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 rivers named 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 this Province had no seminary of its own, but 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.
The building is entitled the Royal College of the Augustinians – known locally as “the Filipinos” - in Valladolid whence alone more than 2,000 missionaries left for the Philippines and China. 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 to fire them. 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.
The Augustinian Oriental Museum
this Augustinian monastery in Valladolid, the Oriental Museum was founded in 1908. It was given new facilities in 1980, which were opened by the king and queen of Spain, Reyes de España, Don Juan Carlos I y Doña Sofía, on 12 October 1980.
It is located within the Augustinian buildings described above. Its entrance is numbered as Paseo Filipinos, 7. 47007 Valladolid. Its extraordinary collection of Chinese and Philippine art of the previous three centuries is one of the greatest collections of Eastern art in all of Europe. The museum fills thirteen rooms, the majority displaying porcelain crafts, bronzes, the sculptures and paintings of China, as of the weapons, the ornaments, the ivories and other objets d'art coming from the Philippines and Japan.
The Museum features Oriental art, museum craft, and goldsmithing. Objects and documents originating in China and Philippines, from 2nd century to the 19th century. Buddhas, bronzes, ánforas, sumptuary art and ceramics. Caligráphic Chinese art, with religious themes. Philippine ivory carvings. Japanese art of the periods Edo (1603-1868) and Meiji (1868-1912). 310 pieces compose the Japanese collection: 28 sculptures, 78 works made in metal, 14 handwritings and paintings, 47 lacquers, 100 ceramics and porcelain, 37 arms and armour, 5 articles of dress and 1 map.
Photos (at left):
Picture 1: Museum booklet.Picture 2: Display area, Museum.Picture 3: Artifact from China.Picture 4: Artifact from China.
The Oriental Museum is the fruit of long commitment by the Order of St Augustine, first in the Far East and then in Latin America. Since 1565 until today, more than 3,000 Augustinian missionaries have been dedicated to cultural, social, human, and apostolic work in the East and in Latin America. The idea of the museum developed gradually, and in 1874 the eastern wing of the monastery was allocated for this purpose. The Oriental Museum is the result of the cultural exchange realised by the missionaries. On leaving for the missions, they carried with them images, objects, ornaments, books and other necessary utensils for the apostolate, as well as for the social and cultural promotion of their work. Many died in the missions, and many others, on their return, brought with them typical ethnological and artistic objects of the cultures wherein they worked, with the purpose of introducing these items to the youth who were in training to substitute them. At the same time, these objects also served to shed great light on the distant cultures.
Initially, the missionaries took the round trip through Mexico. From 1869 onwards, since the opening of the Suez Canal, they would take this new route. Given that the trip to the East was now shorter, more missionaries would return home. Consequently, toward the end of the 19th century, the collections of the museum increased significantly. A good number of the artistic pieces were brought to Europe for the Vatican Exposition of Missions that was held in 1925. For this purpose, the Augustinians sent to Rome collections of art originating from several countries of the East and the Latin America. Once the exposition came to a close, some pieces would be transferred to the Vatican Museums and the rest was added to the collections already existing in Valladolid.
For the last twenty years, the Oriental Museum has been enriched by sundry hundreds of works from China, Japan and the Philippines. Besides the contributions made by various Augustinians and the acquisitions made by the museum itself, a significant number of donations from the friends of the museum has enhanced the collections. Through this museum, the Augustinians share with the world the heritage of more than 400 years of their missionary history. With this cultural endeavour, the Order desires to be of service to all, and at the same time contribute positively to dialogue and peace, especially with the peoples of the Far East: in opening up and publicising, instilling and esteeming their great cultural and religious wealth.
Museum InformationTeléfonos – Telephone Tel.: 983 306 800 / 983 306 900 Fax: 983 397 896 E-mail: sestagus@adenet. es
Entrada - Cost of Entrance: General: 4 €. Gruops: 3 €
Hours of Entrance: Monday to Saturday: 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM Public holidays: 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM Monday to Saturday mornings, groups only, by prior appointment.
These details may have changed since the publication of this website.
Augustinian Oriental Museum, Valladolid. http://www.museo-oriental.es/
Web site. In the Spanish, English and French languages. http://www.museo-oriental.es/historia.asp?curr1=t
A Museum with a Difference. Written in Spanish. Good photographs from February 2010. http://domuspucelae.blogspot.com/2011/02/un-museo-diferente-museo-oriental-real.html
Valladolid: Museo Oriental. Photos taken by a visitor in August 2008. http://www.flickr.com/photos/albtotxo/2817070450
Oriental Museum, Valladolid. Photos taken by a visitor in July 2010. http://www.flickr.com/photos/chicasmalas/4846379528/in/photostream AN4264