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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 318: Clerical Poverty (1)

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ARTICLE 318

Clerical Poverty (1)

Not quite two years before Augustine wrote De ciuitate dei XXII (finished probably at the end of 426) Augustine came into possession of relics of Stephen1 probably toward the end of 424 at the earliest. Sermo 317 may have been preached upon their reception. Sermo 318 was preached on the occasion of placing the relics in the altar in the chapel of his basilica. In the cupola four verses are engraved2 indicating the miracles performed there should be ascribed to God through the intercession and relics of Stephen.

To promulgate these miracles Augustine introduced into Africa the custom of memorializing them in a public reading by those in whose favor the miracle was performed.3 Approximately seventy such memorials came about at Hippo in fewer than two years. Among them Augustine specifies three resurrections from the dead and the cures of Paul and Palladia. Augustine had a small book (libellus) read on the occasion of Sermo 319.

Heraclius had commissioned a chapel to Stephen to be built in Hippo.4 Augustine designated him as his successor soon after. Very probably the relics of Stephen had been placed in that chapel. If so, Augustine’s two sermons on the life and morals of his clerics where he mentions a chapel of Heraclius were preached there, one at the end of 424 and the other at the beginning of 425. Whatever the case, Augustine certainly was already old and gaunt when he...

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