The territory where finally the Augustinian Recollects obtained their mission in China is situated within the limits of the provinces of Henan and Shandong

The missions, social projects and solidarity actions are a constant in the action of the Augustinian Recollect Family. The Province of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine has always lived in mission, since its very birth was motivated by the opening of the first evangelization missions in the Philippines in the 17th century. Since then, he has carried out his evangelizing activity following the mandate of Jesus in the places today called “frontiers”: there where it is necessary to defend the dignity of human life, social justice, equal opportunities, the defense of the most vulnerable.

Historical background to the Augustinian Recollects in China

Since 1650 there is evidence of the desires to enter China by Recollect missionaries, which failed for financial reasons and the subjugation of the religious organizations to the Spanish and Portuguese empires. In this large trajectory there were two friars who managed to arrive to the Chinese imperial court: Adeodato of Saint Augustine and Anselmo of Santa Margarita, discalced Augustinians from Italy.

Adeodato of Saint Augustine appears in the documentation of 1784 in the court of the Chinese Emperor as a “machinist” (possibly a watch maker). In 1805 he sent a map of Shantung to Rome so that they would mark the frontiers of work for the Portuguese, Italian and Spanish religious. This map was intercepted; was accused of espionage, and exiled to Tartaria. In 1814 he arrived to Manila and asked to be admitted into the Recollection. He would die there on the 29th of January 1821 at sixty one years old.

Anselmo of Saint Margaret has a similar history. After suffering the Chinese persecution he is exiled and arrived in 1812 to Manila, where died on the 6th of December 1816 as a Recollect.

Shanghai

Due to the previous instability of the revolution in 1898 in the Philippines, Mariano Bernad (provincial between 1891 and 1894) searched for a house in China to safeguard the economy of the Province. This house would not be founded until 1907 in Shanghai, where the funds of the Province were arriving. All the procedures were within the Order, without permission for the Apostolic Vicar or the Holy See.

This same year in 1907 the general administrator agreed to ask the Holy See for a mission in Hunan, central China, divided into two extensive apostolic vicariates and without sufficient religious. But Propaganda Fide (the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) denied them permission. After this disillusion, they at least wanted to obtain official approval of the house in Shanghai, which for various reasons of difficulty and thanks to the intervention of Pope Pius X, was only achieved in 1911.

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