The first monastery of the Augustinian Recollects in Talavera de la Reina, Toledo, Spain, currently a municipal cultural centre

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.

In 1588, some of these Augustinians from the Province of Castilla responded to call of revision and reform for the mendicant orders, from which emerged the orders now called “discalced” or in the case of the Augustinians, “Recollects”. The History of the Church tends to reflect in these new orders the sense of asceticism, seclusion and the monastic life. But it would incorrect to not also concentrate in their apostolic and responsible proposal. One of the main sources of the Order of the Augustinian Recollects is Book of Chronicles, which relates in its first volume the first of the missions “to the mountains” in the High Pyrenees, almost immediately after the first expedition to the Philippines.

Santos de la Orden. Mosaico en la curia general de la Orden de Agustinos Recoletos, Roma, Italia. De izquierda a derecha, Vicente Soler, Magdalena de Nagasaki, Tomás de Villanueva y Ezequiel Moreno. Los más insignes recoletos tienen en común una historia de vida con importantes capítulos misioneros.
Saints of the Order. Mosaic in the General House of the Augustinian Recollects in Rome, Italy. From left to right, Vicente Soler, Magdalena de Nagasaki, Thomas de Villanueva y Ezekiel Moreno. The most distinguished recollects have in common lives whose history has important missionary elements.

he mission to the Philippines is what has marked later history. It was the first destination for the Recollect missionaries. The first prior provincial, fray Juan de San Jerónimo, received from the King Felipe III the offer to be Bishop of San Cristóbal de Chiapas. But the good friar responded to the king, that instead of such a grace, it was permitted him to head a mission to “new lands”. The monarch chose the Philippines and demanded an expedition of twelve religious.

The Augustinian Recollects chose fourteen of the many who offered to go. On May the first 1605, the Chapter ordered Juan de San Jerónimo, the outgoing provincial, to take charge of the first expedition. He chose religious from the half a dozen existing Recollect monasteries: Jerónimo de Cristo, Miguel de la Madre de Dios, Diego de la Anunciación, Pedro de San Fulgencio, Rodrigo de San Miguel, Francisco Bautista, Francisco de la Madre de Dios, Andrés de San Nicolás, Juan de San Guillermo, Jerónimo de la Madre de Dios, Francisco de San Jerónimo, Simón de San José y Andrés del Espíritu Santo. They were the first missionaries in the history of the Recollection.

Mural explaining [in Spanish] the first journey of the Augustinian Recollect missionaries to the Philippines.
On the 10th of May 1606 they arrived in Manila. In this way began a large and rich missionary Recollect history, with a series of almost uninterrupted expeditions, which during four centuries, have sustained Christianity with their work, their sweat, and occasionally, with their blood.Without being an exclusively missionary Order, the missions have been an inescapable part of the historical, spiritual and charismatic heritage of the Order. They have provided internal cohesion, corporative spirit and a living witness to its activity in the world. The Order has felt useful in the Church and society; it has enabled the religious to look beyond their inner world.

Video: The celebration of four hundred years of the Order of the Augustinian Recollects in the Americas has shown the intimate union between the mission and the growth of the Augustinian Recollection.

In the 19th century the missions saved the Order of the Augustinian Recollects from perishing amidst the historical changes, and at the beginning of the 20th century they gave the Order the necessary impulse in order to be accepted as an Order within the Church and the Augustinian family.

In the missions the life of the Augustinian Recollects was extended which has reached as far as the altars of sanctity: Magdalena de Nagasaki, Ezekiel Moreno, Francisco de Jesús, Vicente de San Antonio, Melchor de San Agustín, Martín de san Nicolás…As well as hundreds of martyrs who, throughout history, have given witness to their faith by handing over their very lives.

NEXT PAGE: c. The three stages of the Augustinian Recollect missions