Hippin to the hoppin: An exclusive CNS ‘interview’ with @hiphopAugustine


St. Augustine depicted at Crosier House in Phoenix. (CNS photo/Crosiers)

VATICAN CITY — The St. Augustine we all know was a fifth century theologian hangin’ in Hippo,

famous for his writin, playin’ hard, then makin it right agin.

Today there’s a new dogg in the ‘hood, mixin God’s wisdom with beats so good.

It’s Augustine of Hiphop on Twitter, yo. Here’s a sample, so you’ll know:

But before you peeps flit over to da Twitter,

Grab a peek @ our big hitter — a CNS “interview” (a bit one-sided) with @hiphopAugustine, as he explains in refrain, who he is, where he’s been.


thanks fo the chance to do a interview

I hope ya don’t mind if I talk the way I always do

my hip hoppin days, they started one August

on the streets of Thagaste

when I says to myself — self, maybe life is more

than chasin another score,

doin dares, swipin pears, and who knows what for?

I oughta change my taste

I oughta try to be chaste

and let

my debt

be met

by grace . . . but not yet, not yet

it’s been a long journey since then

became a rhetorician

Momma kept prayin I’d become a Catholic Christian

so they was family tension

I guess I better mention

the Manichaean thugs, they attracted my attention

shoot, they was a manic flock

looked down on the common stock

said “if you aint talkin Mani I don’t wanna talk”

I stayed for a few years

Momma, she be sheddin tears

finally I ditched them and they spiritual careers

I be like Odysseus wit his turns and twists

started chillin wit a crew of Neoplatonists

they pointed me to wisdom

had a slammin system

but somethin still was missin

they talked about God but didn’t know how to listen

they God was all far away

I don’t mean to be dissin

but what else can I say?

it was like they got the goal but not the way

long story short, I kept pressin on

and a baller bishop by the name of Ambrose of Milan

paved my way to Christ

I became enticed

the way he told how God descended and was sacrificed

so I told my momma — boy was she surprised

and I got baptized

and the book of my life got mad revised

errbody conform

to some kind of norm

but you can only stay fresh

if you follow the Word-made-flesh

I try to spread the word

though I be soundin absurd

to the ears of the world — I gotta make it heard

so December 17, started tweetin up a storm

stayin true to form

I’m fiery for the kingdom cuz it’s wack to be lukewarm

peace out

— @hiphopAugustine

A sneak peek at the Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican’s Nativity scene will be unveiled tomorrow evening, but Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples and the artists who created the scene gave a sneak preview to journalists today.

Well, we were able to see most of it. The Baby Jesus has been tightly swaddled — from head to toe — with a white sheet.

The formal unveiling ceremony will be at 4:30 p.m. Christmas Eve. Until that time, the baby is under wraps and photos showing the whole scene are under embargo.

Before meeting reporters in St. Peter’s Square, Cardinal Sepe met with Pope Francis and introduced him to the artists who worked on this year’s Nativity scene. The cardinal, who told reporters he had to invite Pope Francis to visit Naples or the townspeople would have “martyred” him, said his favorite part of the scene is the poor mother who brings her son to see the Baby Jesus.

The mother and son, he said, are symbols for all the poor and simple people who find hope and salvation “in the Lord who is newly born.”

A detail of "The Beggar," a figure in the Nativity scene in St. Peter's Square. (CNS/Paul Haring)

A detail of “The Beggar,” a figure in the Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square. (CNS/Paul Haring)

The figures are the work of the imagination and hands of artist Antonio Cantone, who said the figure he has the most affection for is described only as “The Beggar.” Roughly dressed and dirty, he’s sitting at the feet of the Baby Jesus’ manger.

“It’s no accident that we have him sitting closest to the baby,” Cantone said. “It’s an image of how the poor are closest to God.”

“He has nothing,” Cantone said. “If you notice, we’ve put the Three Kings’ gifts further away. The beggar brings himself.”

Amedeo LaNave, the scenographer, said his responsibility was the part where they ignored Neapolitan Nativity tradition. The scene in St. Peter’s Square does not have the backdrop of a village in the 1800s, like most in the Naples’ tradition do. In fact, it doesn’t have a backdrop at all. While the characters are all facing southeast, the rough structure sheltering them has cutouts all around it so it can be seen from every angle. And if you’re standing to the east, its background will be St. Peter’s Basilica.

“We’re calling it ‘la piazza nel presepe,’” or the square in the Nativity scene.