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About a century later, the matter became embroiled in national and ecclesiastical politics. Northern Italy became a battleground between the Guelph and Ghibelline factions of Italian secular politics.

The Augustinian Canons Regular of St Augustine inclined towards the Ghibellines, whereas the pope of the time, Pope John XXII in Avignon, was supported by the Guelphs.

Image (below):
The Arca in the Sanctuary of the Church of St Peter in Ceil d’Oro at Pavia. The arca is a very fine work made by a group of Lombard sculptors in the second half of the 14th century. For pictures elsewhere on this website of the sanctuary containing the arca, click here and here. The insert (at the top right of the main photo) is a portrait of Cardinal Agostino Riboldi (formerly the Archbishop of Pavia), who in 1900 pressed strenuously for the return on Augustine's tomb from Pavia's cathedral to its Augustinian Church of Saint Peter.

St Augustine : His tomb - 03

The Order of Saint Augustine was pro-papal, and John XXII in 1327 decreed that the Order of St Augustine could share with the Augustinian Canons the custody of the tomb of Augustine. This arrangement began on 5th June 1331.
The papal decree, however, lacked details as to how this arrangement was supposed to work. And it really did not work. After much contention and even physical violence, an unsatisfactory arrangement was brought into place.

The church was divided along an east/west line, by which one order had the entrance on the north side of the cathedral, and the other order the entrance on the south side.
The main altar which incorporated the monumental tomb of Augustine would be in the care of each order in alternate months. In the absence of any other solution, the unusual arrangement persisted. Eventually the Order of Saint Augustine was granted sole custody of both the church and the tomb.
In October 1695, these bones of Augustine, hidden in the wall of the church by Liutprand in the eighth century, were rediscovered by accident
On that day a team of artisans was preparing to install decorative brackets on the crypt altar in the Church of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro in Pavia.
Removing some paving stones in the floor, they came upon a marble box with charcoal lettering on the cover. Inside this box, they found another silver box decorated with Lombard crosses.
This held a cloth veil, some human bones (including part of a skull), and some glass vials.
Although the workmen, some of whom were functionally illiterate, later disagreed about such details as the form and placement of the writing and even whether there had been a third box, all were convinced that they were the relics of Augustine, the patron saint of Pavia.
The Canons Regular of Saint Augustine published an authentic account of that discovery.
A controversy then arose between the Augustinian hermits (Order of Saint Augustine) and the regular canons (Canons Regular of Saint Augustine), as to whether these bones were really those of Augustine of Hippo, the former denying it but the latter affirming it.
Pope Benedict XIII (1724-1730) directed the Bishop of Pavia, Monsignor Pertusati, to make a strict examination.
The prelate declared that, in his opinion, the bones were certainly those of Saint Augustine.
In a document on the 22nd of September 1728, Pope Benedict then approved the decision of the bishop, and ordered that the matter never be raised again.

(Continued on the next page.)

Full-screen 360-degree view of the church facade.  


Photo Galleries
For a choice of three Augnet photo galleries on Pavia, click here.

Pope Benedict XVI at Pavia.
For Augnet pages on the papal visit to Pavia on 22nd April 2007, click here.



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