America’s First Catholic Parish Celebrates Feast of Saint Augustine

The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine will kick off the festivities for the 450th Anniversary on Friday, August 28 with the liturgical observances for their patron, Saint Augustine of Hippo, and the 16th Annual Augustinian Address.

Dr. Michael Francis will present this year's annual Augustinian Address. | Special

Dr. Michael Francis will present this year’s annual Augustinian Address. | Special

“Since 2000, as part of the celebrations of our patronal feast day, the Cathedral has also sponsored the Annual Augustinian Address,” said Father Tom Willis pastor of the Cathedral. “This year, however, it takes on a special significance as our parish and city celebrates the 450th Anniversary of our founding.”

A special Mass will be celebrated at 7 a.m. in the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine, 38 Cathedral Place, with Father Willis as the principal celebrant and homilist. Later in the day, at 6 p.m., Bishop Felipe J. Estévez will preside at Solemn Vespers for the feast. At both services the first-class relic of Saint Augustine of Hippo – on loan from the Vatican for the celebrations of the parish’s 450th Anniversary – will be on display for veneration. At the conclusion of Vespers, Bishop Estévez will bless those assembled with the relic.

“It’s just so special for us to have this relic for the patronal feast,” Father Willis remarked. “Not only is it the first time that such a significant relic has travelled to the United States, but for us to have it here – in our city – for the feast day, it seems to me that it’s a double blessing.”

Following Vespers the 16th Annual Augustinian Address will be delivered by Michael Francis, Ph.D., the Hough Family Endowed Chair for Florida Studies at the University of South Florida. His topic will be “Beyond the Martyrs: Building the Church in Early Colonial Florida.” The Address will take place at the Bishop Baker Parish Center, 259 St. George Street, at 7:15 p.m.

Dr. Francis is the author of the recently published book – St. Augustine: A Story of Unbroken History and Enduring Spirit. The book will be available for purchase following his presentation.

The public is cordially invited to attend all these celebrations. A light reception will be held following the Augustinian Address at the Bishop Baker Parish Center.

For more information, call the parish office at (904) 824-2806.