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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 273: Caelestius in Rome



Caelestius in Rome

Pope Innocent in Rome and the entire church in Africa had condemned Pelagius and Caelestius. These declared heretics judged correctly their reputation would be completely lost if this condemnation were to endure. Without doubt this judgment obliged Pelagius to write Innocent in an attempt to justify himself. Caelestius came to Rome in person. Whatever remorse of conscience they may have had, they believed they had adequate artifice and friends in sufficient number in Rome to deceive the Roman church.2 They hoped to persuade various Roman clergy of their teaching.3 In particular Sixtus, a priest and future bishop of Rome, favored their teaching on grace.4 Bishop Julian was also of this mind.5

Where Caelestius went after he departed Africa in 411 or 412 upon his excommunication by the Council of Carthage (412) and where he resided later are unknown. According to Augustine he may have been in Sicily in 414 where and when his heresy was rife.6 In 415, again according to Augustine, he was not in Sicily.7 However he had several disciples there and his works were found in that place. Orosius gives us some reason to believe Caelestius was in Palestine in 415, but more than likely he was not.8 Mercator resolves all doubts by telling us that from Carthage Caelestius went to Ephesus and there aspired audaciously to the dignity of the priesthood.9 The African bishops wrote in 416 to the effect that they knew he had...

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