In what follows, all that is possible is only the bare outline of the administrative history of the Order of Saint Augustine in Latin America.
It would require many more words to tell of the main participants of this history, both native and foreign, and to pay respect to the great amount of generous and dedicated labour that was involved.
In the employ of the Spanish royalty, Christopher Columbus, on his second voyage to South America in 1493, took 1,200 colonists to the island of Hispaniola, which lay near Cuba in the Greater Antilles.
European settlement and control in Latin America had thus begun.
Priests accompanied these people, but it was over thirty years before the Order of Saint Augustine was involved on this continent in any formal way.
The Augustinians were not the earliest missionaries in Latin America, nor anywhere near the most numerous religious group to be sent there and to be supported by the Spanish kings.
In their time of arrival, the number of persons sent to Latin America, and in their ultimate impact, the Order of Saint Augustine often followed in the footsteps of the Franciscans, Dominicians, and the Merecedians.*
Christopher Columbus had men of this religious order as chaplains on his voyages, as also did Ferdinand Magellan on his planned voyage around the world in 1519-1522, which neither he nor the Mercedians lived to complete.
Without intending it, some Augustinians then became the first priests to sail around the world - but that is the topic of a another page of Augnet.
The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) was founded in 1540 and came to South America between 1549 and 1553, twenty years after the Augustinians went there.
At that time the Franciscan and Dominican orders were already established in the New World, and the Order of Saint Augustine was building up its involvement.
But these orders were not destined to have the significant impact that the Society of Jesus, with its different approach, was to have on the indigenous peoples of Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Paraguay, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Guatemala and Haiti.
Through their successes with the Indians taken into their care and the resulting conflicts, the Jesuits were finally expelled from South America in 1767.
(Continued on the next page.)
Click here for Augnet's general page on King Philip II of Spain.
The Augustinians wend their way Westward. By Arthur Ennis O.S.A. Augustiniana (6), April 1956: Augustinian Historical
Louvain . pp 602-634.