In 1842, the elbow bones of Augustine were transported from Pavia to Annaba (overlooking the ruins of Hippo, where Augustine lived and had his small cathedral) in anticipation of the construction of the modern basilica that now stands there. Long a refuge for pirates, the Port of Annaba remained a village for centuries until it was captured by the French in 1832. The French called it Bone, and it became home to more European colonists than most other cities in Africa.
Image (below): This was the reliquary in which the bones of Augustine’s right arm were carried from Pavia to Annaba, Algeria in October 1842. This reliquary remains on display in the Basilica of St Augustine at Annaba.
Early in the year 1842, Monsignor Dupuch, the first Bishop of Algiers in the modern era, set out for Italy to discuss with Pope Gregory XVI the problems of his new diocese. He had, also, something else in mind: he wished to obtain a relic St Augustine. Bishop Tosi of Pavia was most gracious and willing to satisfy his yearning as long as the Pope would authorize it. Agreement was reached, and the month of October 1842 was chosen for the transfer of the relic from Italy to Africa. On 12th October 1842 Bishop Dupuch was again in Pavia and there, in the presence of the entire assembly of the chapter, by indult of Gregory XVI, Bishop Tosi opened the reliquary and solemnly transferred to the possession of Bishop Dupuch the right arm bones of St Augustine.
After a moving farewell to the clergy and the people of Pavia, Bishop Dupuch began his journey to Algieria. In Milan, in Navarre, in Vercelli, in Turin, in Nice, and everywhere the bishop stopped, the relic was met by crowds. The port of Toulon was reached, from whence the relic would be taken to North Africa by ship. On Sunday, 23rd October 1842, after a solemn Mass and a fervent sermon by the Bishop of Algiers, the relic was carried by four priests in their habits through the principal streets of the Toulon, followed in procession by eight bishops. Finally, on 28th October, the ship Gassendi, chartered by the French Government, received on board the relic, as well as the bishops who were to provide an escort. A second ship, Tenare, followed with a number of priests and religious on board. Amid the exultant din of church bells and the artillery of the forts, the two ships sailed out of the port of Toulon where more than twenty thousand persons had come to acclaim Augustine.
As the group passed Sardinia where they would have stopped had it not meant delaying their arrival in Africa by a full day, the Bishop of Chalons, raising the reliquary, blessed with the right arm bones of the saint first France, then Africa the country of Augustine, and finally that hospitable island which 1,344 years before had afforded refuge to Augustine’s earthly remains. On the morning of the twenty-eighth, they entered the gulf of Bone (the name given by the French to Annaba). The ship's cannon thundered forth and the church bells on shore chimed in joyous response. Throngs of people hurried toward the port, to the place where the landing of the pious pilgrimage would occur.
The bishop had eagerly obtained this relic of Augustine, which then had to await four decades before the present magnificent basilica of St Augustine was constructed at Annaba, finally completed in 1881. This impressive Basilica of Saint Augustine at Annaba is located on a hill top formerly dedicated to the Phoenician god Baal-Hammon and the equivalent of Saturn to the Romans.This site overlooks the ruins of Hippo Regius in the valley below, where once stood the Basilica of Peace used by Augustine 1,600 years ago.
Image (below): In the Basilica of St Augustine at Annaba (overlooking Hippo) in Algeria, the glass case contains a life-size marble statue of Augustine in death. In the marble right arm can be seen a glass tube containing Augustine’s arm bones. This basilica at Annaba was built in 1881 by Abbe Pougnet, the architect of the Reform church in Marseilles, France. The decorative marble stone used in its construction was imported from the south east of France. Its design contains Arab, Byzantine, and Roman characteristics that represent Saint Augustine as a person of dialogue at the crossroads of different civilisations. In this basilica, these bones of Augustine’s right arm were inserted in a glass tube in their correct position in a full-size funeral statue of Augustine. It is still there today in the basilica at Annaba (Hippo) in the same reliquary.
A further note
Additionally, there is information about an arm bone of Augustine. Aethelnoth (known also as Egelnodus or Ednodus), who died on 29th October 1038, was the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was a son of the ealdorman Æthelmaer, and a member of the royal family of Wessex. He became a monk at Glastonbury, then dean of the monastery of Christ Church, Canterbury. The number of his canons were so great, compared to the few monks, that he was consecrated as Archbishop of Canterbury by the Archbishop of York on 13th November 1020. He was the counsellor, chaplain and close friend of King Cnut (Canute) the Great, and worked with the king to unite people in the kingdom with English and Danish ancestors. Largely with the aid of Canute, he restored the Cathedral at Canterbury.
In the year 1022 he went to Rome to receive his pallium (the stole presented to archbishops by the Pope), and was received with great respect by Pope Benedict VIII. Returning from Rome he purchased at Pavia a relic said to be an arm of Saint Augustine of Hippo, for a hundred talents of silver and one of gold, and presented it to the abbey of Coventry. Other pieces of bone are recorded in subsequent centuries of being sent elsewhere in Italy, i.e., to Parma, Rome and Ragusa. This information about the arm bone of Augustine is from the Encyclopedia Britannica of 1911. No more recent reference about this has as yet been located by Augnet. Can somebody shed further light on this please? AN1216