On June 28, the Orthodox Church celebrates the memory of St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430). Augustine is one of the twelve Fathers of the Church, on whose theology, according to the Fifth Ecumenical Council, the Church doctrine is based.
After himself, Augustine left a huge written legacy. His works have survived. Augustine wrote more than all the contemporary Greek Church Fathers put together. According to a disciple and author of the life of Augustine, Possidius of Calama (+437), a human life is not enough to read what he wrote. Thus, the modern edition of Augustine with comments in French has 100 volumes. Augustine is not fully translated into Russian. Like his great predecessors, the heroes of the faith of the Carthaginian Church, Tertullian (160-220) and the martyr Cyprian (200-258), Augustine wrote in Latin.
Augustine left a huge written legacy. It has been preserved and is larger in volume than that written by all the contemporary Greek Fathers combined. Thus, the modern edition of Augustine with comments in French has 100 volumes. Augustine is not fully translated into Russian. Augustine wrote in Latin.
Tradition calls him "Father of the Christian West." By the name of the city of Hippo, the modern Algerian port of Annaba, where the saint was a bishop for about 35 years, he is most often called "Augustine of Hippo." In the memory of the Universal Church, Augustine is the "Doctor of Grace".
In Russian theological tradition, the saint is called Blessed Augustine. Greek Orthodoxy calls him “saint” or “sacred." The modern Orthodox troparion in English calls the saint “Augustine the Great".
Such a name for the saint “blessed” is a trace of deep archaism. In the era of the first Ecumenical Councils, the word “blessed” was used by saints, fathers, and teachers of the Church to refer to each other in communion and mutual correspondence. In fact, blessed meant “holy” and “beloved”, “friend of God” and “righteous”, one who visually reflects the beatitudes in the Gospel.
Saint Augustine was unknown in Orthodox Byzantium. The first translations of his individual works into Greek appeared around the 13th century. Therefore, very few people remembered him and knew him only by name. The title "blessed" is an undoubted trace of such ignorance of the saint in Orthodox Greek history. The consequence of ignorance, or, better, oblivion of Augustine in Byzantium was not only a misunderstanding of the specifics of ancient Latin theology, but also the absence of the name of the saint in Byzantine church calendars.
Like a considerable number of great saints of the Christian west, including Augustine of Canterbury (+604), who was named after the Father of the Church, the enlightener of England, as well as the great translator of the Bible, Jerome (348-420), and the martyr Mauritius (+287), the name of the Father of the Church was absent in Orthodox calendars until relatively recently.
Through the efforts of St. Nicodemus, the Hagiorite (1749–1809), this gap was filled. Nicodemus entered the name of Augustine into the liturgical calendar along with Jerome (347-420). The service to the saint was written by Saint John of Shanghai (1896–1966).
The reason why Nicodemus chose June 15 (28) as the date is not clear. It is possible that some kind of local Athos celebration, served as an occasion. It is noteworthy that in this way the date of Augustine's commemoration according to the Julian calendar, June 15, falls on the middle of the first summer month, and on the seventh day after the celebration in honor of another great Father of the Church, Cyril of Alexandria (375-444).
Both Augustine and Cyril were real Africans. Like two lungs of the unified theological breath of the Church, one in the East, the other in the West, respectively, the saints, by their labors and teachings, remain for all time the blessing of the Continent that has forgotten about them. It is surprising that recently scientists managed to establish that there was correspondence between the saints, letters written by Augustine to Cyril were found. Without theology, the Church cannot breathe.
Like Cyril, Augustine was destined to become not only the Father of the Church, but the Father of the Churches.
The Coptic, Ethiopian and other Eastern Churches, which did not recognize the IV Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon (451) and from the middle of the VI century, found themselves outside the Eucharistic communion of the Orthodox Churches, revere Cyril as their great teacher.
In turn, the legacy of Augustine equally disputes Catholicism and Protestantism that came out of the Roman Church as a result of the split of the Reformation. "Only Scripture, only Faith, only Grace" - to this classic triad of the Modern Time, the protestant Reformation added "Only Augustine." Catholic counter-reformation theology referred to Augustine as "the matrix of all conclusions."
“The rule of faith, a model of meekness and a teacher of temperance,” says the general troparion to the saint bishops. Augustine was not only a great dogmatist and teacher of morality, but also a seer of God, the author of doxologies filled with truly biblical power. One of them says: “God, may your blessing and closeness be with those who do not sleep and who cry this night. Give rest to your weary and protect your sick. Comfort your suffering and bless your dying. Have mercy on your troubled ones and be with your rejoicing ones. Bless each according to his need."
It is surprising that oblivion in relation to St Augustine in the past centuries has become a type of how, over time, all Christianity was oblivious. Paradoxically, a causal sequence emerged here. Humanity, like every single person, in our postmodern days has become lonelier than ever before in history.
In our last times of universal oblivion, Augustine is the patron of all the forgotten, the intercessor of those for whom there is no one to pray and whom there is no one to remember. The forgotten saint of the forgotten God intercedes for the world.