This very first Portuguese settlement on an island named Macau just off the Chinese mainland began in the year 1557. Augustinians served there from 1586 until 1712, a total of 126 years. As Portugal's first settlement on the China coast in 1557, the port of Macau was expected to be a bastion of the Christian religion as well as a trading post. They called it the "City of the Name of God, Macau".
The first settlers included priests, and some of the first buildings were churches, initially constructed of wood and matting, but later of taipa (rammed clay). From the middle of the 17th century, they built in stone and plaster. Saint Augustine's Church in Macau was originally built in 1586 by Augustinians from the Philippines attempting entry into the kingdom of China, led by Francisco Enrique O.S.A.. When their request to evangelise in China was declined by the Chinese in 1587, these missionaries returned to Manila and the church in Macau was handed over to Portuguese Augustinians. The present St Augustine's Church was built on the site in 1814 after the Augustinians' departure, and is now a UNESCO heritage protected building.
The present church (see photo above) on the same site replaced the former Augustinian church in 1814, which was 102 years after the Augustinians' expulsion from Macau. The Church spilt over the Chinese Rites controversy between Jesuits in China and Church authorities - including the Pope - in Rome, which continued for a number of years and had further consequences long afterwards. Contrary to Roman directives, the Augustinian missionaries in China supported the liberal ideas of Father Matthew Ricci S.J., and were expelled from Macau in 1712, after 126 years of ministry there.
Most other Portuguese Augustinian missions on or near the Asian sub-continent ceased when Portuguese control of those area lapsed: Hormuz (Persia, now Iran), Goa, Cochin, Bengal (Calcutta) and Sri Lanka. In contrast, the Macau mission of the Order of Saint Augustine ended because of an internal Church dispute. Members of the Order of Saint Augustine were again in Macau briefly; they were Spanish Augustinians who came from the Philippines after the revolution there in 1898.