From the 11th-14th November, another chapter commemorating the transfer of the remains of St Augustine to the Lombard city of Pavia took place. It has been 1,300 years since Liutprand, king of the Longobards, succeeded in bringing the funeral urn of the saint of Hippo to the city
It was an opportunity for a few days of celebration - including marking the birthday St Augustine in 354 - in the presence of Prior General of the Order, Fr Alejandro Moral, and part of his General Council; the Abbot General of the Canons Regular, Fr Franco Bergamin; the Prior General of the Discalced Augustinians, Fr Nei Márcio Simon, and the Vicar General of the Augustinian Recollects, representing Prior General Fr Miguel Ángel Hernández.
Events kicked off on the Saturday afternoon with sung vespers and Holy Mass, presided by Fr Franco, Prior General of the Lateran Canons Regular, who, in the words of Fr Alejandro “shared a beautiful homily with all those present.” That same evening, in the Basilica of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro, there was an opportunity to listen to a beautiful recital entitled "The Steps of God", in which the city’s choir interpreted some texts and prayers of St Augustine. According to the Prior General, "It was a delightful occasion; we were blessed to enjoy this concert, planned over many months, with the musical pieces serving as commentary to the texts of our Father that inspired them, and which were previously just spoken."
Presence of the major superiors of Europe
Centenary celebrations have been taking place across the whole year, but it was the feast of All Saints of the Order that was chosen to introduce an international dimension. At the invitation of the Prior Provincial of Italy, the Provincials of the Netherlands (Fr Pierre Stikkelbroeck), of Belgium (Fr Martin Davakan), of Poland (Fr Beniamin Kuczala), and of Malta (Fr Leslie Gatt), travelled to Pavia, and were joined in addition by the Vicar Provincial of St John of Sahagún (Fr Tomás Marcos), and Fr John O’Sullivan, representing Ireland.
The Pavia community were the perfect hosts, and in addition to the main events, offered their guests a guided tour of the main monuments of the city of Pavia, as well as the chance to enjoy a "very enlightening and well-done" audiovisual exhibition on St Augustine at the Visconteo Castle.
Celebration of All Saints of the Order in a unique setting
On Sunday afternoon, Father General presided at a Solemn Mass concelebrated by the rest of the Superiors General of the Augustinian Family, the Superiors of Europe of the Order of Saint Augustine, members of the General Curia, the community of Pavia and other religious who came for the occasion. At the end of the Eucharist, the decree of affiliation to the Order was read and then presented to the Savinis, a local couple who are part of the Pavia committee and who were heavily involved in the organisation and delivery of all the activities that have been taking place to mark this anniversary.
On Monday, Monsignor Giovanni Scanavino OSA officiated at the Solemn Mass of All Saints of the Order in the Basilica. After dinner, the Vexilla Regis concert was performed by the Ghislieri Gregorian School.
The culmination of these celebrations, coinciding with the birthday of St Augustine, was the International Congress of St Augustine of Hippo, honoured in Pavia for thirteen centuries. The Congress included relics, cultural and spiritual heritage and current events, and took place in a range of sites including the Basilica of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro, the University of Pavia, the Catholic University of Sacro Cuore in Milan, and the Basilica of St Ambrose. Scholars from different academic centres across Italy were able to make their own contribution from different disciplines and approaches to the meaning that the immense figure of St Augustine still has for Pavia.