|ST. AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO, the patron saint of Baliwag, Bulacan. From |
a souvenir fiesta prayer card, 1973
The San Agustin Parish Church of Baliuag stands in the town’s poblacion, an age-old church that was counded by Spanish Agustinos in 1733. The parish was placed under the patronage of San Agustin de Hippo, as expected, and has come to be the mother church of five other parish churches in Baliwag town.
Associated with the church are three known religious images of San Agustin in varying sizes—one, a private image that used to be loaned to the church but which the family has taken to Manila; the second, a lifesize de vestir san Agustin which occupies one reredo of the church (known as San Agustin Bata), and third—the most ancient and smallest of them all—a 3 foot de bulto image that goes out on processions on the saint’s two feast days in May and August.
The third San Agustin image is also the most familiar of them all, as it has existed as far back as one can remember. Town lore has it that this church-owned image is what is brought on processions when farmers seek divine intervention to ask for more rain for better harvests.
The antique image is well-carved with just a characteristic hint of folksiness. It sports a long beard, and is leaner than your usual San Agustins that are often depicted as stockier and with a bulkier frame. As the bishop of Hippo, the saint wears a cope, a silvered metal mitre and holds a maquette of a small church, in reference his being a Doctor of the Church. He holds with his right hand a brass baculo (crozier). It is believed that the santo once owned a set of silver accessories, but the whereabouts today are not known.
Every second Sunday of May and August 28, San Agustin is taken out and is borne on his flower-decorated carroza owned by Mr. Allan Tengco, who is designated as the caretaker of Baliuag’s most revered image.
These are special days for the people of Baliuag to remember and honor their patron saint who has generously showered the town with his graces: “DAKILANG ARAW NG PAG-GUNITA KAY SAN AGUSTIN, Obispo ng Hipona, Pantas ng Simbahan, Tagapagtatag ng Orden de San Agustin (OSA), Patron ng Bayang Baliuag, ng mga Teologo, at Isang Mainam na Halimbawa ng Pagbabalik-loob sa Diyos”.
MANY THANKS to J. Alcaraz Roberto, Lance Silva, San Agustin de Baliuag Fiesta FB page, for the use of their photos.