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Lala Bouna shines again

· The Basilica of St Augustine, to whose restoration Benedict XVI contributed, reopens ·

“A building that stands as a symbol of the bonds between religions” and “must remain at the service of dialogue between the two shores of the Mediterranean” today has been restored to its ancient “splendour”. These were the words of the bishop of Constantine et Hippone, Paul Desfarger, at the public re-opening of the Basilica of St. Augustine in Annaba, ancient Hippo, on the Algerian coast. After almost three years of work, its famous one hundred and forty stained glass windows have been given new splendour, its external walls have been cleaned, and its floor and roof have been refurbished, including the friezes of flooring in blue, yellow and green. The inauguration was an event celebrated by the entire city and nation.

Lala Bouna (“good mother” as the locals like to call the Basilica of St Augustine) has formed a federation between Algeria and France: the twin cities of Annaba and Annaba and Saint- Etienne have signed an accord, as have the provinces of Annaba and the Rhône -Alpes. The French daily Le Figaro has reported that the donors include the French and German embassies, numerous churches and religious communities (such as the Italian and German bishops' conferences and the Order of St Augustine), and Benedict XVI. In an August 2012 interview with L' Osservatore Romano , Bishop Desfarger stated: “The Papal Foundation had already offered a contribution for the restoration. However, when Benedict XVI was informed of the need to restore the ancient temple, he sought in a special way to take part in financing the work by making a personal contribution. The Basilica of Annaba serves not only as a place of worship. The entire hill of Hippo with the basilica  resting at its peak is a symbolic place. It is a powerful symbol of human and spiritual friendship and fraternity. It is place that spans cultures and religions also through the merits of  St Augustine who instilled these values through his humanism, faith and culture and who leads every man to the essential”.

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