Ancient Augustinian Church in Peruvian Missions Honored by UNESCO

Written by Fr. John Lydon, O.S.A.

On April 18, the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) marked a day for the protection of historical monuments.  In Peru, to celebrate this day, each state designated one of its monuments for a "facelift" with a new coating of paint.  In the state of La Libertad, where Trujillo is the capital, for the first time a church was chosen that is not in the capital city.  The church is the ancient Augustinian church in the town of Jequetepeque, which is part of our parish of Pacasmayo.

The Augustinians established their first monastery in Jequetepeque around 1560, around 50 years before the Jamestown settlement in Virginia.  The original church was destroyed by an earthquake, but in the late 1600s the present church was built and stands in this small town (population 3,000) as a monument of colonial architecture.

Five years ago, the church was closed because the roof started to collapse.  After five years of bingos, raffles, and bake sales, the people were able to raise enough money to start restoring the roof. This work began in September; the first half of the roof has been restored to its original colonial beauty.

It will take many more years of raffles and other fundraising efforts to have the funds to continue the second half.  However, in light of the great effort of the people in such a small town which so few economic resources, the Ministry of Culture decided to designate this church to receive a new coat of paint and restore the original colonial colors to the building.  Having presided over the work for the past five years before the recent change to Trujillo, the local community requested that I return for the blessing of the new facade.  Present were all of the people in charge of the Ministry of Culture, and participating in the event were all the school children of the town, as well as the dancing horses for which the town is know in Northern Peru.  The church is called Virgin of Mercy (Virgen de la Misericordia) and the statue of the Virgin Mary, which dates to 1685, is seen in the pictures.

About the Augustinian Missions of Northern Peru

The Augustinian Order returned to serve the people of Northern Peru in 1963 at the request of St. John XXIII.  Father John Lydon, O.S.A., is one of three remaining Augustinian missionaries that has been serving there for many years.  As the number of missionaries has been decreasing the past 53 years, the number of Peruvian Augustinians has increased significantly.  Our donors help our missions in Peru by sponsoring Augustinian vocations in Peru, sponsoring the Diocese of Chulucanas, and other social justice works in impoverished parishes.  Please make a gift today and join the efforts!


Patrick Murphy

Patrick Murphy has been working with the Augustinians in fundraising and communications since 2010. He began working with the Augustinian Vocations office in 2015. He also holds a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management.