The Augustinian Cross is a cross adorned with features to remind us of the gifts we have received from St. Augustine. The cross might be any shape or form, but on this page we are using a Latin Cross, as St. Augustine is known as the 'Father of the Latin Church'.
St. Augustine, whose Westernised name is abbreviated as St. Austin, is also known as the 'Doctor of Grace' or the 'Doctor of Love'. The title 'Doctor' is given to those recognized as having been of particular importance, especially in theology or doctrine.
He framed the Christian concept of a 'Just War'; a notion that bellicose regimes have since reframed to suit their political or economic goals. Relativists might claim that what constituted justice 1,600 years ago does not apply to today's culture.
They might cite Augustine as a teacher, who believed corporal punishment was an appropriate learning aid. Or they might cite that he maintained that the soul enters the body when the foetus is 40 days old in the case of a boy, and 90 days in the case of a girl. Not many people today have a better idea of when the soul enters the body, but we now recognise, with the advantage biological knowledge that was not available in the 5th century1, that the sex of the foetus should make be no difference in the timing of ensoulment.
Is Augustinian thought out of date with today's reality?
If so, why do whole scholastic careers continue to be devoted to studying great philosophers such as Augustine?
It is because he left a legacy of timeless wisdom. And these are symbolised on the Augustinian Cross.
- Heart: The heart is a metaphor for all that is deepest and truest in one's self. (See Heart and the Cross)
- Arrow: In The Confessions of St. Augustine (9.2) he writes: "You have pierced our hearts with the arrow of your love, and our minds were pierced with the arrows of your words." His conversion was as though God had jolted his spiritual heart, just as a paramedic might use a defibrillator to restore the normal rhythm of the physical heart. (See the Arrow Cross)
- Flame: He goes on to describe (13.9) "Your gift sets us afire and we are borne upward; we catch this flame and up we go. In our hearts we climb those upward paths, singing the songs of ascent. By your fire, your beneficent fire, we are inflamed." The symbol shows a heart bursting into flame with love for God. (See the Flaming Cross)
- Book: The pierced, flaming heart overlays a book (one of those things people used before computers were invented). This book might be construed to be the Hebrew Bible and his commentary on Genesis, the Psalms, the New Testament and his hypothesis on the origin of the Gospels, or any of his numerous works. (See the Evangelists' Cross)
Augustine greatly valued spiritual relationships with other people and this brotherly love was the basis of his writings. Augustine defended the doctrine of original sin, in contrast to that radical Welshman, Pelagius, and his ilk. This was the whole point of Jesus coming to earth and for His sacrifice. (See Meaning of the Cross)
The nature of both philosophy and religion is in exploring, experiencing and learning, which have led to the development of the education system we have today.
Many modern schools and universities are based on secular, scientific and/or business goals. But even these institutions also depend on fundamental philosophical and religious thought. It is no surprise, therefore, that some of the world's best educational establishments have strong connections to the Christian church or some other religion. Many of these schools and colleges are named 'St. Augustine' and incorporate Augustinian Cross elements in their logo.