GOD IS RICH INMERCY
IN THIS SACRAMENT OF HEALING WE ARE
RECONCILED TO GOD AND THE CHURCH
—CCC, NOS. 1420-1498
AUGUSTINE: THE SINNER WHO
BECAME A SAINT
Very few men have had such an impact on Christianity as St. Augustine.
He was born in AD 354 in North Africa, at that time a strong and dynamic
Christian region. His father was a prominent pagan, but his mother,Monica,
was a devout Christian. She intended that Augustine be baptized, but in his
adolescence he distanced himself from the Church and did not want to be
baptized. He studied Latin literature and became a follower of an esoteric
philosophy known as Manichaeism.
He had a mistress with whom he lived for fifteen years. She bore him
a son, but he later broke off with her while living in Milan, where they had
gone because he had been given a teaching position there. He found
himself gradually more attracted to Christianity as he listened to the
preaching of St. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan. But he resisted conversion,
though his mother prayed persistently for him.
In a book entitled
, written in his later years as a spiri-
tual and theological reflection on his life, Augustine describes the final
steps to his conversion. He had felt the tension between attachment to his