The great African theologian, Augustine of Hippo, was born on this day in 354 at the Roman city of Tagaste, Numidia--in present-day Algeria. His father, Patricius was a pagan, but his mother, Monica, was a devout Christian who labored untiringly for her son's conversion and who was canonized by the church.
Augustine was educated as a rhetorician in the North African cities of Madaura, and Carthage. As a young man, he lived a dissolute life—indeed, between the ages of 15 and 30, he lived with a Carthaginian concubine who bore him a son, whom he named Adeodatus. Nevertheless, he was an inspired intellectual and thus, Augustine became an earnest seeker after truth. He considered becoming a Christian, but experimented with several philosophical systems before finally entering the church while teaching rhetoric in the city of Milan.
Shortly afterward, he returned to North Africa and was ordained in 391. He became bishop of Hippo in 395, an office he held until his death. It was a period of political and theological unrest, for while the barbarians pressed in upon the empire, even sacking Rome itself in 410, schism and heresy also threatened the church. Augustine threw himself wholeheartedly into the theological battle writing innumerable works of lasting significance--the chief of which are his Confessions and The City of God.
Many scholars believe that in a very real sense these works established the principles upon which Western Christendom would be established in the generations afterward.