AUGUSTINIAN CHURCH, LIMA
Members of the Order of Saint Augustine first reached Peru in 1548. In 1551 twelve others arrived, and established a house, which they used for 22 years.
The location of the property was unhealthy, with moist soil and contaminated water. The present Church and Convento of Saint Augustine was begun in 1574. (Officially, the church was dedicated to Our Lady of Grace, La Iglesia de Ntra. Sra. de Gracia).
The church was a changing work of art. A tower was added in 1637, later damaged by an earthquake, and pulled down when the church (except for the facade mentioned below) was generally demolished and rebuilt between 1903 and 1908.
It was of modern style with gothic elements. Provision was made for symetrical towers, which were never built. This makes the famous stone section of the façade look like it is being pressed between two large bookends.
The well-known façade was begun late in the seventeenth century, and finished in 1720. It is of stone. It is profusely carved with adornments in the churrigueresco baroque style.
Occupying pride of place in the façade is Saint Augustine, with angels at his side. Other parts of the façade depict Popes, and saints of the Order of Saint Augustine. Supplementary decoration is the carving of wreaths, leaves, flowers and fruits.
The fourth level was re-formed in 1908, not in stone but of similar style in cement.
The central cloister (clausura, patio) of the monastery (convento) has majestic arches on the ground level and on a second storey.
The upper level was adorned with thirty eight pictures of the life and works of San Agustín. These were painted by the artist, Basilio Pacheco, in the middle of the eighteenth century. He included his own image in one of the paintings.
In the central garden of the cloister is a work of art in bronze, produced by Pedro Mejía in 1765.
Photos (at right)
The facade of the Church of Saint Augustine, Lima, Peru.