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Augustine of Hippo (Saint Augustine)

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The Triumph of Saint Augustine by Claudio Coello, c. 1664.jpg

Augustine of Hippo (13 November 354 – 28 August 430), also known as Saint Augustine, was a theologian and the founder of western Christian theology, now considered a saint.

Augustine was sexlessly engaged to be married to a ten-year-old female who was “pleasing unto him”, until he elected to lead an ascetic lifestyle for religious reasons. Augustine writes in his Confessions, Book VI, Chapter XIII: “Yet the affair was pressed on, and a maiden sued who wanted two years of the marriageable age; and, as she was pleasing, she was waited for.”[1]. Since the Roman age of marriage was 12, this passage indicates that she was ten years old.

Historian Vern Bullough (1990) wrote[2]:

Unable to forego sexual activity, Augustine decided to avoid trying to be an Adept and to regularize his life by marrying. Once this decision was made, he sent his mistress and illegitimate son away and then set out to choose a bride. He selected a young prepubertal girl, and since technically he could not marry her until she came of age (i.e., had her menarche), he was betrothed to her. Unable to give up sex even for this brief period, he took another mistress, and this act, among other things, brought on a personal crisis that led him to convert to Christianity and swear off sex for the rest of his life (Augustine, 1955, IV, ii, VI, xii, vn, i). There is nothing to indicate that marriages to such prepubertal girls were unusual, although custom and law dictated they not be consummated until puberty. Obviously, Augustine was more than twice the age of his bride-to-be (Bullough and Brundage, 1983).

References

  1. Pilkington J.G., translator (1876). The Confessions of St. Augustine. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark. p. 134.
  2. Bullough V.L. (1990). “History in adult human sexual behavior with children and adolescents in Western societies”, in Pedophilia: Biosocial Dimensions (Jay R. Feierman, ed.). New York: Springer-Verlag Publishers, pp. 70-71.