Named after two Roman Emperors, Aurelius Augustinus (Augustine) was born in Thagaste (in present day Algeria), North Africa on Sunday 13 November 354 A.D. His mother, Monica, was a Catholic Christian, and she instructed Augustine in the Christian religion and taught him how to pray. Monica was one of the greatest guiding forces in Augustine’s life. Through his mother he learnt about the Christian God and the values of a Christian life. His father, Patricius, was a pagan (no religion), however through the example and prudent conduct of his wife, Saint Monica, he was baptised prior to his death.

His parents made financial sacrifices so that Augustine received a Latin education in the local public school. He studied first in Thagaste, then in the nearby university town of Madauros, and finally at Carthage, the great city of Rome.

Adolescence can be a difficult time for any person, and Augustine was no exception. Augustine was a very intelligent student, but he was lazy. As a young man he was more interested in partying than anything else. He was passionate, naughty, craved pleasure, hated pain. He loved knowledge, but hated study, he had an intense feeling for life in all its facets. Whilst this demonstrated he was very human, Monica was troubled that Augustine was living recklessly and continually prayed that he would change his ways.

However, the education he received before turning himself into an exceptional scholar was not as outstanding as his god-given gifts, and Augustine was fascinated by the world of literature. His studies of the Latin language, and reading of Cicero influenced him to study philosophy - the study and the seeking of wisdom. When his period of full-time education ended, Augustine became a teacher in Thagaste in 374 A.D.

For 33 years he had lived a life of experimentation and those who associated with him would never have believed that he would become an ‘intellectual champion’ of the Christian faith. Augustine became torn between his ambition for his promising career as a teacher and the pursuit of spiritual and personal truth and wisdom.

Augustine came under the influence of The Bishop of Milan, St Ambrose, who went on to become his good friend and mentor. When reading the letters of Paul in the Bible, a constant nursery rhyme chanted to him “Tolle Lege” (take and read), and from this a miracle happened, and the heart of Augustine was now for Christ. After this conversion experience, Augustine broke with his old life. He was finally baptised at the age of 33, along with his good friend of 15 years Alypius, and Adeodatus his son, then aged sixteen years.

Upon visiting Hippo in Africa, his homeland, he was strongly pressured by the people that the local community needed him to be their priest and was ordained at the age of 36. Five years later he was made a Bishop in Hippo.

Augustine remained in Hippo for the rest of his life. He wrote 232 books and in excess of 500 sermons. He wrote honestly, not denying his faults and failings, and this enables us to closely identify with the life of Augustine. After the Bible, his book 'The Confessions', was for centuries the world’s second best seller. This book describes how he learnt the hard way, through disappointments and frustrations, and describes his life, his mother who never deserted him, his good friend Alypius, his son Adeodatus, and finally his developing friendship with his mentor St Ambrose.

He died at the age of 76 on 28 August (his feast day), 430 A.D, which we celebrate each year at the College.