The historical development of UNICERVANTES is linked to the history of the Order of San Agustín and its presence in Colombia, through the Province of Nuestra Señora de Gracia. The Order of Saint Augustine is one of the four largest Mendicant Religious Orders erected during the Middle Ages when Pope Innocent IV in 1244 grouped several convents and monasteries heirs of this Augustinian spirituality of the IV and V centuries, which had, as a rule, monastic the one written by the great thinker, Father, and Doctor of the Church Saint Augustine of Hippo.
The Order, strengthened in 1256 with the union of other groups of hermits, spread rapidly through Europe, being the protagonist of the ecclesial, academic and intellectual life that gave rise to the birth of the universities. The Augustinians contributed in a particular and decisive way to the development of the universities of Bologna, Salamanca, Paris, and Oxford. This commitment to the evangelization of culture through the universities was replicated centuries later in the missions that were established throughout America, Japan, India, and the Philippines.
As far as American lands are concerned, the illustrious university of the spiritual and cultural heritage of the Order of Saint Augustine has long been the University of Villanova in the United States. Founded in 1842, it provides a comprehensive education rooted in the liberal arts and sciences. In the specific case of our country, on April 24, 1694, Pope Innocent XII authorized the foundation of the San Nicolás de Mira University in the Maximum Convent of San Agustín, through the Bull Ex injunction Nobis and likewise, the authorization to found the Colegio Mayor de San Miguel in Santafé de Bogotá. With the Bull, many religious and Creoles have conferred the titles of Bachelors, Lectors, Teachers, and Doctors in the main formative disciplines of the moment: Sacred Theology, Philosophy, and Law; following the pontifical decretals of Sixtus V and Paul V.
The University functioned until 1861 when academic work was suspended due to the events of the liberal religious-political conflict, hostile against the Church. In the first half of the 20th century, a new stage began in the educational work of the Augustinians in Colombia with the direction of the Liceo de Cervantes in Bogotá, later in Barranquilla, and the creation of the Liceo de Cervantes El Retiro, which until today carry out a recognized academic training of tradition and quality.