How do we believe? by Augustine of Hippo

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“In fact, we do not know what the face of the Virgin Mary looked like, she who was unstained and untouched, even in giving birth, or by any contact with man, she from whom he was born in a wonderful way. Nor do we know the appearance of Lazarus’ body, nor that of Bethany, nor the tomb, nor the stone that the Lord commanded them to roll away when he raised Lazarus, nor the new tomb, hewn but of rock, whence he rose, nor the Mount of Olives whence he ascended into heaven. We, who have never seen these things, do not know at all whether they really are as we imagine them; yet we consider it more probable that they are not as we imagine them.

For if the appearance of a face or a place or a man or any body whatever be presented to our eyes just as it appeared in our mind when we imagined it before having seen it, we are more than a little surprised, so rarely, if ever, does this happen. Nevertheless, we believe these things firmly, because we present them to ourselves according to a specific or general idea that seems sure to us.”

Augustine of Hippo, De Trinitate 8, 5, 7; PL 42, 952; CCL so, 276-77

If you are interested in more quotes on Virgin Mary, you can find them in Mary and the Fathers of the Church on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback formats.


Gambero, L., 1999. Mary and the Fathers of the Church 1st ed. Translated by Buffer, T., San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

2 Comments on “How do we believe? by Augustine of Hippo”

  1. True – we know so little of the Mysteries and yet we have believed! How great is our God for granting us the grace of faith. Praise Him forever and ever. Amen

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