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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 326: Heraclius (2)



Heraclius (2)

While still living, Augustine resolved to choose a successor.2 He wanted to avoid trouble and division in the Church over the choice, were he to leave it to others after his death. He did not wait long after his return from Mileve. On Saturday, September 25, 426 Augustine asked the people to assemble the next day in greater numbers as he had something important to tell them. Many assembled on Sunday, September 26 in the Basilica pacis. Augustine came with two other bishops, Religionus and Martinianus, seven priests of which Heraclius is named last, and the remainder of the clergy of Hippo. He gave no instruction. Augustine well knew their impatience at knowing what he had promised to say would hamper their attention. Briefly he indicated he desired peace among his people. To avoid the inconvenience he had observed in Mileve and to give no one place to plead for himself as his successor, he declares his (and God’s) will that the priest Heraclius succeed him. The people concurred immediately by acclamation. Surely the clergy whose counsel and consent Augustine may have requested before speaking to the people also consented. The consent of the two bishops, though they were silent as were the clergy according to the acts of this selection, may be presumed.

Augustine had no need to eulogize Heraclius. He was happy to name and designate him in Christ’s name as his successor. With the approbation of the...

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