Church of St. Augustine
Philippines, Manila

The oldest stone church of St. Augustine in the Philippines is located on the island of Luzon, in the city of Manila, in the historical center of the capital Intramuros. The first church was erected by Spanish Augustinian missionaries in 1571, it was built of bamboo and palm wood. In December 1574, the temple was destroyed by fire, in its place was rebuilt a wooden church, also burned down in 1583. In 1586, the Order of St. Augustines initiated the construction of a stone church and monastery, and architect Juan Macias was appointed to lead the construction. Due to a lack of funds, building materials and masons, work was slow. Only in 1604 the monastery began to operate, and the church was officially opened and consecrated on January 19, 1607 (it was originally called the Church of San Pablo). In 1762, the church was sacked by British troops invading Manila during the Seven Years War; the church was not restored until 1854 under the direction of architect Luciano Oliverio. Nine years later, on June 3, 1863, a severe earthquake occurred in Manila. From the majority of the buildings of the city there were only ruins, and only the Church of St. Augustine miraculously survived. During the earthquake of 1880, the left bell tower of the church collapsed, cracks in the facade were closed, but the tower of the bell tower was never restored. It was in the Church of St. Augustine in 1898 that the Spanish governor-general Fermin Howdenes transferred control of the Philippines to the United States of America, whose victory in the Spanish-American war put an end to 330-year-old Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines. During the Second World War, the Philippines was under the occupation of Japan, the church and monastery of St. Augustine were turned by the Japanese authorities into a concentration camp. In the last days of the "Battle of Manila" the city (especially its historical center Intramuros) was subjected to the strongest air strikes, as a result of the almost uninterrupted bombing from Manila, there were only ruins. One of the few surviving buildings of Intramuros was the Church of St. Augustine. However, the nearby monastery was completely destroyed. Its restoration was carried out only in the 1970s, and in 1973 the monastery was transformed into a museum. The Church of St. Augustine is built in the likeness of the temples erected earlier by the Augustinians in Mexico, in the medieval style, and symbolizes the "grandeur and steadfastness of the Spanish Golden Era." The strict facade of the temple, the decoration of which is only carved wooden doors in the Baroque style, hides behind its walls a rich and lush interior. The church in the plan has the shape of a Latin cross, has 14 side chapels. The ceiling was painted in 1875 by Italian artists Cesare Alberoni and Juan Dibella - they used the technique of "tricking", creating the illusion of rich carving and stucco molding. The Baroque carved pulpit, an 18th-century organ, 16 magnificent chandeliers made in Paris, and choir benches, hand-carved from precious wood and decorated with ivory inserts, are of great value. The St. Augustine Museum houses statues, paintings, a large old bell, church vestments and other relics. In 1976, the Government of the Philippines granted the Church of St. Augustine the status of a national historical architectural monument, in 1993 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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