San Agustin Museum: Four centuries of faith, art and history

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Liturgical vestments in the Antigua Sacristia

An exquisitely crafted 19th-century gold chalice in the Antigua Sacristia

Located in the center of Intramuros, the San Agustin Museum has for over four decades served as the country’s premier ecclesiastical museum.

The museum is housed in the Augustinians’ former monastery, right beside the famed San Agustin Church. First built in the late 16th century, the museum building has undergone numerous renovations over the years, including extensive restoration after World War II left it in near ruin, and a more recent renovation.

Today, a thoroughly modernized San Agustin utilizes advanced technology to protect and display its exhibits.

Inside, the visitor can view religious works from the Spanish colonial period in all their splendor. Galleries lining the museum’s ancient corridors feature four centuries’ worth of artifacts, from enormous, intricately carved cabinets used to store the clergy’s silken vestments, to priceless chalices and reliquaries made of precious metals and encrusted with gemstones. With every turn, a visitor to San Agustin will come across something beautiful, interesting, or even surprising.

But beyond displaying artworks and artifacts, San Agustin also strives to preserve the story of the Augustinians. In narrating the friars’ rich and colorful history, the museum prevents their names, lives and invaluable contributions from being lost in the tangled narratives of the country’s past.

Given its extensive collection and historical value, it is no wonder why San Agustin Museum is a magnet for lovers of both art and history. With its quaint and peaceful surroundings, it also offers refuge from the chaos of the city.

Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, a visitor to San Agustin Museum can expect to be enriched by the experience, whether by expanding one’s knowledge on the Filipinos’ Catholic heritage, developing deeper respect for man’s creative capacity, or simply finding inspiration in the beauty of the works. —CONTRIBUTED

San Agustin Museum is at San Agustin Church, General Luna St., Intramuros, Manila; open 8 a.m.-12 p.m., 1 p.m.-5 p.m. . Call 7146889. Fee: P200; P160 for kids, students, seniors.

Delicately carved ivory fan in the Sala Recebidor

18th-century Baroque altar in the Refectorio

View of the Refectorio

Merchandise commonly transported during the galleon trade

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