St. 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.
As a teenager, Augustine explored the writings of Cicero, which inspired him towards a quest for knowledge which saw him embrace for a time the teachings of Manichaeism, a philosophical school of thought that saw the universe as a battleground between the forces of good and evil. Recognising problems with Manichaean philosophy, Augustine grew sceptical and instead went on to study the teachings of Plato and the Neo-Platonist thinker Plotinus.
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. When his period of full-time education ended, Augustine became a teacher in Thagaste in 374 A.D. 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 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 died at the age of 76 on 28 August (his feast day), 430 A.D, which we celebrate each year as school feast in the School.