Alypius of Thagaste
|Saint Alypius of Thagaste|
"The Conversion of St. Augustine" (Gozzoli)
The figure at right is probably Alypius.
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Canonized||1584 by Pope Gregory XIII|
Saint Alypius of Thagaste was bishop of the see of Tagaste (in what is now Algeria) in 394. He is also credited with building the first monastery in Africa. He was a lifelong friend of Saint Augustine of Hippo and joined him in his conversion (in 386; Confessions 8.12.28) and life in Christianity. Most of what is known about him comes from Augustine's autobiographical Confessions.
He came from an aristocratic family of Thagaste, a small town in the Roman province of Africa Proconsularis. He was a student of Augustine's in Carthage. As Alypius’ friendship with Augustine began to deepen, so did his interest in Manicheism. Alypius admired the Manichees’ strict decrees on chastity, and believed that marriage would interfere with the search for wisdom with his friends.
He also studied law, and during his early life went to Rome, where he served as a magistrate. One commonly cited event, from the Confessions (6.8.13) concerns the young Alypius, who had extremely strong moral beliefs, being taken by friends to watch violent Roman games in the arena. He initially resists this, keeping his eyes shut, but he is unable to control himself because of the sounds and eventually succumbs and opens his eyes. To his horror, he finds himself enjoying the spectacle and even invites other friends to come with him later. However, he eventually repents of this and returns to the spiritual fold.
In 384 he joined Augustine in Milan, where he was exposed to the preaching of St. Ambrose. Alypius was present in the garden of Milan at Augustine’s conversion. He and Augustine were baptized by Ambrose at the Easter vigil in April 387.
After being baptized, he and Augustine returned to Thagaste, where he helped Augustine establish the first monastery in North Africa. When Augustine was made priest of Hippo, Alypius moved there and became a member of the monastic community Augustine founded there. In 394 Alypius became bishop of Thagaste after his return from the Holy Land, where he had seen St. Jerome. The following year, he wrote Paulinus of Nola, requesting a copy of Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History. Paulinus, who was interested in what Alypius believed and taught, requested some particulars of his life. Alypius asked Augustine to write in response. According to John C. Kelly, this was the impetus behind Augustine's later Confessions. Alypius died around 430.
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- Kelly S.J., John C., "The Conversion of St. Augustine", Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, Vol. 44, No. 174, Spring 1955
- Pétridès, Sophrone. "Thagaste." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 20 Jan. 2014
- Rotelle O.S.A., John. Book of Augustinian Saints (Augustinian Press, Villanova University, 2000)