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Friday, November 2, 2012

San Agustin Church in Intramuros, Manila

The San Agustin Church is a Roman Catholic Church situated inside the Intramuros, also known as the “city within walls”, in Manila, Philippines. It is an active church, originally designed by Architect Juan Macias. The groundbreaking started on 1586 and was finished and consecreted in 1607 under the supervision successively of Augustinian Fathers Francisco de Bustos, Ildefonso Perez, Diego de Avila and Brother Alonso de Perea. The church has a Baroque Architectural Style with about 220 ft in length and 82 ft in width.

Under the auspices of The Order of St. Augustine, the San Agustin Church is considered as the oldest stone church still standing in the Philippines. There have been no other edifices claiming to survive longer than this church.

The San Agustin Church is one of the four Baroque Churches of the Philippines inscribed in 1993 on the World Heritage List pursuant to the 1972 UNESCO Convention, concerning the protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. The Church of San Agustin possesses exceptional universal value that deserves protection for the benefit of all humanity. It has been labeled as a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine Government in 1976.

The current structure is the third Augustinian Church erected on the site. The first San Agustin Church was made of Nipa and Bamboo, completed in 1571. It was the first religious structure built by the Spaniards in Luzon Island. The first church was destroyed by fire in December 1574 when the forces of Limahong invade Manila. The second church was made of wood and was destroyed by fire in February 1583.

The San Agustin Church was built using hewn adobe stones extracted from Meycauayan, Binangonan, and San Mateo, Rizal. Because of the lack of funds, the inability to gather materials and scarcity of skilled workers, the building of the church proceeded slowly. The monastery was already operational by 1604 but the church was formally declared finished on January 19, 1607 and was named St. Paul of Manila. The Architect, Juan Macias, died before the church was completed. He was acknowledged by the Augustinians as the main designer and builder of the structure.

There were several renovations made to the San Agustin Church. It has withstood many earthquakes from 1645 up the present and survived the British invasion in 1762, the Spanish-American was in 1898 and Japanese invasion in 1942. One of the most notable renovations was under the supervision of architect Luciano Oliver in 1854. On June 3, 1863, the strongest earthquake hit Manila leaving a massive destruction to the city. The quake left a huge crack of San Agustin Church’s left bell tower. The crack was repaired but eventually they permanently removed the left tower as it appears today.

The Church Choir has 68 carved Molave seats with Narra inlaids, an artistic lectern and parchment cantorals of the 17th and 18th centuries. The San Agustin Church and its graves were profaned during the British occupation of Manila in 1762. The ashes of early Spanish Conquistadores Legazpi, Salcedo, Lavezares and the Blessed Pedro de Zuniga and others now rest in the easternmost chapel of the transept. Terms for the American occupation of Manila were prepared in the vestry of the San Agustin Church in 1898. The first Philippine plenary council was held here in 1953. The adjacent monastery that was destroyed was rebuilt in the 1970s as a museum under the design of architect Angel Nakpil. The San Agustin Museum is open from Sunday to Monday from 9:00 am – 12:00 nn and 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm with admission fee of P100 for adults and P40 for children.


joycelising said...

This is one of the beautiful church in the Philippine. San Agustin Church is my dream wedding church.

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