The religious Order of St. Augustine or the Augustinians, was the first Catholic missionary order to reach the Philippines in 1565 via the expedition led by Adelantado Miguel Lopez de Legazpi guided by the famed navigator and Augustinian friar Andres de Urdaneta. On 31 December 1575, They established the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus in the Philippines four years after Legazpi established Manila as the capital of the then new Spanish settlement.
The order is credited with having established and Christianized the most number of natives during the colonial period that in 1898, during the start of the Philippine revolution against Spain and the end of the colonizer’s administration in the country, around 300 towns were under their pastoral care with about 2.2 million Filipino Catholics.
These towns stretched from the far reaches of Ilocos, Abra and La Union in northwestern Luzon; Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan, Batangas and Metro Manila in Central Luzon and the Southern Tagalogs. In the Visayas, they have their presence felt in Panay and central and southern Cebu as well as at the lonesome outpost of Cagayancillo, Palawan in the Sulu Sea. This used to be more extensive but several towns were turned over to the other orders in the course of history like those in many towns in Laguna and Cagayan Valley.
The seal (above, left, from the facade of Pardo Church in Cebu) of the order usually consists of a flaming heart pierced by two arrows with a bishops hat or mitre at the top. Below the heart is a book. These are usually seen just above the portal. In some churches, the image of St. Augustine together with his mother, St. Monica can be seen.
Other sample repre- sentations:
Left, detail of seal from Boljoon located at the pediment.
Right, another seal from Carcar where the bishop’s hat seemed to have been truncated at the top. Both are churches in southern Cebu.
Left, detail of carved image at the facade of the Basilica of Sto. Nino in Cebu.
Right, carved image of St. Monica, at the door of Angat Church in Bulacan.
These two motifs can also be seen in the intricately carved portals of Hagonoy, Bulacan and San Agustin Church in Intramuros while the seal can be found in many other churches, e.g., Dalaguete, Minglanilla in Cebu; Guiguinto, San Miguel in Bulacan; Paoay in Ilocos.