San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro

Pavia, Italy

San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro (Italian for 'Saint Peter in Golden Sky') name refers to the mosaics of gold leaf behind glass tesserae that decorates the ceiling of the apse. 

A church of Saint Peter is recorded in Pavia in 604; it was renovated by Liutprand, King of the Lombards (who is buried here) between 720 and 725. The present Romanesque church was consecrated by Pope Innocent II in 1132.

The church is the resting place for the remains of Augustine of Hippo, who died in 430 in his home diocese of Hippo Regius, and was buried in the cathedral there, during the time of the Vandals. According to Bede's True Martyrology, the body was removed to Cagliari, Sardinia by the Catholic bishops whom the Arian Vandal Huneric had expelled from north Africa. Bede tells that the remains were subsequently redeemed out of the hands of the Saracens there—by Peter, bishop of Pavia and uncle of the Lombard king Liutprand—and deposited in the church of Saint Peter about the year 720.

In January 1327 Pope John XXII issued the papal bull Veneranda Santorum Patrum, in which he appointed the Augustinians guardians of the tomb of Augustine (the Arca di Sant'Agostino), which was remade in 1362 and elaborately carved with bas-reliefs of scenes from Augustine's life. The actual remains of Augustine, however, were no longer identified. Then, on October 1, 1695, illiterate stonemasons working in the crypt altar removed paving blocks and discovered a marble box. Within it were other boxes; in the third box were fragments of wood, numerous bones and bone fragments, and glass vials. Some of the workers later claimed to have seen the name 'Augustine' written in charcoal on the top of the box. A factor complicating the authentication of the remains was that San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro was shared by the two Augustinian religious orders in bitter rivalry. The controversy on the authenticity of the bones resulted in broadsides, pamphlets and books. In 1728, Pope Benedict XIII's intervention in Pavia resulted in his approval of the authenticity of Augustine's bones discovered in the church of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro.

The Augustinians were expelled in 1700, taking refuge in Milan with the relics of Augustine, and the disassembled Arca, which were removed to the cathedral there. The erstwhile cathedral in Pavia fell into disrepair; it was a military magazine under the Napoleonic occupation. It was not reconstructed until the 1870s, under the urging of Agostino Gaetano Riboldi, later Cardinal Riboldi, and reconsecrated in 1896 when the relics of Augustine and the shrine were once again reinstalled.

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Details

Founded: 1132
Category: Religious sites in Italy

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en.wikipedia.org

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User Reviews

Mo Iggy Loh (2 years ago)
At first glance, you may think that this is just one ordinary church. The name of the church, San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro (St. Peter in Golden Sky), refers to the mosaics of gold leaf behind the glass tesserae, decorating the ceiling of the apse. However, the mosaics seem not very well maintained and give the impression that the splendour of this church had faded throughout the centuries. Nonetheless, the richness of this church is not in the appearance but the treasures within. You can find the tombs of St. Augustine of Hippo and a lesser known philosopher, Boethius, here. There should not be many tourists around as well, which will give you the quiet space and time to yourself.
Christian Nabua (3 years ago)
at Pavia venerating the sacred remains of the Holy Father AUGUSTINE... Praying for all the Augustinians...?? - Fr. Dennis Ruiz,OAD
Gabriele Busnelli (3 years ago)
This church is no doubt the most interesting in town. It is most famous for being the rest place of the relics of two saints: Boetius and, most famous, Saint Augustin. While Boetius did die in Pavia, after having been treacherously sent into jail by his rivals in the Imperial house, Augustine’s bones reached Pavia through an adventurous path that involved Arab pirates and a stop in Cagliari. The actual urn in enclosed in a magnificently sculpted ark, it is exposed only on some recurrences (like the day of st. Augustine).
Stefano Bianchini (3 years ago)
Ancient and beautiful church
Albert King (4 years ago)
Great, if you can find it!
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