“Explore the historic San Agustin Church and learn how it stood the test of time….”
San Agustin Church is a Roman Catholic church that was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993 under the Baroque Churches of the Philippines categoy. It is one of the four churches in the Philippines that was built during the Spanish colonial period which made it a National Historical Landmark in 1976. The church is concealed inside the walled city Intramuros, which is known as a famous tourist spot because of its rich history.
The first structure of San Agustin church was constructed by the Spaniards in 1570 and was completed in 1571 with the use of bamboo and nipa as the prime materials. But in December of 1574, the forces of Limahong attempted to invade Manila which resulted into destroying the church through fire. It was rebuilt a year later using wood on the same site but was destroyed again in February 1583 during the internment of Gonzalo Ronquillo de Penalosa, who was the Spanish Governor-General at the time. The fire started when the drapes of the funeral bier was set ablaze by a candle.
In 1586, the church was reconstructed using stone and was designed by architect Juan Macias. The Augustinians decided to add an adjacent monastery to serve as their residence. A new structure was built with the use of hewn adobe stones which were quarried from different places including Meycauyan, San Mateo Rizal and Binangonan. But due to lack of materials and funds, the construction was carried out slowly. The scarcity of stone artisans was another reason of the slow work progression. On January 19, 1606, the church was finally completed. However, the monastery became operation first in 1604 than the church. By the time the church was formally declared complete, Macias had died but the Augustinians acknowledged him as the edifice’s builder.
The Agustin Church, formerly known as the Church and Convent of Saint Paul, was damaged due to several wars such as the Seven Years’ War, Spanish-American War and Word War II. During the Japanese occupation, hundreds of people were held captive and hostage in the church. Aside from the war, the church was afflicted by several earthquakes. On June 3, 1863, a strong earthquake hit Manila and caused widespread destruction; however leaving the San Agustin Church undamaged among the other public buildings in the city. On July 18-20, 1880, an earthquake left a big crack on the church’ left bell tower. Many other earthquakes struck the city like in 1645, 1699, 1754, 1796, 1825 and 1852; but the San Agustin Church withstood.
Despite all the calamities and wars, the church has survived and has remained standing among the seven churches inside Intramuros. The monastery was turned into a museum after it was totally destroyed. In 2013, San Agustin Church’s colorful facade undergone renovation replacing it with stone-colored ones.