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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 339: Quoduultdeus; Honoratus

Extract

ARTICLE 339

Quoduultdeus; Honoratus

Most admirably Augustine’s personal pain over the evils in Africa did not diminish his faith and episcopal generosity. His sentiments appear in a letter to Quoduultdeus.1 This bishop had consulted him concerning prelates’ moral obligations during these misfortunes. Could they leave their people and retreat to avoid peril? Augustine responded in a few words containing the instruction Quoduultdeus required. He should not prevent the laity wishing to leave for safer places, but bishops should not abandon their churches nor break the chains of Christian love linking them to their ministry. Since their presence was necessary, bishops should do nothing other than deliver themselves over to God’s will and trust in his help.

Bishop Honoratus is called a holy man by Possidius. Later he requested the same guidance for bishops and clerics telling Augustine he did not see remaining in these cities could bear any other fruit, neither for themselves nor for others, than being spectators at human death, violence to women, and destruction of churches.2 They would only be exposing themselves to death by torture which barbarians would compel them to suffer so as to oblige Africans to give them gold or silver which in fact they did not possess. Augustine had already sent a letter to Quoduultdeus, but Honoratus found this letter insufficient since Christ had commanded flight and had practiced it himself.3 Augustine wrote Letter 228. Possidius calls this letter necessary and useful for the conduct of prelates...

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