By Kaitlynn Riely
Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) — St. Augustine of Hippo just got a whole lot hipper.
The fifth-century doctor of the church, perhaps known best for “Confessions,” an autobiographical account of his conversion to Christianity, now has a MySpace page.
Michael Dolan, the director of communications for the Augustinians of the Province of St. Thomas of Villanova, said he started the page on St. Augustine’s behalf as an engaging way to introduce visitors to St. Augustine and the Augustinians.
“The focus of the page is to give people a deeper sense of who Augustine was, but also to get them engaged in Augustinian spirituality,” Dolan told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview.
The popular social networking Web site myspace.com allows users to post pictures and information about themselves on their personal pages. All users — and now St. Augustine — can add other users to their list of friends.
St. Augustine’s Myspace profile can be viewed at http://www.myspace.com/saintaugustineofhippo.
As of the afternoon of June 12, St. Augustine had 87 MySpace friends, including two named Pope Benedict XVI; two fellow saints, Sts. George and Brigid; some guy named Josh; and Canadian singer Celine Dion.
Since the site launched in early May, Dolan said the page has had about 500 hits. Most of St. Augustine’s friends requested his friendship. Users can either request friendship from a user or accept a friendship. Dolan said he doesn’t know the true identity of the saint’s online friends and guessed they just happened upon the page or heard about it from another venue.
St. Augustine’s page features a picture of the saint and a welcoming message to visitors of the site. If the volume is turned up on the computer, St. Augustine’s page will play The Who’s hit “Who are You.” St. Augustine is, according to his page, 42 years old, single, a Scorpio and looking for networking and friends. His interests include praying, writing and hanging out with friends.
St. Augustine is 42, Dolan said, because that was his age when he wrote “Confessions.” Starting Aug. 28 — the saint’s feast day — St. Augustine will begin a Web log, or blog, about his “Confessions” on the site. The small print at the bottom of the area where the blog will be promises that entries will be an English translation, even though St. Augustine wrote in Latin. His entire book should be blogged over the course of the next school year.
Dolan hopes visitors to the site will include students and professors. He suggested they could post comments to the blog as part of classroom exercises.
To the best of his knowledge, Dolan said, none of the Augustinians he knows have MySpace pages. But the order seems to have embraced St. Augustine’s page, he said.
“People are enthusiastic and love the concept of it,” Dolan said.
Has St. Augustine rejected any friend requests?
A few, Dolan admitted, because the users appeared either inappropriate or fraudulent. But Dolan said the occasional strange friend request seems normal for MySpace.
As for St. Augustine’s future on MySpace, Dolan said he has no concrete plans about adding features beside “Confessions.” But he said more photos, links and videos will probably be added to provide additional information about Augustine and the Augustinians to MySpace surfers.