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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 342: Maximus, Elpidius, and Felicianus



Maximus, Elpidius, and Felicianus

Augustine had written against the Arian heresy on several occasions. His dispute with Count Pascentius2 and Contra sermones Arianorum are among these writings. The letters to Maximus and Elpidius also concern Arianism.

The physician Maximus was involved in Arianism over a long period.3 He had persuaded other members of his family to fall into this heresy. Members of this sect were accustomed to assemble in his house. Manuscripts report him as a Eunomian, the most impious of the Arians, from Thenes, Byzacena.4 God would deliver him from this error in his old age and reunite him to the Catholic Church in the presence of Augustine and Alypius.5 Without doubt they contributed to this conversion and rejoiced with the people of God. Apparently Maximus was zealous in gathering his dependents and those he had formerly misled to the truth. The Catholic community had hoped these Arians would follow him back to the fold. Augustine and Alypius wrote Peregrinus, the bishop where Maximus lived, to apprize him of the conversion. They received a satisfactory response concerning Maximus, though not of his family. Augustine and Alypius wrote Maximus directly, exhorting him to work zealously for the conversion of his family, to press them, and to pray for them and the others formerly accustomed to assemble in his house to lead them to the Church. In the remainder of the letter they dealt with the mystery of the Trinity to strengthen his...

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