The church during and after French rule
In the French period the monastery and the church were sold at public auction. (1797). According to Floris Prims former students bought the church in order to more easily return it to its rightful owners when the time was right. Both neighbours and students of the school made attempts to bring the furnishings and ornaments to safety. Many of the items were just traced by the authorities and ended up being auctioned off anyway.
The most important works of art, namely the altar pieces by Rubens, Van Dyck en Jordaens, were not sold, but confiscated and taken to Paris, where they ended up in the Musée Central (the Louvre) .They in fact were returned after the fall of Napoleon, in 1815, and became once again the show pieces of the church.
At that time the building was again functioning as a church. The permission for this was given just after the concord of 1801. At first, Saint Augustine served as a support church of the cathedral, but, as of 1803, it became an independent parish church.
Its new function led to, among other things, the building of a baptismal chapel and font by Floris de Cuyper. The current confessionals are also 19th century. Art works that weren’t returned, among them two paintings made by Jacob Jordaens in 1654-55 for this church, were replaced by contemporary works by, among others, Cornelius Cels, Andreas Lens and Samuel De Vriendt. Concerning the sculptures, Edward Deckers, Jules Weyns and most importantly Bruno Gerrits provided restoration. Gerrits was also responsible for sculpting the new and extended chancel. This classical white marble balcony on pillars of Dinant royal red was designed by Johannes De Vroey.
A decorative classical organ casing of a two manual organ, built by Theodor Smet in 1839 is elevated above the balcony. This instrument, which is still in need of restoration, is unique because there are no remaining functioning organs by this maker in Flanders. Furthermore the church has been draped with valuable 17th century paintings, on loan from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts. Examples of this include The Passion of Saint Bonaventura by Abraham van Diepenbeek, The order of Jesus in the Temple, by Cornelius Schut, Christ on the Cross, by Gaspar de Crayer, Christ as a pilgrim received by Saint Augustine, by Theodoor Rombauts and The Virgin with the Scapular, by Gerard Segers.
Equally important was the donation in 1836 of the painting Saint Helena, made by Johan Boeckhorst.