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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 352: Augustine’s Death

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ARTICLE 352

Augustine’s Death

Surely Possidius wished to report during Augustine’s last illness what he wrote somewhat later.1 A man came with his sick son to find Augustine, himself sick and bed-ridden. The man begged Augustine to lay his hands on his child to heal him. Augustine responded that if he had such a power he would use it on himself. This man said to Augustine he had a dream where it was said to him: “Go find bishop Augustine. Beg him to lay his hands on your son and he will recover his health.” When Augustine heard this, he quickly did what was asked of him. The Lord heard him and the sick child was immediately cured. By this miracle at the end of his life God willed to approve the sanctity of his life and his learned and pious writings.2 Possidius writes: “I know when he was a priest and later when he was a bishop people came to him asking his prayers for the possessed. When Augustine offered his prayers and tears to God these people were often delivered from the demons.” Other exterior miracles are unknown.

Augustine often said to his friends in intimate conversation that either the simple faithful who have lived morally since their baptism or bishops and other ministers must take care not to leave this world without true penitence proportioned to their sins.3 He followed his own counsel in his last illness. He ordered the penitential...

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