San Agustin Church Before 1880
San Agustin Church Today
Miniature Sheets of 8 (5,000)
Alfonso V. Divina
Fr. Pedro G. Galende
First Day Covers: Manila
San Agustin Church - 4th Centennial
San Agustin Church of Intramuros marks the 400th anniversary of its
construction in 2004. Finished in 1604, it becomes the
oldest stone church in the Philippines.
The history of San
Agustin dates back to 1570, year in which Legazpi founded Manila and
the Augustinian fathers built the first temporary church with thatch
and bamboo on the land donated to them by Legazpi himself. Three
other churches were built and destroyed by fire. In 1586 the
Augustinians, triggered by the new technique of stone cutting and
lime and sand mixing, imported by Jesuit Antonio Sedeno, approved a
resolution to construct a new church entirely of hewn stone.
Construction started in 1587. Antonio de Morga and the private
meeting of the Augustinians, reveal that in 1604 the church was
already completed. Historically, then, the San Agustin Church is the
oldest stone church in the country, despite claims by other churches
for this distinction.
In 1762 the British
forces sacked the Monastery and the Church and put to auction "their
properties, books, manuscripts, silver marcos, gold and precious
stones, ivory images, vestments and two portable organs."
On June 3, 1863, a
strong earthquake devastated Manila. The church did not suffer
greatly but on July 16-25, 1880, one of its towers cracked and had
to torn down later.
On August 4, 1898, the
Americans attacked Manila. San Agustin became shelter for the sick,
the old, women and children. Governor Jaudenes prepared the terms of
the surrender of Manila at the Chapel of Our Lady of Angustias. On
January 2, 1942, the Japanese occupied Manila and made San Agustin a
concentration camp for prisoners, sheltering hundreds of families
and religious priests, about 2,000 men including 150 Spaniards, many
of whom they killed near the Palacio del Gobernador. The American
troops seized the Church and the Monastery and stole books,
artifacts, statues and moneys. The walls and the roof of the Church
were heavily damaged.
In 1950 the Church was
made a Parish, under the title of the Immaculate Conception. The
First Plenary Council of the Philippines was held here in 1953. In
1976 San Agustin Church was declared a National Landmark, and in
1993 UNESCO listed it as one of the "baroque Churches of the
Philippines." On September 4, 2000, the Image of Our Lady of
Consolation, venerated here since immemorial time, was canonically
crowned by H.E. Jaime Cardinal Sin, D.D.
San Agustin has stood
witness to the most devastating earthquakes and wars, a bedrock of
the Filipino faith and culture.