There is very little directly-biographical material to cover Augustine’s life from where his Confessions ends with the death of his mother, Monica in 387 AD until the point at which the Life of Augustine by Possidius describes his death in 430 AD. Judging, however, from comments in Augustine’s later writings and from the words pictures that Possidius paints, it seems most likely that Augustine was less surrounded by friends as his life went on.
This was not his desire, but simply the reality that members of his earlier communities were called to be bishops in other dioceses, and many of Augustine’s other friends he knew only through his correspondence with them, and many of these did not live to the great age of seventy-six years that Augustine attained. It has been said that this slow disintegration of his circle of friends was one of the great trials of his life.
In Letter 84, Augustine wrote, “But when you yourself begin to have to surrender some of the very dearest and sweetest of those you have reared to the needs of churches situated far from you, then you will understand the pangs of longing that stab me on losing the physical presence of friends united to me in the most close and affectionate intimacy.” He maintained to the end of his life his natural clannishness as an African.
As Augustine lay dying in 430 AD, all of Mauretania and Numidia along the coast of North Africa was being attacked by Vandals. They raped, tortured, and pillaged, and burned Catholic churches along the way. Catholic bishops and refugees fled to Hippo, which was a fortified city. And then, towards the end of May 430, the Vandals appeared before Hippo. It was the most strongly fortified city in this region, and they began a siege of fourteen months.
In August 430, four months later, Augustine lay dying in Hippo. That summer Augustine had a fever - probably malaria - which he thought would be fatal. Death had long been a subject of his meditations, and he now talked of it with serene confidence in the mercy of God. He asked for the penitential psalms of David to be written out and hung on the wall by his bed. He had prayed with his people for the gift of perseverance in the faith by which the weak individual can come to share in the eternal stability of Christ.
His mind was sound to the end. On 28th August 430, after ten days of fever at the great age of seventy-six years, Augustine calmly resigned his spirit to God. Bound as a father to his spiritual family, Augustine as Bishop of Hippo had stood firm until the end while his community and congregation were being scattered and destroyed in the violence around them. Professor James O'Donnell wrote, "In the end, Augustine and his own experience, so vividly displayed and at the same time veiled in his Confessions, disappear from view, to be replaced by the serene teacher depicted in medieval and Renaissance art. It is worth remembering that Augustine ended his life in the midst of a community that feared for its material existence. He chose to spend his last days in a room by himself, posting on a wall where he could see them the texts of the seven penitential Psalms, to wrestle one last time with his sins before meeting his creator."
Augustine was first buried within his basilica at Hippo. And, to the very end of his life, he had remained deeply - and, to his own mind, dangerously - in love with the world, a world he described as a "compressed pile of blessings." AN1212