The Augustinians reached Cochin
in 1579 and settled at Kalvetty, Mattancherry.
On 29th January 1577 Pope Gregory XIII had appointed Mattheus de Medina O.S.A. as Bishop of Cochin, and he arrived in Goa on 9th October 1579. He served as Bishop of Cochin until 1588, when he was appointed Archbishop of Goa.
In 1580 a small chapel in Cochin dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe was entrusted to their care by Bishop de Medina O.S.A.. Later on, the Augustinians built a monastery and a larger Church of Our Lady of Purification there.
Augustinians remained in India, and especially in the regions of Goa and Cochin, until the time of the Portuguese suppression of religious orders in 1834. The European-born Augustinians died out, and the native-born Augustinians were persecuted and scattered.
After 1834 no more Augustinians came from Portugal. Over ten years later, however, an Irish Augustinian
came to India as the Bishop of Madras, but he remained there for only five years.
There was then an absence of Augustinian ministry in India for well over a century.
At a General Chapter of the Order held in 1968 at Villanova University
in Philadelphia, United States of America, Agostino Trape O.S.A., who was the Prior General of the Order at that time, called for the return of the Augustinians to India.
As a consequence, Augustinians soon visited India and, with the encouragement of some local diocesan priests, a young Indian named Francis Kothakath expressed his desire to join the Order. He was sent to Manila in the Philippines for priestly studies.
After his ordination, Francis Kothakath O.S.A., the first Indian-born Augustinian for centuries, was sent back to Cochin to minister in March 1978.
(Continued on the next page.)
For Augnet pages about the invitation of the Augustinians from the king of Portugal to go to the Near East, click here