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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 327: Monks of Hadrumetum



Monks of Hadrumetum

427 A.D.

On September 24, 427 a council assembled in the Basilica of Leontius.1 This basilica is the church of St. Leontius in Hippo where Augustine had preached several sermons. Two canons are reported which Ferrandus claims to be the third and the fifth canons of the Council of Hippo (427). These canons should be dated in the Council of Hippo (393). They are the twenty-ninth and thirtieth articles of Collectio Carthaginenesis where nothing after 419 is found except the letter to Celestine. No further clarification is necessary.

Augustine’s works to the monks at Hadrumetum can be dated no later than 427 because Augustine reports them in Retractationes. As they occupy the last position they should not be placed later than 427. Apparently the wars which began to trouble the peace and to prevent freedom of commerce in Africa in 427 had not yet begun. Hadrumetum was the celebrated city in Byzacena, the metropolis of that province. In that city or just outside it a monastery is found.2 The monks there had the custom of ordaining priests to send them overseas, apparently to Italy.3 Valentinus, Epiphianius, Victorianus, and Paul had been ordained and sent prior to 525. Whether this Valentinus is the abbot of the monastery is uncertain. Valentinus, the abbot, is never qualified as a mere priest. The custom of monastic ordination for foreign service did not conform to Church law at that time. The custom...

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