At his weekly public audiences in January 2008, Pope Benedict chose to deliver a series of talks on St Augustine. The following is a summary of some of the points he made during the first three sessions of the series.
Augustine has been enormously influential, so much so that it could be said, on the one hand, that all roads of Christian Latin literature lead to Hippo, the place where Augustine was the bishop from 395 to 430, and on the other hand, that from this town of Roman Africa there branches out many other roads of subsequent Christianity and of Western civilization itself.
Rarely has civilization encountered a figure so great, one who was capable of embracing its values and proclaiming its intrinsic riches, formulating ideas and methods that served to nurture countless successive generations.
Because of the attention paid to interiority and psychology, the Confessions of Augustine is a unique model in both Western and non-Western literature, even including non-religious literature, right through to modern times.
The book’s focus on spiritual life, on the mystery of self, on the mystery of the God Who hides in the human self, is an extraordinary phenomenon that is without precedent.
It remains, so to speak, a spiritual vertex.
Images (at right)
Pictures 1 & 2: Facade and sanctuary of St Joseph's Church in the Augustinian parish of South Yarra, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Picture 3: The Augustinian pastor of South Yarra.
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