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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 238: Demetriada

Extract

ARTICLE 238

Demetriada

Proba and her sister Juliana informed Augustine of Demetriada’s resolution and sent him this gift of herself as a mark of the solemnity of her consecration.1 They assured him that this divine gift was the result of his efforts and exhortations.2 Their letter reached him before the report of Demetriada’s intentions had spread; Augustine was pleased to be assured of such good news.3 He might have doubted its truth had he learned of it by rumor. In his return letter to Proba and Juliana his joy over this miracle of grace can be easily seen.4

Proba and Juliana regarded Demetriada as a brilliant light of splendor for their family.5 They concerned themselves almost exclusively with her, encouraging her with attentiveness to fulfill the obligations of her state worthily. Proba had more care and solicitude for Juliana and Demetriada than for herself, but more for Demetriada than for her mother.6 According to Jerome it was common knowledge that Proba and Juliana had turned over to Demetriada the wealth they had set aside for her marriage so as not to offend Christ, her divine spouse, by giving her to him with less wealth than an earthly spouse would have received.7 She could use what she would have used for secular expenses for the subsistence of the servants of God. The reason she sold the family estates was a generosity all the more praiseworthy because it was opposed to the faults of others.

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