Augustine, one of the most prolific and the most famous of the church fathers, was born to a Christian mother (Monica) and pagan father (Patricias) in the small town of Tagaste (Souk Arras in modern Algeria) in 354. His devout mother provided a home where he was nurtured in the Lord, and Augustine had marked spiritual sensitivity, but he was dissatisfied by the simple country preachers near his home. Desiring to give him every advantage, Patricias and Monica sent Augustine to study in Madaura and Carthage (370-375). He read Cicero’s Hortensius and was captivated by the intellect and language therein, moving away from his Christian background and towards philosophy. Given to sexual temptation, Augustine took a concubine, who bore him Adeodatus. Augustine went through a phase when he embraced Manichaeanism, a belief of rational dualism, but grew disenchanted when his concerns could not be answered. Augustine migrated to magic and astrology, and then moved with his mother to Rome at the age of 28 (382).
Having teaching experience in Carthage, Augustine was made professor of rhetoric in Rome (384). He had largely broken with Manichaeanism and one day went to a speech by Bishop Ambrose in Milan, a famous Christian, intellectual and orator. Ambrose presented a much more intellectual and, to Augustine, a much more satisfying explanation of Christianity and Augustine was interested. Simplicianus, a presbyter at Ambrose’ church, met Augustine and decided to try to lead him to the Lord.The story of how the famous pagan orator Victorinus became a Christian was also a great encouragement to Augustine. In Confessions, Augustine later wrote that he “burned to imitate him (Victorinus).”