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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 351: Vandal Invasion

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ARTICLE 351

Vandal Invasion

The Vandal war occurred in Africa during the last part of Augustine’s life. Count Darius had apparently arrested the Vandal impetuosity the preceding year by an armistice between the Vandals and Count Boniface. He had asked Augustine’s prayers for this armistice to become a firm and lasting peace.1 Augustine was so interested in the tranquility of the state from which the repose of the Church followed as to employ the forces of his piety.2 God whose judgments are inscrutable wished to sanctify Augustine and a great number of others amid the misery of this world whose afflictions are less dangerous than its caresses.

The situation became chaotic again from an unknown cause. Boniface was entirely reconciled with the Romans and made requests and promises to the Vandals.3 He repented too late to oblige or persuade them to leave Africa. The Vandals complained of his insults. As a result, he took up arms against them in an attempt to hunt them down by force. However, he came into their hands at the end of 429 (perhaps), was defeated, and was constrained to retreat to Hippo which was then a fortified city. God put him into Augustine’s hands. Augustine who was soon to depart this world wished to reconcile himself with Boniface as Boniface had reconciled himself with the empire. At the very least, Augustine made every effort at such reconciliation and had brought about a favorable occasion to do so. Possidius...

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