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Augustine was born to a pagan father and Christian mother, St. Monica, in a North African farming village near the border between present day Algeria and Tunisia. In his time, the region was a province of the Roman Empire. Augustine received classical education and training in rhetoric at Carthage. He then held teaching positions there as well as in Milan prior to his conversion and baptism in 387. After returning to Africa, he was ordained and subsequently appointed Bishop of Hippo Regius. He actively tended his episcopate there until his death over 30 years later. Since then, St. Augustine's copious writings have continued to influence Christian dogma and theology.
In this icon, to represent his intellectual contributions and stature as a Doctor of the Church, St. Augustine holds a scroll which is surrounded by flames and bears a quotation from his Confessions, a spiritual autobiography. Augustine's garment reflects those worn in antiquity by Alexandrian bishops. And the swirling golds of the background recall the movements of grace which transform the restless human spirit.
(This narrative is printed on the back of Note Cards. A copy is included with each plaque.)
A Meditation of St. Augustine
Late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient and so new. Too late have I loved you!
You were within me while I had gone outside to seek you. In my unloveliness, I fell heedlessly upon all those lovely things you had made. Always you were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me far from you; yet if they had not been in you, they would not have been at all.
You called, you shouted, you broke open my deafness. You blazed, you gleamed, you banished my blindness. You lavished your fragrance, I gasped, and now I long for you. I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst. You touched me, and now I burn with desire for your peace.
– Confessions (X, 27,38)
(This prayer is printed on the back of Prayer Cards only.)
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© N. Oliphant