Leo XIII's action in 1893 definitively ended seventy-five years of division within the Order. While statistics are not available for the number of religious in the Order in the nineteenth century, the number of those subject to the Prior General at Rome must have dwindled to about 200 by 1871.
Photo (below): With the permission and direction of Pope Leo XIII the remains of St Augustine were in 1900 returned from the Pavia Cathedral to their resting place until 1700, the Augustinian Church of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro, Pavia. The sanctuary floor was strengthened to hold the “Arca” (tomb), which previously had stood in the very spacious sacristy of this church. The insert (at the top right of the main photo) is a portrait of Cardinal Agostino Riboldi (formerly the Archbishop of Pavia), who pressed strenuously for the return on Augustine's tomb to Pavia's Augustinian Church.
In 1908, which was five years after the death of Leo XIII, the prior General at Rome had 2,010 Augustinian friars under his jurisdiction. In the United States alone the number of religious increased from 35 in 1865 to 113 in 1902. Another statistical comparison is this: at the General Chapter of 1847, Italy, Ireland and Malta had representation, whereas at the General Chapter held in Rome in 1901, Italy, Ireland, Malta, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Germany, United States, the Philippines, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bohemia, Antilles and Poland were represented.
During his long pontificate of twenty-five years, Leo officially declared only seventeen persons to be saints of the Church, yet two of these were Augustinians, Clare of Montefalco and Rita of Cascia. As well, the following persons with Augustinian connections were declared Blessed: Alphonsus Orozco, Angelo of Furcio, James of Querqueto, Santes of Core, William of Toulouse, Gracian of Catharo, John Stone, Angelo of Foligno, and Josephine Mary of St Agnes. In the year 1331, Pope John XXII had given the Augustinian Order the sole control of the guardianship of the mortal remains of St Augustine in the Church of Saint Peter in Ciel d'Oro in Pavia. At the time of the Napoleonic invasion of Italy that began in 1796, however, Augustine’s remains had been transferred to the Cathedral at Pavia, where they remained until 1900.
Having re-established their community at Pavia, and with the church of Saint Peter in Ciel d'Oro a basilica again in their control, the Augustinians welcomed the Brief of Leo XIII on 14th September 1900 that authorised the return of the remains of St Augustine to Augustinian custody once again. To commemorate the translation of the remains of Saint Augustine back to their former resting place, Pope Leo XIII wrote a poem. Augustinians scattered throughout the world are perpetually remembered at the tomb of St Augustine by lamps fixed into the balustrade, one placed there and provided for by each province, congregation and major convent of the Order. Never before in the history of the Order had its members been given so many high positions of honour as during the pontificate of Leo XIII. He raised three Augustinians to the position of cardinal, and appointed many more of them as bishops. Fr Augustine Ciasca, one of the three to be made cardinal, was an outstanding orientalist of the nineteenth century. He excelled in Scripture, but it was in the study of Oriental languages - Hebrew, Arabic, and Syro-Chaldaic - that he was to find fame.
Pictures (at right) Picture 1: Pope Leo XIII Picture 2: Cardinal Augustine Ciasca O.S.A. Picture 3: Cardinal Luigi Sepiacci O.S.A.In 1891 Leo XIII named Fr Ciasca titular Archbishop of Larissa and Legate to the Ruthenian Synod held in Austrian Poland. He also served as Prefect in the Vatican Archives. He was named a Cardinal by the Pope on 19th June 1899. Fr Ciasca also brought to light the fragments of the Bible in the Borgiano Museum and published these with other Coptic manuscripts. Fr Luigi Sepiacci, another of the Augustinian Cardinals, was ordained to the priesthood by the then Cardinal-Archbishop of Perugia, Giacomo Pecci, in 1859. Fr Sepiacci remained on terms of close friendship with Leo XIII throughout his life.The Pope named him his personal representative to the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1883, with Fr Patrick Stanton O.S.A. of St Augustine's Church in Philadelphia as his secretary; but as the Pope's plan was not popular with the American bishops Fr Sepiacci remained in Rome. Sepiacci was later named the Bishop of Callinico, President of the Roman Academy for Noble Ecclesiastics, Secretary of the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars, and on 14th December 1891 he was named Cardinal, with St Prisca as his titular church. He was noted for his clear thinking and his eloquence.
The final Augustinian Cardinal appointed by Leo XIII (and there has been no other Augustinian cardinal until February 2012 thereafter) was Fr Sebastian Martinelli, who earlier while Prior General of the Order had been named Apostolic Delegate to the United States in 1896.
On 19 April 19 1901, Pope Leo XIII announced that Fr Martinelli had been elevated to the cardinalate, with St Augustine's Church in Rome as his titular church. He received the red biretta from Cardinal Gibbons in the Baltimore Cathedral on 8th May 1901, and acted as Pro-delegate until his successor was appointed the following year. After he returned to Rome, Cardinal Martinelli served as Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, and among other things, he was a member of the Commission of Cardinals for the Codification of Canon Law. He died at Rome on 4 July 1918.
Photo (below): A well-known painting of Cardinal Sebastian Martinelli O.S.A.
Among Augustinians raised to the episcopate by Leo XIII was Cardinal Thomas Martinelli, a brother of Sebastian who had been created a cardinal by Pius IX while still a priest. Leo XIII named him Bishop of the suburban see of Sabina. During his pontificate, Leo XIII appointed at least seventeen Augustinians as bishops, which was hugely greater than the rate in all of the previous and subsequent decades in the Order’s lengthy history. Mission activity has always played an important role in our order. In the General chapter at Cologne in 1377, a command was issued ordering provinces adjoining pagan regions to preach the Gospel there, and it counselled all other provinces to make a similar provision.
But the greatest missionary activity in the Augustinian Order began in the sixteenth century when the Spanish friars evangelised in Latin America, the Philippines and China. At the time when Cardinal Pecci became Pope Leo XIII, the Order had missions in South America, the Philippines, and Australia. During his pontificate, Leo XIII assigned three new mission territories to the Order: the northern part of Hunan in China and the northern section of Peru to the Spanish Augustinians; and the territory of North Queensland in Australia to the Irish Augustinians.
Tomb (Arca) of St Augustine. It is in the Augustinian Church of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro (Italian for "Saint Peter in the Sky of Gold"), Pavia, northern Italy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Pietro_in_Ciel_d%27Oro
Idle Speculations. A blog in April 2007 about St Augustine and his tomb. Photographs included. http://idlespeculations-terryprest.blogspot.com/2007/04/saint-augustine.html
Basilica di San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro - Saint Augustine’s tomb. 65 images.http://www.slideshare.net/michaelasanda/basilica-di-san-pietro-in-ciel-doro-saint-augustines-tomb
Biography of Cardinal Agostino Ciasca O.S.A. He died in 1903, and in 1938 his final resting place became the Church of S. Maria del Popolo in Rome. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03766c.htm