Saint Augustine of Hippo  

St Augustine of Hippo was a theologian, philosopher, the bishop of Hippo Regius in Numidia, Roman North Africa in AD 354-430. 

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St Augustine of Hippo was a philosopher, theologian, and graced author who was of Berber origin and a native of Tagaste in present-day Algeria, North Africa.  

Born to a pagan father and a devout Catholic mother, St Augustine’s teenage years embodied the rebellion during which he abandoned his faith, stayed away from home to avoid his mother’s relentless admonitions, and even fathering a child outside marriage.  

Despite being recognized a brilliant teacher of oratory by the Roman emperor at the time and appointed to teach in Milan, St Augustine was restless. He was at the peak of his career and had everything working for him, yet he yearned for something more. This longing led him to the Manichean cult and later to Hellenistic philosophy. However, the preaching of St Ambrose, bishop of Milan, would flood his mind and intellect with the light, eventually putting his blindness to flight. 

St Augustine accepted baptism in AD 386, renouncing his old life: job, mistress, and the city of Milan. He embraced the life of service to God as a priest and later Bishop of Hippo, a little coastal town in North Africa.  

Many years after his conversion experience, St Augustine would write his Confessions: an autobiography in which he bares it all, hiding nothing of who he had been. Bemoaning his late discovery of the unending peace, love and joy that can only come from fully embracing the life of grace that faith in our loving God affords us. He wrote:  

Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you. And see, you were within, and I was in the external world and sought you there, and in my unlovely state, I plunged into those lovely, created things which you made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The lovely things kept me far from you, though if they did not have their existence in you, they had no existence at all. You called and cried out loud and shattered my deafness. You were radiant and resplendent, you put to flight my blindness. You were fragrant, and I drew in my breath and now pant after you. I tasted you, and I feel but hunger and thirst for you. You touched me, and I am set on fire to attain the peace which is yours (Confessions X.xxvii.38).  


By Sr Vivian Onyeneho, Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus

St Augustine’s story demonstrates the whirlwind ride through life in search of the Truth and the redemptive power of God’s love.  

His many writings and teachings earned him the honour of being a Doctor of the Church, but his Confessions is a classic story that every restless soul can identify with. He remains a symbol of true repentance and freedom that comes with realising that we are known and loved.  

Our true identity lies in God. Coming to this knowledge alone can be the much-needed antidote for many facing identity crises in today’s world. Book clubs in our Catholic schools or faith-based classical studies on the life of St Augustine could prove effective in leading people, young and old, to recognise their restlessness, ask the right questions, and hopefully forge their pathway back to the place of rest, in the heart of our Creator.  

As St Augustine once noted: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”  This eternal Truth, so well-articulated, is the guiding compass in my life’s quest for lasting love, peace, and joy. More so, what inspires me the most is St Augustine’s sheer humility in disclosing his faults. His confessions speak to people throughout history and remain relevant today.