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.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.