By the year 404, the more cosmopolitan people of Carthage had heard Augustine as a visiting preacher for seven years, but they had not always liked what they heard.
They were certainly a different congregation to the much more "smaller town" people in Augustine's basilica (church) in Hippo.
The attempts of Augustine to reform the Catholic cult of veneration of martyrs had made him unpopular with many members of the congregation of the church of Carthage.
He preached, however, what he thought was necessary, and accepted the consequences.
The abolition of songs and of dance and drinking at the grave of Saint Cyprian, combined with measures to separate the sexes as they entered crowded churches and pressed past each other around the tombs of the martyrs, caused resentment against him in Carthage.
Peter_Brown, a great contemporary scholar on Augustine and the Rollins Professor of History at Princeton University, New Jersey in the United States of America, has recorded that this resentment exploded on the night of 22nd January 404.
It was the feast day of Saint Vincent of Tarragona, held in the large cathedral (basilica) of Bishop Aurelius in the middle of Carthage.
Augustine stood up to preach. But would his weak voice carry in so large a building?
Some of his listeners surged forward towards the apse, to be closer to him. Another part, however, gathered around the altar that stood in the middle of the church, as was usually the case at that time.
The people in the middle of the church shouted for Augustine to come down to them, so as to speak (as he had done on other occasions) from the centre of the building, surrounded on all sides by the people.
It was, in itself, a good proposal. The group that had moved towards the apse halted and began to turn back. Some people pushed the others as they made their way back to the altar.
A chant went up from the group around the altar for Augustine to hurry up and come down to them.
It was a moment of chaos, and Augustine did not approve of it. He was plainly angered by the shouting and jostling.
He abruptly turned his back on the people, returned to the bench on which the leader sat, and no longer showed any intention of preaching.
Some of his listeners were angry at this impasse. They felt that by refusing to preach Augustine was treating them with contempt.
A rhythmic Latin chant of Missa sint, ("Let's get on with the Mass!"), went up from the middle of the church.
They were no longer interested in a sermon from him that day. By his hasty gesture, Augustine lost the opportunity to preach on the anniversary of a major Catholic saint.
(Continued on the next page.)