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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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Note 82: Sermo 355 and Sermo 356

Extract

NOTE 821

Sermo 355 and Sermo 356

The relics of Stephen were brought to Hippo in 424 or the beginning of 425. If it was in 424, the chapel where according to Augustine in Sermo 356 he preached a little after the Epiphany would be the chapel of the holy martyr built by the industry and money of Heraclius. Thus this sermon would be preached in 425. The sole problem with this dating is the difficulty in believing Heraclius had kept something of his own up to that time. He could have placed this money in Augustine’s hands or have disposed of it in some other way not contrary to his profession. He had professed to hold nothing of his own. His disposing of the money would not prevent him from saying the money was not his. He had finished building a house a little earlier. This house was necessary for his dependent mother and he had given it to the church after it was finished. He still had slaves whom he later freed.

If the relics of Stephen were brought to Hippo in 425, it would be problematic to say the chapel built by Heraclius is that dedicated to Stephen. In this case Sermo 356 could have been preached at the beginning of 426. Heraclius who had been a deacon was then ordained a priest and designated by Augustine on September, 426 as his successor to govern the affairs of the diocese.2 ← 478...

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