PAVIA, Italy, AUG. 24, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The liturgical memorial of St. Augustine, Aug. 28, is celebrated with special solemnity in Pavia, Italy, in the Basilica of San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro, where the holy bishop of Hippo rests.
This year, Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, will concelebrate Mass on the feast day with the Prior General of the Order of St. Augustine, Father Robert F. Prevost, and the Prior Provincial of the Augustinian Province of Italy, Father Luciano De Michieli.
But today in Pavia, the feast already had a prologue, when at the end of a Eucharistic celebration presided over by the Bishop of Biella Gabriele Mana, the grate that protects the body of St. Augustine was opened. To open the grate requires the simultaneous use of four keys, one each guarded by the Bishop of Pavia, the Mayor of Pavia, the Prior of the Augustinian community of Pavia and the Chapter of the Cathedral of Pavia.
The custody of each key has a particular significance. The key entrusted to the Augustinian Prior is evidence of the secular presence of the Sons of St. Augustine, a presence which has benefited the cultural heritage and the heritage of human wisdom and spirituality of the Church.
The key entrusted to the Bishop is a recognition to the father figure of the holy bishop of Hippo, pastor, central element in the doctrine and in the evolution of Christian thought.
The fact that the Mayor of Pavia is the guardian of the third key is exhortation and warning to civil society: the “civitas hominis” is in constant contact with the “Civitas Dei”.
Finally the last guardian of a key is the Chapter of the cathedral: this is the recognition of the great importance that the canonical schools played in the preservation and transmission of culture in the Middle Ages.
A few months before the opening of the Year of Faith, Bishop of Pavia Giovanni Giudici recommended St. Augustine as an aid to the faithful in living this special year: “To look to the Church as a sign and instrument of God’s action in human history, as we were taught to look at St. Augustine, is to learn to turn the eyes of faith to Christ, accept his gospel, and love the Church.
“This attitude implies to us that we belong to the Church by a choice of responsibility because our lives express the Christian message. But it is also to accept that the Church is looked at from the outside, by people who are not yet in the Christian community, or distance themselves from the Church. I ask St. Augustine, who lived through the turbulent story of the Donatists, to help us Christians to live so that the visibility of the Church corresponds better to what she really is.”