Templo y Ex-Convento de San Agustín
Off-zócalo side streets are studded with Oaxaca’s old church gems. One of the most precious and most accessible is the San Agustín church and ex-convent one block due east from the Palacio de Gobierno along Calle Guerrero.
One of the few Oaxacan works of the Augustinian order, the original adobe church on this site was finished in 1596, but it was seriously damaged by subsequent earthquakes. The present church, finished in 1722, replaced the original.
A generation after the Augustinians were expelled in the 1860s, Bishop Gillow of Oaxaca acquired and reactivated the church in 1893 and started the Casa de Cuna, a children’s home and school, which still exists next door.
San Agustín’s baroque facade blooms with a pious pastoral sculpture of a bearded San Agustín, fifth-century Bishop of Hipona, North Africa, above the entrance arch. Below, flanking the entrance portal, stand sculptures of Augustinian Saints Alipio, on the left, and Thomas of Valencia, on the right.
Inside, the same saints grace the grand, gilded main altarpiece, with the addition of Augustinian founding fathers San Juan Sahagún and San Fulgencio. The gilded south (right) transept altarpiece displays a heavenly image of Santa Monica, mother of San Agustín. Finally, look below the pulpit for the glass capsule that contains a bone-fragment relic of San Agustín, gift from the Roman Augustinians.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Oaxaca, 5th edition