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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 286: Jerome and Augustine

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ARTICLE 286

Jerome and Augustine

Jerome was touched by Augustine’s service to the Church against the Pelagians.1 He had previously honored Augustine’s virtue and had loved him in Christ who dwelt in his heart. He added a plenitude of love. His respect for Augustine, already risen to an apex, increased. He could not live an hour without speaking of him—Jerome sent this sentiment to Augustine in a letter. Speaking surely of the opposition to him in Rome, Jerome used expressions leading us to believe Augustine would have resigned the episcopacy rather than consent to absolution of Pelagius and Caelestius. Jerome writes these celebrated words: “Carefully preserve your reputation universally acquired. Catholics respect and admire you as restoring the ancient faith. More gloriously, you are hated and detested by heretics.” Alypius participated in Augustine’s glory. Jerome wrote both of them the following year.2 He wished he had the wings of a dove to fly to them. “God knows with what joy I embrace both of you, especially now when you have together given the death blow to Caelestius’ heresy.”

Jerome’s love for Augustine, principally because he had contributed to the condemnation of the Pelagians, caused him to embrace occasions offered to write Augustine. For that reason he was irritated by Innocent’s absence in 418. Jerome could not give him letters for Africa because he did not believe he would go to Hippo. That did not prevent Augustine and Alypius from writing Jerome, apparently through...

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