This is the first of seventeen pages on "Augustine in Africa again." They deal with his life from the year 388 until his death in 430 AD. Use the vertical navigation bar at the left of this page to access the other pages in this section.
Augustine travelled from Italy to his home town in Northern Africa to form a lay Christian community. From September 387 onwards, Augustine and his party moved from Milan to Ostia to await passage across the Mediterranean Sea to the port of Carthage in North Africa, but were delayed at Ostia. A civil war was raging in the Roman Empire; Ostia, which at the mouth of the Tiber River served as the port of Rome, was blockaded. To wait out the blockade, Augustine went to Rome for about one year with Evodius, later bishop of Uzalis - his friend who had also been with him in Milan and at the death of Monica in Ostia. He eventually sailed for Africa in August 388, when the death of the tyrant Maximus had ended the naval blockade of the port of Ostia. After a short sojourn in Carthage, he returned to his native town, Thagaste. Immediately upon arriving there, he wished to carry out his idea of a perfect life. He began by selling all his goods and giving the proceeds to the poor. Augustine and his son, Adeodatus, withdrew to his estate, which had already been alienated.
Image (below): Augustine lands at Carthage, en route to the home of his deceased parents at Thagaste in order to commence a Christian community with a few kindred spirits who accompanied him from Ostia in Italy. This fresco is located at the Augustinian Church at Gubbio in northern Italy. Without apparent concern for historical accuracy, it depicts Augustine (with halo, at right) and his comnpanions already vested as community members - definitely precipitate at that stage. For the Augnet photo gallery on Gubbio, click here.
Here in his native Thagaste he assembled a monastic community late in in the year 388: Evodius, Alypius, and Severus who came with him from Italy. They were joined by Profuturus, Forturiatus, Possidius, Urbanus, Bonifacius, and Peregrinus. Augustine led the group in a common life in frugal living, prayer, and the study of sacred letters. They remained doing so until Augustine was unexpectedly pressed into priesthood at Hippo in the year 391. Possidius, later his fellow bishop and his biographer, wrote of those Thagaste years that they spent together. In his Life of Augustine, he wrote: "Having laid aside all worldly cares, he lived there with his disciples for nearly three years, in fasting, prayer and good works; meditating day and night the law of the Lord and living entirely for God. He instructed the present, and the absent by word and writing, according to the light he received from God."
Manual work was an important part of the community's regime. Followers of Donatism later accused Augustine of being an innovator in this form of lay community living, but in fact he had modelled it on what previously he had seen in Rome immediately before departing Italy for North Africa. On an intellectual plane the community members were not slow in posing questions to Augustine on a great variety of topics. He answered them from the store of his vast knowledge. These questions together with the responses by Augustine were later collated by Augustine and published as his work entitled Eighty-three Questions. The community with Augustine at Thagaste came to an end soon after he was called to Christian service in Hippo as a priest. In one sense, this community was the parent of his later attitude to the somewhat different monastery he founded in Hippo when he became a priest and later again a bishop.
Photo GalleryFor the Augnet gallery about Augustine and the Augustinians in Algeria, click here.
Augustinian Video:The Archaeological Remains of St. Augustine's North Africa
St. Augustine of Hippo was the most influential Church leader and writer in Western Christianity since St. Paul the Apostle. Among his contributions to Christian thought and life is his role as one of the principal Patriarchs of Western Religious Life. This video provides a tour of the places where St. Augustine lived and worked. It reviews his life by examining the land and archaeological remains of Augustine's Roman civilization. This video was produced by Father David L. Brecht, O.S.A. at the now-closed Tolentine Center in Olympia Fields, Illinois.
© 2000 David L. Brecht, O.S.A., Tolentine Center, Olympia Fields, IL. Gozzoli frescoes by license from Scala/Art Resource, NY. Slide B of baptistery at Hippo Regius courtesy of Michael J. Slattery, O.S.A. Picture of St. Monica (Sotomajor) by permission of Augustinian Press, Villanova, PA. Video Production by Com-Video Productions LLC, De Pere, WI. Audio post production by TMC Midwest. Produced by American City Bureau, Hoffman Estates, IL. http://midwestaugustinians.org/videos/archaeology
Retorno al Africa. (A web page written in Spanish.) Sacerdote, obispo y monje El obispo de Hipona ya tenía informados a los fieles de sus deseos. Con insistente griterío pedían a Agustín que fuese su sacerdote. Le llevaron contra su voluntad y le presentaron a Valerio para ordenarle sacerdote….. http://www.oala.villanova.edu/agustin/retorno.html AN1201