Augustinian Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus of the Philippines

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The Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus of the Philippines of the religious Order of St. Augustine was officially formed on March 7, 1575.

The Monastery of the Augustinian Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus of the Philippines in Valladolid, Spain, also known as the Real Colegio de Agustinos Filipinos.Left to right: [1] Facade; [2] Cloister.

Historical background[edit]

Andrés de Urdaneta.Left to right: [1] Portrait as a famed navigator; [2] Lithograph image as an Augustinian Friar.

It was an offshoot of the establishment of the first permanent Spanish settlements in the Philippines by Adelantado Miguel López de Legazpi. The then Prior General of the Order, Fr. Tadeo de Perusa, issued the decree creating the new Augustinian Province in the Philippines to be known as the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus of the Philippines (Santisimo Nombre de Jesus de Filipinas). A decade earlier, in 1565, Legazpi arrived in the Philippines at the head of an expedition sent by Viceroy Luis de Velasco of New Spain to discover islands west of the Moluccas upon the orders of the Spanish monarch. Enlisted to guide the perilous voyage was the famed navigator Andrés de Urdaneta (b. 1498 - d. June 3, Mexico, 1568), an Augustinian friar.

Although a veteran of previous voyages across the Pacific, Father Urdaneta was reluctant to take part in the expedition, let alone command it. When he declined the offer to lead, the responsibility fell upon the shoulders of Legazpi. Already in his sixties and in poor health, Father Urdaneta considered himself retired as a navigator especially after having earlier turned his back on the world by joining the Augustinian Order in Mexico.

But when King Philip II of Spain ordered the viceroy to "prepare a fleet of discovery" of the western islands near the Moluccas and wrote Father Urdaneta a letter asking him to guide the voyage, he felt compelled to obey for "the glory of God and the expansion of our faith." The Spanish Crown between 1525 and 1542 had sent several expeditions to strengthen its claim on the Moluccas, but none of these voyages ended in a permanent Spanish presence in the Philippines. Having ascended to the Spanish throne, Philip II ordered his men to concentrate their efforts on the Philippines, a move that was also meant to avoid further conflict with the Portuguese, the main Spanish rival in this frenetic period of the Age of Discovery.

Augustinians: first Catholic missionaries in the Philippines[edit]

If the greatest missionary work of the Augustinian Order has been displayed in the Philippines, it is because they were the first Catholic missionaries there. Father Andres de Urdaneta and four other Augustinians—Fathers Martín de Rada (b. 1533 - d. 1578), Diego de Herrera, Pedro de Gamboa and Andrés de Aguirre—started a successful apostolate in Cebú as soon as they landed in 1565. Legazpi founded the first Spanish settlement there in a spot where his men had stumbled upon a statue of the Child Jesus in a burnt hut. He named the place Villa del Santísimo Nombre de Jésus in honor of the Holy Child. The Spaniards considered it miraculous to have found the statue, a gift from Ferdinand Magellan to the wife of the rajah of Cebu after her conversion to Catholicism in 1521. Father Urdaneta returned to Mexico and decided to stay after being dissuaded by his family and friends.

Meanwhile, hardships brought about by lack of food, harsh living conditions and probing attacks mounted by the Portuguese from the Moluccas forced Legazpi to set sail for Panay island, where he replenished his supplies and planned for a definitive voyage to Luzon that would eventually lead to over 300 years of Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines with the establishment of Manila on June 24, 1571 as the capital of the new Spanish colony.

In Luzon, the Augustinians embarked upon the evangelization of native settlements and subsequently built churches in Calumpit, Malolos, Hagonoy, Bigaa, Guiguinto and Quingua in the province of Bulacan and in Lubao, Betis, Macabebe, Bacolor, San Fernando and Apalit in province of Pampanga.

Formation of a new province[edit]

Under the leadership of Father Alfonso Gutierez, 24 Spanish Augustinians in 1575 landed in the islands and, with the guidance of both Fathers Herrera and Rada, worked very successfully, at first as itinerant preachers. Their missionary zeal played a pivotal role in the evolution of the archipelago into today's only Catholic nation in Asia. In Manila, the Augustinians had been given a piece of land within the walled city of Intramuros to build a church and a monastery. To provide a steady source of missionaries to the Philippines following the founding of the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus of the Philippines, a seminary was created in Valladolid, Spain. Father Herrera was the Province's first prior provincial.

San Agustín Church and Monastery is closely tied to the history of the Philippines for it was here where the Augustinians had planned and carried out the evangelization of the country and had first introduced Western ideas to the natives while serving as a vanguard of resistance against the state. Father Rada denounced abuses committed by Spanish authorities against the local population and reported these to Philip ll. His vigorous advocacy for justice has earned him a place in history as the "Defender of the Natives." A key document in this matter was his Parecer del Provincial fray Martín de Rada, agustino, sobre las cosas de estas tieras ("Opinions of Provincial Father Martin de Rada, augustinian friar, about the things of this land"), dated at Manila, 21 June 1575. It is also where the Adelantado Miguel López de Legazpi is buried.

The missionaries of the Province have given the world valuable descriptive works on Asian countries and their peoples especially in the early days of Western presence in what was then the inscrutable East. Included in this key Augustinian contribution are Father Cipriano Navarro's important work on The Inhabitants of the Philippines and a monumental work in six volumes by Father Manuel Blanco titled Flora de Filipinas (Madrid, 1877--). Both works are priceless contributions to literature and learning. World-renowned botanist Father Blanco had built a botanical garden for his plant experiments in Intramuros that became the basis for his internationally acclaimed book.

Economic, social and cultural labors in Asia and beyond[edit]

Devotion to the Santo Niño (Holy Child Jesus) - a Spiritual heritage left by the Augustines in the Philippines. Left to right: [1] an image of Santo Niño de Cebu; [2] The Plaza in front of the facade of Santo Niño Shrine, used for Friday devotional Masses and for the Feast of the Holy Child.

Since 1565 to the present, more than 3,000 Augustinian missionaries have dedicated themselves to apostolic, social, and cultural labor in the Philippines, China and Japan. The Augustinian missions in the Philippines have provided missionaries for the East since their first establishment. In 1603 some of them entered Japan, where several were martyred, and in 1653 others reached China, where in 1701 the Order had six missionary stations. Father Rada was one of those who visited China, and he reported extensively on his findings and impressions about the country. He is considered to be the first ambassador of the Philippines to China during colonial times.

Before the Philippine Revolution of 1896, the Augustinians administered over four hundred schools and churches in the islands. In 1904 they established the University of San Agustin in Iloilo City that eventually emerged as the largest Augustinian educational institution in the world in terms of student population and the only Augustinian university in the Asia-Pacific region. They have also served as the custodians of the Santo Niño Shrine in Cebu City, which houses the centuries-old image of the Child Jesus recovered by Legazpi's men in 1565, within the Basilica del Santo Niño de Cebu, now under the care of the all-Filipino Augustinian Province of Santo Niño of Cebu that separated from the mother province in 1983.

The Province in 1968 reestablished Augustinian presence on the Indian subcontinent, which passing Augustinian missionaries first reached by way of Goa in 1542. Incidentally, these four men—Fathers Jeronimo de Santisteban, Nicolas de Alvarado, Sebastian Reina (or de Trasierra), and Alfonso de Alvarado—once they had returned to Spain, became the first four priests and members of a religious order to have sailed entirely around the world.

From its houses in Spain and its missions in the Philippines, the Province in the past had deployed missionaries to Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela. At present, it is actively involved in training and sending missionaries to Tanzania. In the United States, its friars run the Church of the Holy Rosary in Manhattan under the Archdiocese of New York.


  • Parroquia San Roque, Av. Maresme 139-141, Badalona, Spain 08913. Telephone: (93) 387.3148 Fax: (93) 399.3951
  • Convento de San José, Iparraguirre 24 48009, Bilbao, Bizkaia, Spain. Telephone: (94) 424.1199 Fax: (94) 424.5559
  • Colegio Andrés de Urdaneta, Lauroeta Etorbidea 6 48180 Loiu, Bizkaia, Spain. Telephone: (94) 453.3308 Fax: (94) 471.0248
  • Casa Provincial Andrés de Urdaneta, Manuel Uribe 1 28033 Madrid, Spain. Telephone: (91) 300.0646 Fax: (91) 759.7436
  • Capellania MM. Agustinas, Santa Teresa, 7 Apdo. 24447407 Medina Del Campo, Valladolid, Spain. Telephone: (98) 380.3454
  • Parroquia Nra. Sra. de Consolación, Calle Pintor Miró, 3 28933 Mostoles, Madrid, Spain. Telephone: (91) 226.8720 Fax: (91)226.8730
  • Convento Nra. Sra. del Carmen, Paseo del Puerto, 14 48990 Neguri, Vizcaya, Spain. Telephone: (94) 491.0740 Fax: (94) 460.0096
  • Holy Rosary Parish, 444 East 119th Street, New York, NY 10035 U.S.A. Telephone: (212) 534.0740 Fax: (212) 534.7572
  • Comunidad PP. Agustinos, Plaza Concejil, 1 38400 Puerto de la Cruz 38 00 51 Par, Tenerife, Spain. Telephone: (92) 238.4602
  • Comunidad PP. Agustinos, Plaza Santo Domingo, 6 24200 Valencia de Don Juan, Leon, Spain. Telephone: (98) 775.2429 Fax: (98) 752.022
  • Real Colegio de Agustinos Filipinos, Paseo Filipinos, 7 47007 Valladolid, Spain 30 68 00. Telephone: (98) 330.6900 Fax: (98)397.896
  • Comunidad de formación, Paseo Filipinos, 7 47007 Valladolid 30 06 21 Spain. Telephone: (98) 330.8389 Fax: (98) 397.896
  • Colegio San Agustín, Avenida de las Torres, 79-89 50008 Zaragoza 22 48 43 Spain. Telephone: Tel. (97) 622.4844 Fax: (97) 622.6876

See also[edit]



  • Blas Sierra de la Calle, OSA, "Friars' Museum Showcases Finest Far Eastern Art Collection in Spain," in Search, The Augustinian Journal of Cultural Excellence (Makati) I (2004), p. 9.
  • Policarpo F. Hernández, OSA, "A Church Built for the Ages Fuses Two Alien Cultures," in Search, The Augustinian Journal of Cultural Excellence (Makati) I (2004), pp. 45–55.
  • This article incorporates texts from Augnet: A reference Web site on St. Augustine and the Order of Saint Augustine.
  • The Advent. Online Catholic Encyclopedia.

External links[edit]