Welcome to St. Augustine’s Confessions with Robert Royal
Thank you for enrolling in this course on St. Augustine’s Confessions.
St. Thomas Aquinas is widely recognized as perhaps the greatest pure thinker in all Christian history. But there’s another current of Christian thought – not as abstractly intellectual but powerful and influential all the same – whose most prominent representative is St. Augustine of Hippo. His Confessions is an intensely personal and emotional account of how he grew up in North Africa; then because of his sheer brilliance and eloquence quickly passed through prestigious schools in Carthage and Rome; and finally arrived in the circle of the great Archbishop of Milan, St. Ambrose, where he was converted to Catholicism. It’s a story – some think it the first ever autobiography – of sin and struggle, error and truth, restlessness and ultimately peace. As Augustine says, speaking to God, on the very first page of Confessions, “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”
In this course, we will focus primarily on Confessions, but we’ll also take some brief excursions into his other works, including his massive and massively important City of God. There are many editions of Confessions easily available, some free online. But we will be using (and recommend) the translation by the great Frank Sheed, with notes by a sometime contributor to The Catholic Thing Michael P. Foley, and an introduction by one of the great historians of early Christianity Peter Brown.