Who is Saint Augustine? What are some important things about him, and what are some important things about his biography on Confessions of Saint Augustine .
Saint Augustine of Hippo lived from 354 CE to 430 CE in modern-day Algeria. He developed the concept of the City of God- a Catholic city which exists in spirit but not necessarily on Earth. Though he is a patron saint, he did not become a Catholic until the age of 31. It is his writings on his life before Catholicism, and how he came to understand sin, that make up the Confessions. He was very interested in philosophy and the workings of the world, even before his conversion. He studied and taught rhetoric, which certainly played a large part in his success as an ordained preacher.
Saint Augustine is primarily remembered for his work in theology. He is an inspiration to many Catholics with regard to conversion, and during his life he strove to free himself of sinful thoughts and behaviors. He believed that slavery was caused by sin and encouraged his fellow clergy at Hippo to free any slaves they owned. Just as he believed in wrote of the distinction between the spiritual and earthly City of God, he believed in the distinction between (and marriage of) the spirit and the human body. He wrote that the spirit is an eternal substance which may persist after death, and that the spirit is only truly "married" or united with the body when we act according to what is morally and spiritually good. His belief that the passages on creation in Genesis are not mean to be taken literally was quite revolutionary at the time. He also disapproved of astrology and war.
The Confessions is an important text for theologians, Christians, and in the study of autobiography. As I mentioned above, Augustine wrote about his early, sinful life and how he came to understand the necessity of acting with good morals. His writings laid the foundation for the belief that the earthly body is tainted by Original Sin. He believed that a child, left to their own devices, will be sinful because they have not been taught spiritual discipline. For the very same reason, he believed that humans are easily swain into committing sinful acts, and that it takes learning a sense of personal, moral responsibility to act in accordance with God. He relates a story when he was pressured to act sinfully, and stole some pears with friends. He felt that if he had been on his own, he would not have done so.
Though the Confessions are largely autobiographical, Augustine dwells heavily on the nature of creation, sin, and how humans can come to act morally. He believed that through veneration of God and through morally good (Godly) action, one would return to divinity after their time on Earth.