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The Life of Augustine of Hippo

Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)

Edited By Frederick Van Fleteren

The seventeenth century was the century of Saint Augustine. In 1695, Louis Sébastien, Le Nain de Tillemont, finished volume 13 of his Mémoires ecclésiastique, entitled La vie de saint Augustin. The volume consisted of approximately 1200 pages wherein Louis Sébastien gathered from the works of Augustine and elsewhere all extant passages relevant to the biography of Augustine of Hippo. Completed in 1695, the biography was published posthumously in 1700. The work lies in the tradition of Jansenism from Port-Royal and the Leuven. Though an ascetic recluse on the family estate for the last twenty years of his life, he was in touch with important French scholars and the ecclesiastical movements of his time. Louis’ work is the first modern biography of Augustine and the most comprehensive of all Augustinian biographies, even today. Modern authors consult him and frequently adopt his theories without citation. His method exercises influence on contemporary Parisian scholarship on Augustine. This English translation has been divided into three volumes covering three time periods: part 1: birth to episcopal consecration (354–396); part 2: the Donatist controversy (396–411); part 3: the Pelagian controversy (411–430).
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Article 234: Letter to Caecilianus



Letter to Caecilianus

After such cruel and impious treachery Augustine could not remain in Carthage2 and left the following day. When Caecilianus asked to speak with him he was told Augustine was no longer available. Augustine kept his departure secret lest he be detained by the laments, tears, and cries of several considerable men who had gathered in the church to avoid the count’s dagger. Although their lives were safe, they still would have implored Augustine to speak on their behalf. This he could not do with seemliness, given that the count would never have allowed Augustine to speak in the blunt way necessary to save his soul. “Thus, not having the heart to bear such an indignity, I preferred to withdraw while regretting the lot of my colleague Aurelius of Carthage. He was obliged by duty to be a suppliant before so treacherous a man, to request of him sparing those taking refuge in the church and others in prisons.”

Caecilianus apparently went to Rome and from there sent Augustine a letter from Pope Innocent. Its contents are unknown but Caecilianus certainly sent this letter. He did not write at the time because he was busy. So Augustine decided not to burden him with letters except when he was obliged to request a recommendation. Augustine wrote: “I do not ordinarily refuse anyone. The practice is sometimes burdensome, but it can not be criticized.” Indeed, later Augustine wrote to Caecilianus on behalf...

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