Whatever the real intent of the church priest-designers, the castle churches are readily recognizable, and are sure evidence of the very earliest church architecture in Mexico. They certainly gave the native Mexicans a conviction that the Spanish newcomers intended their Church to be permanently present there.
Ancient Augustinian monasteries
The earliest Augustinian places on the North American continent were in Mexico over 450 years ago.
This Augnet page introduces a few of such places in Mexico.
Christian holy spaces in Mexico were created soon after the conquest by Indians working under the direction of friars - Franciscan, Dominican and Augustinian.
A very small number of friars converted millions of Indians in a short time, primarily in the thirty five years between 1525 and 1560.
As late as 1536, fifteen years after the capture of the great city of the Aztecs, Tenochtitlán, there were only about sixty members of these religious Orders in New Spain (Mexico).
In the year 1559, which was near the completion of the campaign of making the Christian religion universal in Mexico, there were still under eight hundred of them there.
As the 16th century progressed, monasteries and missions great and small arose in every Mexican town and village.
They were highly visible centres of the new Catholic religion and Spanish rule.
Today, over four hundred years later, many of these venerable buildings still stand. Within their walls are exquisite altars decorated with gold, religious sculptures and folk art.
In many cases, there were spectacular early religious murals, painted by Indian artists under the direction of members of the Order of Saint Augustine from Spain.
They have come to light in recent years, aften having been hidden for centuries beneath later layers of lime or paint.
With historical developments in Mexico during the past centuries, none of these national treasures are any longer in Augustinian possession.
There are now, however, newer Augustinian houses in some of the towns and cities in question.
(Continued on the next page.)