After more than four years of planning and coordination with officials in Italy and at the Vatican, the Diocese of St. Augustine has acquired a first-class relic of our patron saint, Augustine of Hippo. It is on loan to the diocese for the 450th Anniversary celebration of the City of St. Augustine and the founding of America’s first Catholic Parish.
The official ceremony welcoming the relic of Saint Augustine is Solemn Vespers on Tuesday, July 7, at 7 p.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine, 38 Cathedral Place in St. Augustine. Father Thomas Willis, rector of the Cathedral Basilica will preside with the first opportunity for veneration of the relic immediately following.
“What a wonderful gift this is to have a major relic come to the city, parish and Cathedral that bears the name of one of history’s most notable and intellectual people,” said Father Willis. “Augustine of Hippo is known among Christians as the ‘sinner turned saint.’ His story of conversion to God is so relevant to our contemporary era,” he said.
The relic actually arrived to the Catholic Center (the diocesan headquarters in Jacksonville) last Thursday, June 25, where Bishop Felipe J. Estévez carefully removed it from its crate. The relic itself is a finger of Saint Augustine, which dates back to 430 A.D., and is encased in a reliquary (a container for holy relics) in the form of a crucifix made of silver and adorned with precious stones. The reliquary itself dates back to 1904 with the name of Pope Pius X inscribed on it. The relic of Saint Augustine is part of the Vatican Treasury and this is the first time the relic has ever left Italy.
“To have this significant relic on loan to the diocese and the Cathedral Basilica during our Jubilee Year, celebrating the 450th Anniversary of the founding of America’s First Parish, is, indeed, a blessing,” said Father Willis. “I hope that many people will come and make a pilgrimage to the Cathedral, ask our patron for his intercession and be renewed in the beauty of the Catholic faith that Augustine taught so well.”
The following is a schedule of when the relic will be available for veneration and viewing by the public:
Tuesday, July 7 – Welcome ceremony. Solemn Vespers at 7 p.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine. Father Thomas Willis will preside. The public is invited to attend.
July 20-22 – Augustinian Mission. Join the Cathedral Parish community for a Mission on the life and teachings of Saint Augustine of Hippo. Augustinian Father Art Purcaro will lead a Mission Service in the Cathedral each morning, July 20 to 22; at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Opportunities will be available for prayer, confession and veneration of the relic.
Friday, August 28 – August 28 is the patronal feast of Saint Augustine of Hippo. Vespers will be celebrated at 6 p.m. in the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine with Bishop Felipe J. Estévez as the presider and homilist. Dr. Michael Francis will deliver the 16th Annual Augustinian Address at 7 p.m. in the Bishop Baker Parish Center, 257 St. George Street, St. Augustine.
Saturday, August 29 – Young Adult Night! All adults (ages 21-35) are invited to a special evening designed just for them beginning with Mass at 5 p.m. Fathers Lawrence Peck and Richard Pagano will lead those present in praise and worship of the Lord, tell the amazing story of Augustine – the sinner turned saint – along with time for veneration of the relic. Confession will also be available. For more information on this event, contact Mike Sylvester at (904) 262-3200, ext. 189 or email email@example.com.
Wednesdays with Saint Augustine
During the time the relic will be in the Diocese of St. Augustine, each Wednesday at 7 p.m. (see schedule below) there will be time for veneration of the relic, a teaching about Saint Augustine of Hippo, and intercessory prayer.
July 15 and 29
August 5, 12, 19 and 26
September 2, 9, 16 and 23
Parish or Group Pilgrimages
Would your parish or groups like to arrange a pilgrimage to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine during the time the relic is in our diocese? Contact the Cathedral Parish Office at (904) 824-2806 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please request your arrangements no less than three weeks in advance of the date desired.