Here is an extract dated 1886 (the 1500th centenary of the conversion of St Augustine) from Fr Joseph Shannon's archives of the Province of St Thomas of Villanova. The archivist describes the celebration of Centenary 15, but we also enclose a schedule of this year's commemorative events.
ST AUGUSTINE lived in an age when paganism still lived, and Christianity was moulding to the holiness of the New Law the ' different classes of society.
His mind loved the noble and the true, and although his life, for many years had been one of anxiety and discomfort, his intellectual pride prevented him from embracing the faith of his mother.
While Augustine pursued his studies in Carthage, he was induced to hearken to the doctrines of Manicheanism, and plunged into all kinds of excesses.
But the light was prepared to dawn upon him through the instrumentality of a good and prayerful mother, who scarcely permitted an hour to pass without some supplicating words to Heaven for light for her dear child.
Monica was comforted by the assurance of a venerated prelate that the 'child of her tears should not perish,' and she prayed that Augustine's magnificent mind, with all the horrors of demons beneath him, and crushed with the woes of uncertainty, might mount the winding hills of repentance and knock at Heaven's gate for mercy and for truth.
The mother's prayer was heard. The grace of God began, like the soft dawn, to steal over the day of Augustine's existence. He threw himself, like Magdalen, at the feet of Jesus, and became the light of doctors and of saints.
Thousands availed themselves of the indulgences attached to the Commemoration, and the grand solemnities concluded with the singing of that sublime canticle which fifteen hundred years ago was sung in alternate verses by the great St Ambrose and the greater St Augustine: "Te Deum Laudamus; Te Dominum Confitemur."
The fifteenth centenary of the Conversion of St Augustine was becomingly celebrated last week in all the houses of the Order of Hermits of St Augustine in this country.
At the Mother House at Villanova, a solemn triduum of preparation was held on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, the officiating priest being assisted by Deacon and Subdeacon.
The members of the community were present in the habit of the Order, and there was a large attendance of the parishioners, as well as at the Solemn Mass on the feast day itself, namely, Thursday, May 5.
At St Augustine's Church, in this city (Philadelphia), a Triduum was commenced on Tuesday, 3d instant. The solemnities were exceedingly impressive.
The three beautiful altars, adorned with choicest flowers of May, were resplendent with the effulgence of myriads of candles. Very Rev Dr Stanton OSA; Very Rev C A McEvoy, OSA; Rev Peter Crone, OSA; Rev Jos A Locke, OSA, and Rev John P Gillimore, OSA, assisted at the Solemn Benediction which was given on each evening.
On Tuesday evening Rev Father Herlihy, OSA, spoke on the 'Efficacy of Prayer', as exemplified by St Monica's success in obtaining through it the conversion of her wayward son.
On Wednesday, Father Whelan, OSA, took for his theme the unprecedented persistence and love of St Monica.
On Thursday evening we had the pleasure of hearing the Rev F X McGowan, OSA, who closed the exercises, and of whose sermon we are enabled to give a somewhat comprehensive report.
He said: "We have gathered to honor with praise and thanksgiving the fifteenth centenary of St Augustine's conversion to Christian faith.
All Christian ages and all Christian men have felt the influence of St Augustine. St Augustine's name has been made venerable with the admiration of fifteen hundred years.
It is a name that has shone in the noblest ranks of Christian culture; a beacon-light leading men's sorely tried souls to the haven of Christian belief; a loadstone attracting men's hearts to the love of the good and the true, and one which even heresy has been forced to venerate.