Like Augustine a native of Thagaste, Evodius was a friend of Augustine who was in Milan when Augustine was there. When Augustine first met him, Evodius was already a baptised Christian. He agreed to return to Thagaste with Augustine, who wanted to form a Christian lay community there. Along with Evodius, other persons were willing to move with him from Milan to Carthage. They were Alypius, who was baptised beside Augustine, Adeodatus, who was the son of Augustine and also baptised beside Augustine, and Monica, the mother of Augustine. A final member of the intended travelling party was Severus, about whom there is a separate Augnet page.
Others already in North Africa were also intending to join the lay community. The group in Milan made their way to Ostia, the port of the city of Rome at the mouth of the Tiber River, to await passage on a ship across to Carthage in North Africa. While they waited, Monica suddenly took ill, and was dead within ten days. She died there on 13th November 387, and Evodius was mentioned in the Confessions as being present.
Augustine wrote, "You, O Lord, also brought to us Evodius, a young man who had served as a imperial agent. He had converted to You. We planned to return together to Africa, but, reaching Ostia, my mother died. Evodius took up the Psalter and began to sing, "I will sing of mercy and judgement to You, O Lord." I struggled to restrain the animal grief which arose in me, and I asked You to heal my sorrow; but you did not do so…" (Confessions 9, 8-13) The plan for the group of Christian friends in Thagaste was put back about a year, during which time Augustine and Evodius, and presumably Adeodatus, went to Rome. When the community eventually began at Thagaste, Augustine brought together late in the year 388 as many as ten persons: Adeodatus, Evodius, Alypius, and Severus who like Augustine were North Africans who had travelled from Milan.
They were joined by Profuturus, Forturiatus, Possidius, Urbanus, Bonifacius, and Peregrinus. They remained together until Augustine was unexpectedly pressed into priesthood at Hippo in the year 391. In this group at Thagaste, the companions of Augustine were not slow in posing questions to him on a great variety of topics. He answered them from the store of his vast knowledge, and probably instantaneously. Evodius appears as a speaker in two of the dialogues that Augustine conducted in the Thagaste community. In his On the Free Choice of the Will, written in 389, Augustine introduced Evodius as the interlocutor. Evodius states that his certainty about the existence of God results from his faith. In Book Two he asks Augustine to "explain to me, if you can, why God gave human beings free choice of the will."
After Augustine was "grabbed" for priesthood by the congregation at Hippo, Evodius followed the same life choice as well. Like some of the other community members, he too was subsequently made a church leader. In about the year 400, Evodius became bishop of Uzalis, a small town near Carthage. He continued to correspond with Augustine as late as the year 414. On church business Evodius travelled as far afield as the imperial court in Italy, whereas Augustine as a priest and bishop never made journeys to Italy. He was one of the first bishops in Africa to recieve and venerate the relics of St Stephen in the year 420. Like a number of other friends Augustine who became bishops, Evodius participated in the Council of Mileve in Numidia in the autumn of 416. The fifty-nine Numidian bishops gathered at Mileve, where another friend of Augustine, Nebridius was bishop. Together they called for the expulsion from the church of Pelagius, who had stayed at Carthage sometime in about the year 412 while travelling to take up residence in the Holy Land. And in order to stress to Pope Innocent I the seriousness of the situation, some of the Numidian bishops (including Augustine, Aurelius, Alypius, Evodius, and Possidius, and most likely their host, Nebridius) added their personal weight to the decision of their Council.
They sent to the pope a joint letter in which they detailed the doctrine of original sin, infant baptism, and Christian grace (gratia in Latin). Augustine: Letters 175, 176 and 177). In three separate epistles on 27th January 417, Pope Innocent I answered the synodal letters of Carthage and Mileve to declare the excommunication of Pelagius. Evodius corresponded with Augustine. In one letter, he asked Augustine how a person can have such strange experiences of telepathy and clairvoyance, or precognition. Augustine replied (Letter 159) that ordinary experience is strange and difficult enough to explain, and such things as this happen, but they are beyond human explanation. It should also be noted that, although Augustine believed that these visionary experiences are important sources of knowledge, the highest experience of God transcends even these means. Dreams and visions do not reveal the nature of God, but they are given by him. They are examples of his providential care, his gifts. Referring to a dream that had brought conviction about life after death, he wrote of this vision: "By whom was he taught this but by the generous providence and care of God?" It is also clear that Augustine found the operation of the inner eye and its lack of dependence upon the physical body to be excellent grounds for belief in the persistence of the psyche of a person after death. It is estimated that Evodius died in about the year 425. Although a minor figure in church history, he nevertheless conveniently serves as an illustrative example of the way that Augustine enjoyed the experience of having a circle of like-minded, intelligent and loyal colleagues.
Letter 163: from Evodius to Augustine. A very brief "hurry up" letter from Evodius to Augustine, reminding him of letters unanswered, and adding a few more questions for Augustine to answer! Dated as 414. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf101.vii.1.CLXIII.html
Letter 159: from Augustine to Evodius. This is mentioned in the text above.http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf101.vii.1.CLIX.html AN1415