During the last week of August, several commemorative events took place in the city of Pavia in honour of St Augustine. 1300 years after the transfer of the body of our Father to the Lombard city, initiated by King Liutprand, the faithful gathered once more to venerate the relics of the bishop of Hippo.
The solemn celebrations began on Thursday 24th with the recitation of Vespers and the opening Mass, presided over by the Bishop of Reggio Emilia-Guastalla, Monsignor Massimo Camisasca, at the end of which the urn containing the remains of the saint was exposed. On the 25th, 26th and 27th of August, the triduum of preparation for the Solemnity of St Augustine took place, with rosary, vespers and Mass.
In addition, the feast of St Monica was also celebrated, and two friars belonging to the Province of St John of Sahagún made their first profession of vows under the guidance of the provincial, Fr Domingo Amigo. "The Basilica of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro was the perfect setting for such a joyous and momentous day for us all."
Cinco profesos italianos en el día grande de San Agustín
Five Italians renew their vows on the great day of St Augustine
On 28th August, the Solemnity of St Augustine itself, the bishop of Pavia celebrated the 9:00am Mass in the Augustinian basilica. Later, at the 11:00am Mass, the Prior Provincial of Italy received the renewed vows of five Italian professed friars. "We were able to yet again experience how beautiful and joyful it is to live together as brothers, and how the Augustinian charism of one heart and one soul truly makes us live in peace and joy even in today's world."
That afternoon, the Solemn Pontifical was concelebrated, presided over by Cardinal Oscar Cantoni, Bishop of Como, and with all the bishops of the region of Lombardy present, including Monsignor Delpini, Metropolitan Archbishop of Milan, and Monsignor Sanguineti, the host bishop.
Also concelebrating the Mass were the Assistant General for Southern Europe, Fr Javier Pérez Barba, who welcomed the concelebrants and the assembly on behalf of the Prior General, and the Prior Provincial of the Province of Italy, Fr Giustino Casciano. At the end of the Holy Eucharist, the relics of our Father were venerated, followed by a fraternal supper in the cloister of the convent.
All the events were well attended by Augustinian friars, and included - in addition to the brothers of the community of Pavia itself - the professed and the master of professed of the Province of Italy, the newly professed, the Provincial and several councillors of the Province of San Juan de Sahagún, plus other Italian Augustinian religious from nearby communities.
Pondering the success of the celebrations, Fr Giustino leaves us the following lines: "The Basilica of Pavia was filled with songs, prayers and the many faithful who wanted to pay homage with prayer, with listening to the Word of God, to the great bishop and Doctor of the Church, the Holy Father Augustine, whom we Augustinians rightly and accurately venerate as our founding father. We declare our abiding love for his monastic rule, the rule of the awakened servant, which calls on us to live in humility and service, keeping the good of the community at its heart, and overcoming our selfishness through our commitment to the common good. These have been beautiful days of celebration and this centenary of St Augustine in Pavia has been full of initiatives. May our Holy Father Augustine help the Prior General of the Order and the whole great Augustinian family to continue our mission in the Church and in the world of today with courage and hope."
The closing ceremonies of this important centenary will take place over the 12th and 13th of November.