St. Augustine's "First Vision" Account

And being admonished by these books to return into myself, I entered into my inward soul, guided by thee… And I entered, and with the eye of my soul—such as it was—saw above the same eye of my soul and above my mind the Immutable Light.

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St. Augustine. (Painting by Justus van Gent, circa 1474)

St. Augustine, or Augustine of Hippo, was an early Christian theologian and philosopher, a Church Father, who was very influential in the development of Western Christian theology. This is from one of his most famous works, Confessions:

And being admonished by these books to return into myself, I entered into my inward soul, guided by thee… And I entered, and with the eye of my soul—such as it was—saw above the same eye of my soul and above my mind the Immutable Light. It was not the common light, which all flesh can see; nor was it simply a greater one of the same sort, as if the light of day were to grow brighter and brighter, and flood all space. It was not like that light, but different, yea, very different from all earthly light whatever. Nor was it above my mind in the same way as oil is above water, or heaven above earth, but it was higher, because it made me, and I was below it, because I was made by it. He who knows the Truth knows that Light, and he who knows it knows eternity. Love knows it, O Eternal Truth and True Love and Beloved Eternity!

Source: Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions of Saint Augustine, trans. Albert Outler (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1955), 191.
Some similarities to Joseph Smith’s First Vision seem to include:

  • Praying/meditating
  • Seeing a singular Light
  • The light was of a different quality than ordinary light, different properties
  • The light seems to grow brighter and brighter
  • The light seems to envelope in all directions, filling all space
  • It is a heavenly light (not earthly)
  • Sensing a transcendent celestial creator power in the light
  • The light is associated with Truth, objective knowing of absolutes
  • Encountering tremendous Love, sensing that love
  • The mention of “Beloved”

If you would like to submit a “First Vision” account, either personal or found, for inclusion on this website, please click here.


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