A native of France, Nicolas Jenson was one of the most important printers operating in Venice in the fifteenth century. Between c.1470 and 1480, Jenson produced around 150 books including the 1475 printing of St. Augustine's "De Civitate Dei" or "The City of God." The quality of Jenson's books influenced greatly the revival of fine printing in Britain in the nineteenth century. The great British typographer Stanley Morison (1889-1967) once said that Jenson produced "the perfect book of the period." This digital copy from the John M. Kelly Library at St. Michael's College in the University of Toronto is the oldest volume in the Kelly library's collection.
The City of God (Latin: De Civitate Dei, also known as De Civitate Dei contra Paganos, "The City of God against the Pagans") is a book written in Latin by Augustine of Hippo in the early 5th century, dealing with issues concerning God, martyrdom, Jews, and other Christian philosophies.
Augustine wrote the treatise to explain Christianity's relationship with competing religions and philosophies, and to the Roman government with which it was increasingly intertwined. It was written soon after Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410. This event left Romans in a deep state of shock, and many saw it as punishment for abandoning their Roman religion. It was in this atmosphere that Augustine set out to provide a consolation of Christianity, writing that, even if the earthly rule of the empire was imperilled, it was the City of God that would ultimately triumph — symbolically, Augustine's eyes were fixed on heaven, a theme repeated in many Christian works of Late Antiquity.