|St Augustine of Hippo (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)|
Born in 354 from a pagan father and a Christian mother, Augustine is a native of Thagaste, which today is Souk Ahras on the Tunisian Algerian border. It was here that he studied Latin grammar before moving to Carthage in 370. There he became a Manichean and founded a school of rhetoric. His next move took him to Italy where he was again converted, this time to skepticism and installed a school of rhetoric in Rome and Milan similar to the Carthage school.
After his return to Tagaste, Augustine decided to live a monastic life, selling everything he had and giving it to the poor, only keeping what was necessary to live on. Augustine at the time had no intention of becoming a priest or a bishop. But in 395 the he was asked to be the Bishop of Hippo. He accepted, and began trying to unify the African Church, that was at the time deeply divided between the Donatist and Catholic sects. In 411 he condemned the division and succeeded in bringing the African Church together.
In modern theology, Saint Augustin is considered the father of the Catholic Church, his writings having influenced the society of much of the Western World. The theories of Saint Augustine were shaped by a marriage between Greek philosophy and his religious beliefs. The blend of these two influences can be seen in his notion of the Soul, the relationship between God and man and even the Trinity.
Saint Augustine often traveled from Tagaste to Carthage, on a specific route which he described in his writings. Nowadays, this path through Tunisia can be followed on organized tours, called On the Path of Saint Augustine. Lotfi Rahmouni, a Tunisian professor of in archaeology, said that the Vatican is among the organizers of this trip in collaboration with Tunisian travel agencies. He said also that the trip is most popular with Catholics, many of whom consider it a pilgrimage.
|Chemtou Bridge; Saint Augustine used to cross on route to Carthage|
The trip starts from Tagaste, at the Souk Ahras in Augustine’s hometown, and finishes in Carthage where he established a school and unified the Christians of Africa in 411. They also pass through Chemtou and Bulla Reggia and sometimes Haidra, where the Bishop spent time with his father.