Above: Ruins of the Amphiteater at Carthage
Image in the Public Domain
SAINT ALIPIUS (CIRCA 360-429/430)
Roman Catholic Bishop of Tagaste and Friend of Saint Augustine of Hippo
Also known as Saint Alypius
His feast transferred from August 15
The Roman Catholic feast day for St. Alipius is August 15. I have, however, reserved that date on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days for St. Mary of Nazareth, Mother of God. Therefore I have transferred his commemoration to August 16.
St. Alipius had much in common with St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430). Both men were natives of Tagaste, Numidia, Roman Empire (now Souk Ahras, Algeria). St. Alipius came from a noble family. He studied grammar under St. Augustine at Tagaste then rhetoric under him at Carthage, sometimes to the great displeasure of his (St. Alipius’s) father. At Carthage St. Alipius became a fan of the bloody sports of chariot racing and gladiatorial fighting. Once he, under the influence of St. Augustine, who disapproved of such entertainment, ceased to attend those events briefly. Then he returned to them with zest. St. Alipius also became a Manichean and followed his teacher to Milan. There he also came under the influence of St. Ambrose of Milan (337-397), the bishop. St. Alipius, who found chastity easier to practice than his longtime teacher did, was among the people baptized with St. Augustine and Adeodatus (372-388) at the Easter Vigil in 387. St. Alipius abandoned bloody sports forever. The following year he joined St. Augustine’s monastic community at Tagaste. He and his famous friend became priests at Hippo Regius in 391. The friends worked together for a few years. St. Alipius made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and befriended St. Jerome (347-450). In 393, upon his return from the Holy Land, St. Alipius began his 30-year-long tenure as the Bishop of Tagaste before St. Augustine became the Bishop of Hippo Regius. The two bishops cooperated in efforts to refute Manicheism, Donatism, and Pelagianism. The two men also died at about the same time.
It would be easy to forget or ignore St. Alipius. After all, he seemed to dwell in the shadow of St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the most influential theologians in Western Christianity. I am certain, however, that many members of St. Alipius’s flock, the Diocese of Tagaste, testified in their time with regard to his abilities as a bishop. He was no mere second banana.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
MAY 12, 2016 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF DUNCAN MONTGOMERY GRAY, SR., EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MISSISSIPPI
THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN FRIEDRICH HASSE, GERMAN-BRITISH COMPOSER AND EDUCATOR
THE FEAST OF SAINTS GREGORY OF OSTIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT, CARDINAL, AND LEGATE; AND DOMINIC OF THE CAUSEWAY, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT
Almighty God, you have raised up bishops of your church, including your servant St. Alipius.
May the memory of his life be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith,
so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Ezekiel 3411-16 or Acts 20:17-35
1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21
John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47
–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60