As the leader of the church in Hippo, Augustine could afford neither to discount nor to overlook the effect of the cult of martyrs on the local people.
It was heavily impregnated throughout North African Catholic belief and customs.
For his people in Hippo, the fiesta of a martyr was a big occasion.
They were a social rather than a religious event. They were a time of celebration during the warm summer nights.
As a happy escape from drab routine, they involved singing, drinking and even rhythmic dancing.
Augustine tried to make the feasts of the martyrs less dramatic because he wished his people to keep in mind the daily working of God in their own hearts.
He wanted them to focus on the frequent, less dramatic, but no less spectacular, triumphs of the grace of God in the present time and in their own lives.
He feared martyrs being perceived as so far "above" others as not to be role models.
He did not wish the lives of the martyrs to be accepted as so exceptional that they were not relevant to the daily life of the average Christian.
In this way, Augustine - the "Professor of Grace" or Doctor Gratiae of the Church - insisted that the grace (in Latin, gratia) of God was always present, and, so, that any Christian, at any time, could be a "martyr" who witnessed Christ in his or her own way.
He said, "God has many martyrs in secret. We would not wish for a return to the pain which our ancestors suffered at the hands of the authorities."
The grace of God (gratia Dei) was everywhere and for every person.