St. Augustine

St. Augustine, whose influence on Christianity, according to many, was only exceeded by the apostle Paul, was born in 354 and died during a siege in North Africa in 430. Despite preaching nearly everyday, St. Augustine always found time for his writing. For a 13-year stretch, from 413-426, he penned his most famous and influential work, "De civitate Dei" ("The City of God"), which dealt with the degree of Christian responsibility for the first sack of Rome, the "eternal city," in 410. "The City of God" was the first great work to shape and define the medieval mind. Augustine began by declaring that Rome was being punished, not for her new faith, but for her old continuing sins: lavish acts by the populace and corruption among the politicians. Much of his descriptions were from personal experience. Augustine spent most of his youth "exploring the depths of carnal depravity." But, he wrote, original sin had been committed by Adam when he yielded to Eve's temptations. As children of Adam, Augustine wrote all mankind shared Adam's guilt. Lust polluted every child of God. In his writings, Augustine demanded "purity, chastity and absolute fidelity among husbands and wives." He wrote, "Mankind is divided into two sorts: such as live according to man, and such as live according to God. These we mystically call the 'two cities' or societies, the one predestined to reign eternally with God, the other condemned to perpetual torment with Satan." Augustine identified the need for a theocracy, a type of government where the power would be derived from the spiritual powers of God.