Augustine was born in Thagaste in Africa of a Berber family. He was brought up a Christian but left the Church early and spent a great deal of time seriously seeking the truth, first in the Manichaean heresy, which he abandoned on seeing how nonsensical it was, and then in Neoplatonism, until at length, through the prayers of his mother and the teaching of St Ambrose of Milan, he was converted back to Christianity and baptized in 387, shortly before his mother’s death.
Augustine had a brilliant legal and academic career, but after his conversion he returned he returned home to Africa and led an ascetic life. He was elected Bishop of Hippo and spent 34 years looking after his flock, teaching them, strengthening them in the faith and protecting them strenuously against the errors of the time. He wrote an enormous amount and left a permanent mark on both philosophy and theology. His Confessions, as dazzling in style as they are deep in content, are a landmark of world literature. The Second Readings in the Office of Readings contain extracts from many of his works.
He was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Boniface VIII in 1308.
Here are a selection of the most loved quotes and wisdom of St Augustine:
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
“I was not yet in love, yet I loved to love...I sought what I might love, in love with loving.”
“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.”
“Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.”
“Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.”
“There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.”
“And men go abroad to admire the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the broad tides of rivers, the compass of the ocean, and the circuits of the stars, yet pass over the mystery of themselves without a thought.”
“The measure of love is to love without measure.”
“In order to discover the character of people we have only to observe what they love.”
“Faith is to believe what you do not yet see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe.”
“Miracles are not contrary to nature but only contrary to what we know about nature. ”