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The Life of Augustine of Hippo

Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)

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 312: Carthaginian Manicheans



Carthaginian Manicheans

In 421 Constance who became associated with the sovereign Roman state through his brother-in-law Honorius addressed to Volusianus prefect of Rome new orders against Pelagians, particularly the exile of Caelestius from Rome.1 The same prince demolished the temple of Caelestis at Carthage.2 He believed without the temple idolatry to this false god could be abolished. Ursus a tribune was employed for this demolition. This fact obliges to ascribe to 421 what happened at Carthage involving the Manicheans.3 Ursus had departed Rome for Carthage. He was both tribune and intendant of the prince’s house and the emperor’s African domain.4 More to the point he was Catholic.5

Ursus arrested Manichean elect at Carthage, both men and women, among others Margarita, not yet twelve years old, and Eusebia, a so-called virgin. Ursus led them to a church to be questioned by several bishops, Augustine included, as he knew this sect better than the others.6 He caused their blasphemies to become obvious from their books. Augustine forced these heretics to avow their sacrileges and from the elect drew a declaration of impurities committed among themselves. Violation of virgins was the least of their immorality.

Margarita testified first. Eusebia was questioned separately and claimed to be a virgin. However, she was constrained by Margarita to acknowledge her confusion. She then confessed other abominations of the sect. She was visited by an adviser as she had requested. The entire procedure was written down; perhaps...

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