Provenance: Central Luzon
This ecclesiastical armchair has a caned oval back flanked by panels of carved foliate forms surmounted by a crest of piercework floral and foliar forms featuring the ubiquitous "catmon" flowers and framing the Augustinian emblem of a flaming heart pierced by 2 arrows over an open book. From the crest descend widening arms with rope – twist detail on both sides supported by truncated balusters. The caned seat is underlined by a border of acanthus forms supported by baluster legs.
These ecclesiastical armchairs were usually polychromed, parcel – gilded, and upholstered in red velvet and passementerie as they sat in threes in the sanctuaries (altar areas) of the Roman Catholic churches. The natural wood look and caning of this armchair is a concession to modern tastes and facilitates its inclusion in rooms with contemporary architecture.
This armchair is identifiably of Augustinian origin as it prominently displays their emblem of the flaming heart pierced by 2 arrows over an open book. Augustinian priests explain that the emblem symbolizes Augustinian spirituality. The flaming heart symbolizes Augustine's love for God and his fellow brothers and sisters. The arrows represent the Spirit of God piercing the hearts of the faithful, calling them to continued growth in faith, hope, and love. The open book symbolizes the Word of God, source of light and truth and the quest for wisdom, as well as Augustine's own conversion to Christianity.
The Augustinians, known formally as the Order of Saint Augustine (founded in 1244 by hermits in Tuscany who were faithfully following the The Rule of Saint Augustine of Hippo [354 – 430 AD]), as approved by Pope Innocent IV), were the first of the Roman Catholic religious orders to reach Las Islas Filipinas in 1565. An Augustinian, Fray Andres de Urdaneta, OSA had expertly navigated the expedition of the Adelantado Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. The Augustinians established the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus in Las Islas Filipinas on 31
December 1575. From San Agustin church and convent in Intramuros, the Augustinian friars zealously traversed the length and width of the archipelago from the North (Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra, La Union) to the Central Plains (Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan), to the South (Batangas), to the Visayas (Panay, Cebu, Palawan) establishing parishes and building churches and convents in their quest to fully spread Christianity in Las Islas Filipinas in the name of "Madre Espana."
-Augusto M R Gonzalez III