Sunday, May 24, 2009

San Agustin's Colonial Treasures: Solid Gold Cartagloria

This solid gold sacra or cartagloria is one of the most treasured liturgical accoutrements of venerable San Agustin church in Manila. The words of the consecration are etched on a field of solid gold, and it is only brought out on the Feast of St. Augustine. After the Mass it is immediately returned to the sacristy. From the book 'San Agustin: Art and History 1571 - 2000' by Fr. Pedro Galende OSA and Regalado Trota Jose comes the following excerpt.

"... but the most precious liturgical item which has survived all these turmoils is a sacra, a plaque with the words of the Consecration, o fpure gold mounted on wood. Possibly a 17th-century piece, it formed a part of the treasure evacuated to Pampanga in 1762, just before Colonel Draper's men looted San Agustin. This sacra was brought out only for the feast of San Agustin, and immediately brought back to the vault after the ceremony. It is an excellent and exceedingly rare example of the gold which left Manila aboard Acapulco-bound galleons."

It should be remembered that, from 1762 to 1764, Manila fell under British rule. The Spanish maintained a counter government in Pampanga under the brilliant general Simon de Anda y Salazar. The convent of San Agustin, being the oldest and richest of Manila's monasteries then, was looted by the British. An unfortunate casualty of that episode in history is a 9-ft. tall monstrance made of pure silver, of which no image survives today.

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