St. Augustine of Hippo
Born of middle class parents, Patrick and Monica, in the town of Thagaste, North Africa, in 354 AD, Augustine quickly demonstrated both an independent spirit and a gifted, enquiring intellect.
Not yet baptised, he rejected the fervent Christianity of Monica and immersed himself in the pagan immoralities common among the adolescents of his time.
At the age of seventeen he took a common-law wife, and with her had a son, Adeodatus ("Godsent"). To her he was utterly faithful until they parted some sixteen years later. After that, he had much difficulty in bridling his sexual impulses, even to taking another mistress until his young intended bride should come of age a few years later.
This difficulty came to an abrupt end as a result of his famous conversion in the garden of a villa outside Milan when he was 32 years of age. Baptised by Ambrose, bishop of Milan, during the Easter Vigil of 387, and following the deaths of both Adeodatus and Monica, he gave himself over to a monastic life of contemplation and prayer in the company of his close friends and followers.
Four deep convictions motivated Augustine's life: (1) that we were made by God for union with God; (2) that only by God's mercy extended to us in Christ Jesus could that union be accomplished; (3) that only through Jesus Christ could humanity come to the knowledge of the truth; and (4) that friendship founded on the love of God is a powerful instrument of God's grace.
Throughout his thirty five years as bishop of Hippo, he never failed to preach his great loves - those of God, Christ, the Church and his fellow human beings. He died in 430 CE, and his body is venerated today in the Augustinian Basilica at San Pietro in Ciel D'Oro, Pavia, Italy.