' where he lived a community life with his clerg}', wlio bound themselves to observe religious poverty. Was it an order of regular clerics or of monks that he thus founded? — This is a question often asked, but we feel that Augustine gave but little thought to such distinctions. Be that as it may, the episcopal house of Hippo became a veritalile nursery which supplied the founders of the monasteries that were soon spread all over Africa and the bishops who oc- cupied the neighbouring sees. Possidius (Vita S. August., xxii) enumerates ten of the saint's friends and disciples who were promoted to the episcopacy. Thus it was that Augustine earned the title of pa- triarch of the religious, and renovator of the clerical, life in Africa.


HciRR (Pinturicchio)


tained. ... As for me, I should show you the same forbearance that my brethren had for me when I, blind, was wandering in your doctrines" (Contra Epistolara Fundamenti, iii). .Among the most mem- orable events that occurred during this controversy was the great victory won in 404 over Felix, one of the "elect" of the Manidueans and the great doctor of the sect. He was propagating his errors in Hippo, and Augustine invited him to a public conference the issue of which would necessarily cause a great stir; Felix declared himself vanquished, embraced the Faith, and, together with Augustine, subscribed the acts of the conference. In his writings Augustine successively refuted Mani (397), the famous Faustus (400), Seciindinus (405), and (about 415) the fa- talistic Priscillianists whom Paulus Orosius had de- nounced to him. These writings contain the saint's clear, unquestionable views on the eternal problem of evil, views based on an optimism proclaiming, like the Platonists, that every work of God is good and that the only .source of moral evil is the liberty of creatures (De Civitate Dei, XIX, c. xiii, n. 2). Augustine takes up the defence of free will, even in man as he is, with such ardour that his works against