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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 316: Papal Authority in Anthony’s Case



Papal Authority in Anthony’s Case

By the council of African bishops Anthony was constrained to restore goods to the citizens of Fussale.1 He consigned them money to obtain communion. As for the article of condemnation the council’s kindness toward him served as a pretext for him to seek papal judgment. The bishops had ruled if he were culpable, he should be deposed from the episcopacy. They had not deposed him and thus could not deprive him of his see. Anthony went to the primate of Numidia. This holy and venerable old man was serious, but Anthony deceived him by artifice and lies. The primate was persuaded of what Anthony said. He recommended Anthony to Pope Boniface as a man against whom there was nothing more to say. This primate, possibly Valentinus of Baia, had not assisted at the council.

Boniface judged in favor of Anthony and wrote to Africa to re-establish him under the supposition that the state of the case had been explained to him correctly. The citizens of Fussale threatened the judges and imperial officers. Soldiers were sent to constrain them to obey the sentence of the Apostolic See. These poor people received more violence in the Catholic Church from a Catholic bishop (who claimed to be their bishop) than they had received in schism from the imperial authority of a Catholic emperor. The pope sent ecclesiastics to Fussale and they could well have been supported by judicial order.2

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