Monday, March 21, 2011

St Augustine and his Mother Monica

The earliest portrait of Saint Augustine in a ...
St Augustine
The early life of St Augustine was a 4th Century example of Christ’s Prodigal Son. This profligate schoolmaster of eleven years left his Christian upbringing to become a Manichaean, a member of a heretical sect, yet would rise to saintly prominence as bishop of Hippo. Throughout that long and often painful journey, Augustine’s mother Monica never wavered in her prayers until his conversion in Milan through the sermons of Bishop Ambrose.

Both Monica and her pagan husband Patricius provided opportunities for a superb education for their son Their hope was that Augustine would leave Tagaste in North Africa to work in Rome.. Augustine, however, became enamored with one of the dualistic cults prevalent in the late Roman Empire. As a student at the University of Carthage, he was drawn to this mystical belief.

Manichaeism juxtaposed perfect good with evil. The belief arose in Persia and was often confused with Christianity. Like Donatism, Manichaeism distorted Christian beliefs. Although suppressed, it would resurface in the heretical beliefs of the Cathars during the Early Middle Ages. Augustine's later discussion of the Trinity may have been motivated by his flirtation with Manichaeism.

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