On this day in 430, St Augustine died in his adopted hometown of Hippo Regius. He had led a fascinating life, experiencing as a child the brief reign of Julian the Apostate, the last pagan Roman emperor, and lived to a time when Christianity was firmly established – the Vandals besieging his home when he died for instance were Christians, even if they were Arian heretics.
To this day he is still a controversial figure, as I found out when several people responded with the benign bishop of Hippo’s name when asked who the worst saint in history was. This was surprising, since I can think of a few saints who allegedly ordered massacres, betrayed their friends or were just plain unlikeable (looking you St Wilfrid you grumpy git!), whilst Augustine was by any definition a moral man even before he was a Christian.
Still, I can see why some people would reach that conclusion. Looking back, I realised that I first encountered Augustine many years ago in the Cartoon History of the Universe (it’s just as awesome as the name suggests!), and the impression I got was not a positive one: