Te Augustinum laudamus

August 28, 2008

Thus Augustine, that shining light of wisdom, that bulwark of the truth and rampart of the faith, incomparably surpassed all the doctors of the Church, both in native gifts and in acquired knowledge, excelling by the example of his virtues and the abundance of his teaching.  Hence Saint Remy, commemorating Jerome and several other doctors, concludes as follows: “Augustine outdid them all in genius and knowledge, for, although Jerome admitted that he had read six thousand volumes of Origin, Augustine wrote so many that no one, working day and night, could write his books, nor even succeed in reading them.”  Volusianus, to whom Augustine wrote a letter, says of him: “Anything that Augustine happened not to know is not in the law of God.”

Jerome wrote in a letter to Augustine: “I am not able to respond to your two short works, most learned and brilliant with every splendor of eloquence as they are.  All that genius can say or assume or draw from the fountains of the Scriptures has there been said and treated.  But I beg Your Reverence to allow me to say something in praise of your genius.”  In his book Of the Twelve Doctors, Jerome writes as follows about Augustine: “Augustine the bishop, flying like an eagle over the mountain peaks and not attending to what is at their foot, discoursed in clear language about the broad spaces of the heavens, the length and breadth of the lands, and the circle of the seas.”  And Jerome’s reverence and affection for Augustine appear from the letters he wrote to him, in one of which he says: “To the holy lord and most blessed father Augustine, Jerome sends greetings.  At all times I have venerated Your Beatitude with the honor due you, and have loved the Lord our Savior dwelling in you, buy now, if I may, I add to the sum and bring my veneration to its fullness, lest we let one hour pass without a mention of your name.”  In another letter to the same: “Far be it from me to dare to question anything in Your Beatitude’s books.  I have enough to do to correct my own without criticizing anyone else’s.”

Gregory also, in a letter to Innocent, the prefect of Africa, writes as follows about Augustine’s works: “I am gratified by your interest and your request that I send you my commentary on holy Job; but if you wish to gorge yourself on delicious fare, read the treatises of blessed Augustine, your compatriot, and by comparison with his fine flour you will not ask for my bran.”  In his Register he says: “We read that blessed Augustine would not live in the same house with his sister, saying: ‘The women who are with my sister are not my sisters.’  The caution of that learned man should teach us an important lesson.”

In Ambrose’s Preface we read: “In Augustine’s dying we adore your magnificence, O Lord!  Your power works in all, so that this man, fired by your Spirit, was not led astray by flattering promises, because you had imbued him with every kind of piety, and to you he was altar, sacrifice, priest, and temple.”  Blessed Prosper, in the third book of The Contemplative Life, speaks about him as follows: “Saint Augustine the bishop was keen of mind, suave in his eloquence, thoroughly familiar with secular literature, industrious in his labors for the Church, clear in everyday discussions, well organized in all his activities, acute in solving problems, careful in arguing with heretics, catholic in expounding our faith, cautious in explaining the canonical Scriptures.”   Bernard writes: “Augustine was the mighty hammer of heretics.”

— Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda Aurea
(trans. William Granger Ryan)

One Response to “Te Augustinum laudamus”

  1. […] In past years on this day I have posted excerpts from his entry in The Golden Legend (2007, 2008), but this year I did not have time to get it together.  Instead, here is one of those rare […]

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