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Spain: Valladolid - 01

St Augustine : Augustinian monastery Valladolid Spain
Augustinian monastery

Valladolid, the former capital city of Spain, has had an Augustinian presence for centuries. The word Valladolid comes from the Arabic language.

Valladolid was the Arabic city of Belad-Walid (meaning "Land of the Governor") is located at the confluence of the Río Esgueva and Río Pisuerga. It has some of the best Renaissance art and architecture in Spain.

From the 13th century until its eventual decay in the early 17th century, Valladolid was a royal city and an intellectual centre that attracted saints and philosophers. It was the home of the kings of Castile between the 12th and 17th centuries.

It was here in 1469 that Ferdinand married Isabella, joining the kingdoms of Aragón, Catalonia, Naples, Castile, and León into a united Spain. King Philip II was born there, and Columbus died there on 19th May 1506, broken in spirit and body after Isabella had died and Ferdinand refused to reinstate him as a governor of the Indies.

José Zorrilla, who in 1844 made popular the legendary Don Juan in his play was also born in the city.Spanish men were recruited to become Augustinians for the Philippine missions. A Province of the Philippines (i.e., a Province to recruit members in Spain and to minister in the Philippines and other parts of Asia) was established by the Prior General in 1575.

Initially it had no seminary of its own, and received Augustinians from the Spanish Augustinian Provinces who were permitted to volunteer for ministry in the Philippines. In 1736 permission was received from the Pope to establish a special college in Valladolid specifically to prepare such men for Augustinian ministry in the Philippines.

The monastery (convento) is of neoclassic style, the work of Luke Rodriguez. 

Construction began in 1759, but halted. The project was taken up again in 1853, when construction of the church began, but progress was very slow. By the end of the nineteenth century, under the direction of the architect, Ortiz de Urbina and following the original plans of Luke Rodriguez, the church was built as far as its cupola, and the third floor of the monastery completed. In 1927 the cupola was closed, and in 1930 the interior of the church was completed, so that it could be solemnly blessed on 4th May 1930.

In that it trained priests only for foreign missions, the monastery was exempted from the suppression by the government of every house (convento) belonging to a religious order in Spain in 1835-1837. After 1835, its forty-nine Augustinian friars were the only Augustinians officially permitted to live in community in Spain. (There were then 250 Spanish Augustinians ministering in the Philippines.) It subsequently came also to serve as a centre for the restoration of the Order in Spain.

In the monastery that is still in use, the Augustinians can indicate the stone stairways that were chipped when the soldiers of Napoleon Bonaparte hauled their canons to the upper levels of the building.

Of greater historic importance, however, is its Oriental Museum, containing rare and often unique artefacts sent back by early Spanish Augustinian missionaries to the Orient. For details, go to the next page.

(Continued on the next page.)

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