St. Augustine on the Walls  -- Scenes of his life from the frescoes of San Gimignano

In his Confessions, St. Augustine (354-430) writes that "our hearts are restless until they rest in you, Oh Lord" (1.1.1)  He uses the story of his own life and his own restless search for meaning as a way to unfold his philosophical and theological ideas.  This website gives a brief narrative of St. Augustine’s life, illustrated by scenes of some of the events he describes in Confessions.   All of the images were painted by Benozzo Gozzoli (1420-1497), a well-known Renaissance artist (one of his pictures in the Philadelphia art museum).  Gozzoli lived 1000 years after Augustine, so his vision is based on his own reading of Confessions. The pictures are frescoes (painted directly on the walls) in the Church of St. Augustine, in San Gimignano, one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. It is often called the "city of towers;"  wealthy families apparently engaged in a medieval status race,  to see who could build the highest tower.  Originally there were 72 towers, today only 15 are left. The church is very much alive today, and the Augustinian monks there offer regular services in Italian and English. 

        Begin your tour of the frescoes     Visit the stained glass windows at Villanova.

Go to specific scenes:

School College Mother of Tears Rome The Teacher To Milan Arrival in Milan
St. Ambrose Conversion Baptism Seashell Death of Monica Funeral Home Page

Images are taken from: The Web Gallery of Art.  Quotations from St. Augustine's Confessions, translated by Maria Boulding, O.S.B., (Hyde Park, New York: New City Press) 1997. In a few cases, we have substituted more familiar translations for Boulding's words. Author: John Immerwahr, Villanova University.  Update: May 24, 2008.  This website draws heavily on information provided by  Rev. Brian Lowrey, O.S.A., one of the Augustinian fathers of San Gimignano.