The Augustinian beginnings of Portugal go back to the year 1243.
There are records of a land purchase in Portugal signed by three Italians: Friar Lawrence (Prior Provincial), Paschasius Dareta (visitor general) and John Lombardo (Prior of Lisbon).
There are indications that they were Tuscan hermits, and as such would in 1244 have been part of the Little Union of eremitical (hermit) groups in Tuscany.
An actual separate Augustinian Province of Portugal appears first in documents in the year 1482, and probably began in 1476.
Prior to that eight houses of the Order in Portugal constituted a vicariate within the Province of Spain (Castile).
The Province had established three new houses before 1517. The third one of these houses had begun in 1505 on the Canary Islands.
The Province never succeeded in the special task originally given to it by the Order. This was the goal of having a house in Thagaste (now in Algeria), the birthplace of St Augustine. Today, however, the Order has a house (convento) in Hippo.
Thagaste in the year 356 had been the place of birth of Saint Augustine, after whom the Order is named.
In 1539 João (John) III, King of Portugal in 1521-1557, asked the Province of Spain (Castile), which had responsibility for the houses in Portugal, to send some holy and experienced leaders to the Province of Portugal.
The renewal of the community life in religious orders was a goal that would soon be legislated by the Council of Trent (1545-1563).
Two excellent men were sent immediately. The Prior General, Girolamo Seripando O.S.A., was in admiration of their work, which he observed when he visited Spain and Portugal in 1541.
Both of these men stayed in Portugal for the rest of their lives, which in the case of Luis de Montoya O.S.A. was to be thirty-five years.
In was in 1572 that the next Portuguese monarch, King Sebastião (Sebastian), the king in 1557-1578, successfully requested the Province of Portugal to send men to minister in the outposts of Portugal in the Near East.
By this time, their founding Province of Spain (Castile) had been sending men to Latin America for thirty nine years.
For this purpose, a group of interested Augustinians was founded, and given a degree of autonomy.
It was known as the "Congregation of the Hermits of Saint Augustine of the East Indies."
Twelve men left Lisbon in March 1572, and reached Goa off the coast of India six months later. Soon twelve other groups followed.
By the year 1650, thirty groups had gone to Africa and Asia. Already by the year 1638, about 240 members of the Order from Portugal had gone to the overseas military and trading outposts of their nation in West Africa, East Africa, Arabia, and Asia.
(Continued on the next page.)