Tomorrow is the 1580th anniversary of the death of St. Augustine. The Church celebrates the Feast of St. Augustine on August 28 each year.
It’s difficult in the extreme to outline all his accomplishments in a few sentences, but suffice it to say that he is perhaps the most influential theologian in history (after St. Paul), that our notions of history itself are largely Augustinian, that he framed the important concepts of original sin and just war, that he is considered the pre-eminent Doctor of the church, and authored the single most important work on history in The City of God, which he completed a few years before the Vandals laid siege on his own city of Hippo. Shortly after his death the Vandals returned and destroyed the entire city, except for Augustine’s cathedral and library, which was left untouched. His writings, including the world’s first autobiography (and the only one to tell the truth by calling it Confessions), could largely be said to pronounce the end of paganism and the triumph of Christianity, though one could be forgiven for thinking the opposite had occurred if one were looking solely at contemporary political events.
He influenced virtually every great theological thinker after him, including, most especially, St. Thomas Aquinas. Our present Pope Benedict XVI writes with an Augustinian perspective. The whole world has been influenced by St. Augustine, and, indeed, in his very life of conversion, penance, and faith, he has lived up to the words of British Cardinal Hume, who said that the life of St. Augustine proves that all saints have pasts and all sinners futures.
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“I try to be a philosopher, but cheerfulness keeps breaking in.” – Dr. Johnson’s friend Oliver Edwards.