Saint Augustine

God speaks through strange events and strange people

August 28th is the ‘Feast Day’ of Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430).

The famous story of his conversion involves a strange experience in a garden in Milan. Torn between a calling to live a life of chastity and remembering his former life, he prayed for forgiveness and immediately heard the voice of a child singing from a neighbouring house, “Take up and read!” He picked up a book of St Paul’s epistles which had been left nearby, and the words he found there changed him forever. He moved to North Africa to pursue a monastic life, but was called to be ordained and later became bishop of Hippo, where he served for 35 years.

Augustine has been rightly criticized for some elements in his teaching, including passing on a harmful view of the human body. He was not perfect, yet his teaching and example have inspired millions of people over many centuries. He himself insisted that grace is the heart of our faith.

God uses strange events and strange people—even us—to invite us to new insights and new depths of community.