You Might Like
Order of Saint Augustine
Order of Saint Augustine

The Order of Saint Augustine (Latin: Ordo sancti Augustini, abbreviated as OSA; historically Ordo eremitarum sancti Augustini, OESA, the Order of Hermits of Saint Augustine), generally called Augustinians or Austin Friars (not to be confused with the Augustinian Canons Regular), is a Catholic religious order. It was founded in 1244 by bringing together several eremetical orders in the Tuscany region who were following the Rule of St. Augustine, written by St. Augustine of Hippo in the 5th Century.

In its establishment in its current form, it was shaped as a mendicant order, one of the four great orders which follow that way of life. The order has done much to extend the influence of the Church, to propagate the Roman Catholic Faith and to advance learning. The order has, in particular, spread internationally the veneration of the Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of Good Counsel (Mater boni consilii).[2]


Augustine of Hippo, first with some friends and afterward as bishop with his clergy, led a monastic community life. Religious vows were not obligatory, but the possession of private property was prohibited. Their manner of life led others to imitate them. Instructions for their guidance were found in several writings of Augustine, especially in De opere monachorum (P.L., XL, 527), mentioned in the ancient codices regularum of the eighth or ninth century as the "Rule of St. Augustine". Epistola ccxi, otherwise cix (P.L., XXXIII, 958), contains the early "Augustinian Rule for Nuns"; Epistolae ccclv and ccclvi (P.L., mmmlxv, 3065) "De moribus clericorum". Between 430 and 570 this life-style was carried to Europe by monks and clergy fleeing the persecution of the Vandals.[3] This system of life for cathedral clergy continued in various locations throughout Europe for centuries.

As the first millennium came to an end, the fervor of this life began to wane, and the cathedral clergy began to live independently of one another.

Around the start of the 13th century, many eremetical communities, especially in the vicinity of Siena, Italy, sprang up. These were often small (no more than ten) and composed of laymen, thus they lacked the clerical orientation of the canons. Their foundational spirit was one of solitude and penance. With time, some of the communities adopted a more outward looking way of life. As the number of hermit-priests increased, assisting the local clergy in providing spiritual care for their neighbors became a larger part of their lives. In 1223 four of the communities around Siena joined in a loose association, which had increased to thirteen within five years.

The Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 issued the decree Ne nimium to organise these small groups of religious people by requiring them to live in community, to hold elective chapters, to be under obedience to a major superior and to adopt one of the Rules of community life that were approved by the Church.

The Augustinian friars came into being as part of the mendicant movement of the 13th century, a new form of religious life which sought to bring the religious ideals of the monastic life into an urban setting which allowed the religious to serve the needs of the People of God in an apostolic capacity.

On 15 July 1255, Pope Alexander IV issued the bull, Cum quaedam salubria, to command a number of religious groupings to gather for the purpose of being amalgamated into a new Order of Hermits of Saint Augustine. The delegates from other small religious communities met in Rome on 1 March 1256, which resulted in a union. Lanfranc Septala of Milan, Prior of the Bonites, was appointed the first Prior General of the newly constituted Order. The belted, black tunic of the Tuscan hermits was adopted as the common religious habit, and the walking sticks carried by the Bonites in keeping with eremetical tradition—and to distinguish themselves from those hermits who went around begging—ceased to be used.[5]

On 9 April 1256 Pope Alexander IV issued the bull Licet Ecclesiae catholicae (Bullarium Taurinense, 3rd ed., 635 sq.) which confirmed the integration of the Hermits of John the Good (Rule of St. Augustine, 1225), the Hermits of St. William (Rule of St. Benedict), the Hermits of Brettino (Rule of St. Augustine, 1228), the Hermits of Monte Favale (Rule of St. Benedict), other smaller congregations and the Tuscan Hermits into what was officially called the Order of Hermits of Saint Augustine.[3]

Special constitutions were drawn up for its government, on the same lines as the Dominicans and other mendicants—a general elected by chapter, provincials to rule in the different countries, with assistants, definitors and visitors. For this reason, and because almost from the beginning the term "hermits" became a misnomer (for they abandoned the deserts and lived conventually in towns), they ranked among the friars, and became the fourth of the mendicant orders. The observance and manner of life was, relatively to those times, mild, meat being allowed four days in the week.[6]

Ecclesiastical privileges were granted to the order almost from its beginning. Alexander IV freed the order from the jurisdiction of the bishops; Innocent VIII, in 1490, granted to the churches of the order indulgences such as can only be gained by making the Stations at Rome; Pope Pius V placed the Augustinians among the mendicant orders and ranked them next to the Carmelites. Since the end of the 13th century the sacristan of the Papal Palace was always to be an Augustinian friar, who would be ordained as a Bishop. This privilege was ratified by Pope Alexander VI and granted to the Order forever by a Bull issued in 1497. The holder of the office was Rector of the Vatican parish (of which the chapel of St. Paul is the parish church). To his office also belonged the duty of preserving in his oratory a consecrated Host, which had to be renewed weekly and kept in readiness in case of the pope's illness, when it was the privilege of the papal sacristan to administer the last sacraments to the pope. The sacristan had always to accompany the pope when he traveled, and during a conclave it was he who celebrated Mass and administered the sacraments. He lived at the Vatican with a sub-sacristan and three lay brothers of the order (cf. Rocca, "Chronhistoria de Apostolico Sacrario", Rome, 1605). Augustinian friars, as of 2009, still perform the duties of papal sacristans, but the appointment of an Augustinian bishop-sacristan lapsed under Pope John Paul II with the retirement of Petrus Canisius Van Lierde in 1991. In papal Rome the Augustinian friars always filled one of the Chairs of the Sapienza University, and one of the consultorships in the Congregation of Rites.

The value set upon learning and science by the Augustinian friars is demonstrated by the care given to their missionary work, their libraries and by the historic establishment of their own printing-press in their convent at Nuremberg (1479), as well as by the numerous learned individuals produced by the order.

The Augustinians followed the Portuguese flag in Africa and the Gulf behind the explorer and seafarer Vasco da Gama.[7] Nikolaus Teschel (d. 1371), auxiliary Bishop of Ratisbon, where he died, with some brethren preached the Gospel in Africa. He had sailed from Lisbon in 1497, and arrived at Mozambique in March 1498. Portuguese Augustinians also worked on the island of Sao Tome, in Warri (Nigeria) and in what is now known as Angola, the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon up until 1738. The Portuguese also took control of the port of Goa in India—giving the Augustinians a foothold there also. Besides the early Portuguese Augustinians, other Augustinian missionaries have since followed to Africa from America, Ireland, Belgium and Australia.

The North American foundation of the order occurred in 1796 when Irish friars founded Olde St. Augustine's Church in Philadelphia.[8] Michael Hurley was the first American to join the order the following year. Friars established schools, Universities and other works throughout the Americas, including Villanova University (1842) near Philadelphia and Merrimack College (1947) near Boston.

Secondary schools in the United States included:

From 1925 and later during the Great Depression German Augustinians began arriving in North America to teach. After 1936, with the political situation in Nazi Germany worsening, more German Augustinians departed for North America. By 1939 from there were 46 German priests, 13 German religious brothers and 8 German candidates in North America. The order established the first of their Canadian houses at Tracadie, Nova Scotia in Canada in 1938. Among other Canadian foundations, the order also established a significant priory and school King City, Ontario, near Toronto. Since 2006, it has since professed many native Canadians.[9]

  • Latest Statistics:

As of 2006 there were more than 70 Augustinian priories in the United States and Canada with 386 friars[10] in solemn vows and 16 in simple vows.

Sent by their Provincial St.Thomas

Spanish Augustinians first went to Peru in 1551. From there they went to Ecuador in 1573, and from Ecuador in 1575 to Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Panama and Venezuela. The order founded the Ecuadorean University of Quito in 1586. Augustinians also entered Argentina via Chile between 1617 and 1626, and their history there was eventful. The order had considerable property confiscated by the Argentinian government under the secularisation laws in the 19th century, and were entirely suppressed for 24 years until 1901 when they returned. The Augustinian Province of the Netherlands later also founded houses in Bolivia from 1930.

In 1962, Pope John XXIII, presently known as St. John XXIII, asked for religious orders in the United States to send 10% of their members to evangelize Latin America. He later specifically invited the Augustinians of the Midwest Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel, headquartered near Chicago, to care for missionary territory in Northern Peru. The Augustinians accepted the invitation and began their missionary service in 1964. Their primary assignment was to the newly created Prelature of Chulucanas, which was later erected to become the Roman Catholic Diocese of Chulucanas. The diocese split what was once the Eastern territory of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Piura. The Augustinians also began new service in the nation's capital of Lima.[12]

The Provincia Michoacanensis had about 55 members, while the Provincia Mexicana had 31, most of whom are priests.

In the Republic of Colombia, 26 members of the Philippine province were employed in 1900, including 6 at the residence of Santa Fe de Bogotá, 8 in the college at Facatativa, and 12 at other stations.

The Augustinian settlements in Brazil of the 19th century then belonged to the Philippine province.

  • Latest Statistics:

In the year 2000 in Central and South America,[13] the Augustinians remain established in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela as well three Peruvian Vicariates of Iquitos, Apurímac and Chulucanas, and the Province of Peru.

By the early 20th century, the Augustinians established missions in Oceania and Australia.

In Australia the Augustinians were established in the ecclesiastical Province of Melbourne and in the Vicariate Apostolic of Cooktown, Queensland, with twelve priests of the Irish province under Monsignor James D. Murray. The order has furnished some prominent bishops to Australia, e.g. Irishman James Alipius Goold. The Irish Augustinian college of St. Patrick at Rome, built in 1884 by Patrick Glynn, under a rector, was then the training college for the Augustinian missions.

James Alipius Goold had been the first Augustinian to arrive in the Australian colonies in 1838.

Goold began his missionary work in Sydney under Archbishop John Bede Polding, becoming parish priest at Campbelltown. Goold went on in 1848 to become the founding bishop and first Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. He also commenced the design and construction of its Neo-Gothic Cathedral. Despite's Goold's initial desire to establish immediately an Australian branch of the order, the first Australian Augustinian was not ordained until 1940, and the Australian Province was not formally established as separate from its Irish founding province until 1952.

The Irish Augustinian friars formally accepted responsibility in 1884 for the part of Queensland that became the Diocese of Cairns, and the first Australian priory was founded at Echuca, Victoria in 1886. Priories were established at Rochester in 1889 and Kyabram in 1903. The order worked at different times in the colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, taking part in some critical moments of the settlement and establishment of modern Australia. Charles O'Hea O.S.A. baptized Ned Kelly. Matthew Downing O.S.A. tried to calm the miners who were part of the Eureka Stockade in 1854. The order also supplied a number of the other early Australian bishops including Martin Crane O.S.A. and Stephen Reville O.S.A both in Sandhurst (Bendigo) John Heavey O.S.A. (Cairns), John Hutchinson O.S.A (Cooktown), and James Murray O.S.A (Cooktown).

The order presently conducts parishes, two schools (one established 1948 in Brisbane, the other established 1956 in Sydney), St John Stone House (a centre for Augustinian Spirituality), a formation centre, and special ministries such as palliative care, HIV/AIDS ministry, and Aboriginal ministry.

Associated orders such as the St John of God Brothers (arrived Australia 1947 and established mental health services) and the Filipino Augustinian Sisters of our Lady of Consolation also established an Australian house in the 1990s.

  • Latest Statistics:

As of 2006 there were 11 other Augustinian priories in Australia[15] with 36 friars in solemn vows, and one in simple vows.

The Augustinian Delegation of Papua has operated since 1953.

The order of friars and affiliated orders are growing in the Indonesian territories.

Two Dutch Augustinian friars re-established the order in Papua (now Indonesia) in 1953 while it was still a Dutch colony. In 1956 the order took responsibility for the area that was to become the Diocese of Manokwari. As of 2006, the Augustinian Vicariate of Indonesia has 15 friars in solemn profession, and 7 in simple vows. It is now predominantly Papuan.

The order of friars and affiliated orders are growing in Indonesia.

The Augustinian friars were the first Christian missionaries to arrive in what is now regarded as Asia's only Catholic nation, and the leader of these first missionaries was the navigator Andrés de Urdaneta (1498 – June 3, 1568, Mexico), an Augustinian friar. He was navigator on the journey that established the first permanent Spanish settlement in the Philippines. The historic Augustinian Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus of the Philippines was officially formed on December 31, 1575 as an offshoot of the establishment of the first permanent Spanish settlements. San Agustín Church and Monastery in Manila became the centre of Augustinian efforts to evangelise the Philippines. Herrera wrote a poetical life of Jesus in the Tagalog language in 1639.

Cipriano Navarro's important work on "The Inhabitants of the Philippines" and a monumental work in six volumes entitled "La Flora de Filipinas" (Madrid, 1877– ), are valuable contributions to literature and learning on the Philippines.

Arguably, the most energetic missionary activity of the Augustinian Order has been displayed in the Philippine Islands.

Augustinian friars made researches in the languages of the Philippine Islands including Diego Bergano, and José Sequi (d. 1844), a prominent missionary of the order who baptized 30,000 people.

In 1575, under the leadership of Alfonso Gutierez, twenty-four Spanish Augustinians landed in the islands and, with the respective provincials Diego de Herrera and Martin de Rado, worked very successfully, at first as wandering preachers.

Religious orders suffered persecution in the Philippines at the end of the 19th century, especially the Augustinians.

The Order in the 21st century still has responsibility for one of the oldest churches in the Philippines, the Basilica del Santo Niño de Cebu in Cebu. Before the Philippine Revolution of 1898, which accelerated the separation of church and state in the Philippines, the Augustinians conducted more than 400 schools and churches there and had pastoral care for some 2,237,000 Filipinos, including 328 village missions. The Philippine Revolution of 1896 cost the order its heaviest losses in the entire 19th century, breaking the historic connection with, or destroying the majority of its established works there. This included the removal of friars from 194 parishes, the capture of 122 friars by Filipino revolutionaries and the deprivation of income from 240 friars. Many Spanish Augustinians were forced to leave the country for Spain or Latin America, repopulating the Augustinian houses in Spain and reinforcing Augustinian missionary work in South America.

In 1904 members of the order belonging to the Philippine province established the University of San Agustin in Iloilo City, Philippines. They have also since established schools such as the Colegio San Agustin-Bacolod in Negros Occidental (1962), the Colegio San Agustin, Makati (1969) and the Colegio San Agustin, Biñan in Biñan, Laguna (1985). In 1968 friars of the Philippine province re-established the Augustinian presence on the Indian subcontinent.

In 2004 the all-Filipino Augustinian Province of Cebu celebrated its twentieth year of existence.

The Order of friars is again growing in the Philippines.

The first Western major work on the history of China was by Augustinian friar Juan González de Mendoza. It was a description of a visit to China by three others (including another Augustinian friar), and included the first known depiction of Chinese characters in Western publishing. In 1585 he published it at Rome in Spanish.

Martin de Hereda and Hieronymus penetrated into the interior of China in 1577, to study Chinese literature with the intention of bringing it into Europe.

In about 1681, the Filipino Augustinian Alvaro de Benevente arrived in China and established the first of the Augustinian houses in China at Kan-chou. Benevente was made bishop and became head of the newly created Vicariate of Kiang-si in 1699. The Augustinian missionaries had success in propagating Catholicism, but in 1708, during the Chinese Rites controversy they were forced to withdraw from China. Portuguese Augustinians also served in the colonial port of Macau from 1586 until 1712.

In 1879 Spanish Augustinians[18] from Manila (Elias Suarez and Agostino Villanueva) entered China to re-establish an Augustinian mission.

In 1891 there were only 219 Christians and 11 catechumens, as well as 29 schools, with 420 children and 750 orphans.

All foreign missionaries were expelled or imprisoned from 1953 by the Communist government.

  • Latest Information:

Since the re-unification of the former colonies of Macau and Hong-Kong with the central Chinese government and further developments in government religious policy, Roman Catholicism in China—including clergy, Roman Catholic bishops, and a Cardinal—once again exists openly alongside the members of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and their co-religionists in the continuing underground Church.

The Augustinian have recently re-established friendly relations with Chinese educational organisations through school-placement programmes[19] as well as through the University of the Incarnate Word Chinese campus founded by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.

While there are Chinese Augustinian friars, there is not yet a priory in mainland China re-established.

After an extensive period of expansion in India from the 15th century[20] the Portuguese Augustinians had not only established the order but also provided sixteen Indian bishops between 1579 and 1840.

However, the Augustinians were re-established by Andrés G. Niño, OSA, Spanish Augustinian, named coordinator of the project by the General Chapter of the Order in 1971.... (cf., Estudio Agustiniano, 45 (2010) 279-303)....... and the Indian Augustinians took on further responsibilities in Kerala in 2005.[21] The Indian delegation currently has 16 ordained friars and 8 in simple vows. The order is growing numerically in India.

The missionary history of Iran (Persia) also mentions the Augustinians.

Despite a vigorous early Christian foundation in Nagasaki by Jesuits, Franciscans and Filipino Augustinians[22] and the many 17th century Japanese Augustinian martyrs [67], the earlier Augustinian mission attempts eventually failed after the repression of Tokugawa Hidetada (ruled 1605–1623; second Tokugawa shogun of Japan) and the expulsion of Christians under Tokugawa Iemitsu (ruled 1623 to 1651; third Tokugawa shogun of Japan).

The Augustinian missions in the Philippines provided missionaries for the East since their first establishment.

However, American Augustinian friars returned to Japan in 1954, symbolically establishing their first priory in 1959 at Nagasaki (also site of the second atomic bomb dropped on August 13, 1945). They then established priories in Fukuoka (1959), Nagoya (1964), and Tokyo (1968). As of 2006, there are seven United States Augustinian friars and five Japanese Augustinian friars.

Early Japanese Augustinian leaders, including St Magdalen of Nagasaki [69] and St Thomas Jihyoe [70] are venerated as saints.

The Augustinian Recollects are also present in Korea, but for the Augustinian friars, the Region of Korea was founded in 1985 by Australian, English and Scottish friars. Filipinos later replaced the UK friars. As of 2006 there are 5 Koreans professed in the order and 12 in formation.[24] The order of friars is growing numerically in Korea.

  • Latest Statistics:

As of 2006 (and not counting Spanish Augustinian priories) there were more than 21 other Augustinian houses across the Philippines, India, Korea, Japan, and Indonesia, with more than 140 friars[10] in solemn vows and more than 40 in simple vows. The order of friars is growing in Asia.

In its most flourishing state at the beginning of the 14th century AD, the order in Europe had forty-two provinces (besides the two vicariates of India and Moravia) with 2,000 monasteries and about 30,000 members.[25] The Canons Regular and the Augustinian Recollects also have considerable history in Europe.

  • Latest statistics:

As of 2006 there were 148 active Augustinian priories in Europe, including Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Ireland, England, Scotland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Spanish houses in the Philippines.

In England and Ireland of the 14th century the Augustinian order had had over 800 friars, but these priories had declined (for other reasons) to around 300 friars before the anti-clerical laws of the Reformation Parliament and the Act of Supremacy. The friaries were dispersed from 1538 in the dissolution of monasteries during the English Reformation. The martyr St John Stone was one of the few British Augustinians to publicly defy the will of Henry VIII in this matter.[26] The partial List of monasteries dissolved by Henry VIII of England alone includes 19 Augustinian houses.

The Augustinians were re-established in England in the 1860s with the creation - in Hoxton Square, London, N1 - of the Augustinian Priory, church and school of St Monica (architect: E. W. Pugin) built 1864-66.[27]

Clare Priory – one of the houses dissolved by King Henry VIII – was re-acquired by the order in 1953, with help from the family who then owned it.

A significant Augustinian missionary college was established at the former Spanish capital of Valladolid [71] in 1759—and this house was exempted from the suppression of monastic houses in Spain c.1835, later becoming the centre of restoration for the order in Spain.

As of 2006 there were 177 Spanish Augustinian friars, with 23 in simple profession.[[CITE|undefined|§ion=whe]]

The English Province of the Order of Saint Augustine founded their first house in Dublin some time before 1280, and for a considerable time the Augustinians of Ireland were all English, effectively serving the English settlers in Ireland.

In Ireland after the Reformation Parliament that began in 1529, the Augustinian houses in Leinster, Munster, Dublin, Dungarvan and Drogheda were soon suppressed. The houses in Ardnaree, Ballinrobe, Ballyhaunis, Banada and Murrisk managed to remain functioning until 1610. By decree in 1542 the English parliament had allowed the Augustinian community at Dunmore in County Galway, Ireland to continue. After 1610 the Dunmore community was the only surviving foundation, and in 1620 the Irish Province of the Augustinians was given pastoral charge of both England (where all houses had been forcibly closed) and Ireland. Irish Augustinian students were sent to the Continent to study, and the Irish Augustinians continued their work in Ireland under the harsh English Penal laws designed to protect the establishment of the Church of England. A number were executed—including William Tirry[29] OSA (executed 1654 for saying mass). In 1656, in response to the persecution at home, Pope Alexander VII established the Irish Augustinians in Rome in the church and priory of San Matteo in Merulana. Many Augustinians though remained in Ireland. One such Bishop John Sleyne O.S.A was administrator in commendam and last Prior of Ballybeg Priory. In 1751 Augustine Cheevers, an Irish Augustinian, was made Bishop of Ardagh. Others left to work in America and after the 1830s to Australia. After the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, the order began to re-organise more openly in Ireland. The Irish friars took the order back to England, establishing a priory at Hoxton, London in 1864. They further turned their attention to Nigeria, Australia, America and missionary work. The contemporary Irish order conducts parishes, a school in Dungarvan (founded 1874), a school in New Ross and special ministries in Ireland.

Contemporary Ireland is undergoing rapid change, and this presents challenges to the order there.

Many European Augustinian priories and foundations suffered serious setbacks (including suppression and destruction) from the various periods of anti-clericalism during the Reformation and other historical events such as the French Revolution, the Spanish civil war (among more than 6,000 clergy, 155 Spanish Augustinians were killed),[30] the two World Wars and Communist repression.

The order of friars in Spain and France has had an eventful history, from being part of the Grand Union, through the periods of extensive Spanish colonisation, the French Revolution, the effects of the Napoleonic wars, the War of the Spanish Succession, suppression of the order, the Spanish Civil War, and then Francisco Franco.

The successful German branch, which until 1299 was counted as one province, was then divided into four provinces.

Reforms were also introduced into the extra-German branches of the order, but a long time after Proles's reform and in connection with the Counter-Reformation of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Augustinian credentials of Martin Luther did not prevent anti-clerical attacks on the order during the Reformation, and neither did it enhance the order's political influence within the Catholic Church during the Counter-Reformation.

A number of mathematicians, astronomers, and musicians are also found among the members of the order, but it was the great scientist Johann Gregor Mendel, abbot of the Czech monastery of St. Thomas at Old Brno in Moravia (d. 1884) who gave great credit to the Augustinian Order's scholarship in the 19th century. He was the discoverer of the Mendelian laws of heredity and hybridization.

Given that the Roman Catholic Church in the Western world has been experiencing a decline in vocations to the priesthood and religious life since the 1960s, a relatively simple way to assess the vigour of this order is to compare the numbers of those in solemn profession (vows) with those in simple profession. For a mendicant order such as the Augustinians, the most formal and significant commitments are the permanent and lifelong vows of Solemn profession. Ordination is considered a separate matter, and though most are, the Augustinian friar may or may not be ordained priest or deacon. Those in simple profession are the newer members of the order, but have agreed to make a serious commitment (temporary, but with a view to permanent commitment), and been formally accepted as suitable by senior members of the order to make that formal commitment. The figures quoted do not include aspirants to the order who have not reached the significant step of simple profession. The details of the median age of friars in respective national grouping is another way of assessing the vigour of the order, but these details are not included here. They may be found on the order's international website. Likewise, the growth of lay organisations of Augustinian spirituality is another (less-precise) way of measuring the vigour of the order.

The Bull "Licet ecclesiae catholicae" mentions the hermit convents that had been invited to take part in the proceedings at Rome, in 1256, which led to the union.

  • The Williamites, founded by St. William of Maleval shortly before his death in 1157. From this congregation sprang two others, the principal houses being at Stabulum Rodis, in the valley of Maleval, and at Fabali on Monte Fabali. The mode of life, originally very severe, was mitigated by Pope Gregory IX, under whom the majority of the Williamite monasteries adopted the Rule of St. Benedict. When these were required by the Bull "Licet ecclesiae catholicae" to join the new order, they raised objections and obtained a prohibition to exchange the Benedictine Rule for the milder one of the Augustinians. (See Guil. De Waha, "Explanatio vitae S. Guillelmi Magni" etc., 1693; "Acta Sanct. Boll.", Feb., II, 450 sqq.; "Kirchenlex.", 2nd ed., XII, 1609 sqq.)
  • Several unspecified houses of the Order of St. Augustine, established chiefly in Italy, and forming separate congregations.
  • The Bonites, so called from their founder, Blessed John Buoni, a member of the Buonuomini family, born about 1168 in Mantua.
  • The Brittinians (Brictinians), so called from their oldest foundation, that of St. Blasius de Brittinis, near Fano, in the Marche district of Ancona. Many congregations, such as the Brothers of Penance of Christ (Saccati, or "Sack-bearers"), the foundations of Durandus of Huesca (Osca), and those of the "Catholic Poor", united with the Bonites.

The Hermits of St. Augustine spread rapidly, partly because they did not radiate from a single parent monastery, and partly because, after violent conflicts in the previously existing congregations, the active life was finally adopted by the greater number of communities, following the example of the Friars Minor and the Dominicans.

This modern Latin Rite branch is active in society (i.e. not enclosed) and it is counted comprehensively in the article below. It is headed by the international Prior-General in Rome, and while spiritually and historically connected is now canonically separate from the other Independent Augustinian communities such as the Discalced Augustinians, Augustinian nuns, and the Augustinian Recollects.

The modern order of friars (Under the Prior General in Rome) is associated with the United Nations as a Non-Governmental Organization and maintains a full-time representative to the United Nations. Worldwide there are nearly 2,800 Augustinian friars working in:

  • Algeria
  • Argentina
  • Austria
  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Benin
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Dem. Rep. Congo
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Czech Republic
  • Dominican Republic
  • England
  • Ecuador
  • France
  • Germany
  • Guinea
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Kenya
  • Madagascar
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • Nicaragua
  • Nigeria
  • Panama
  • Papua
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Puerto Rico
  • Scotland
  • Spain
  • South Korea
  • Tanzania
  • Togo
  • United States
  • Uruguay
  • Vatican City
  • Venezuela

Around 1,500 women live in Augustinian enclosed convents in:

  • Bolivia
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Ecuador
  • Italy
  • Kenya
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • United States

In the fourteenth century, owing to various causes such as the mitigation of the rule—either by permission of the pope, or through a lessening of fervour, but chiefly because of the Plague and the Great Western Schism—discipline became relaxed in the Augustinian monasteries; and so reformers emerged who were anxious to restore it. These reformers were themselves Augustinians and instituted several reformed congregations, each having its own vicar-general (vicarius-generalis), but all under the control of the general of the order.

The most important of these congregations of the "Regular Observants" were those of Illiceto, in the district of Siena, established in 1385. They initially had 12, and subsequently 8, convents. St. John ad Carbonariam (founded c. 1390) had 14 convents, Perugia (1491), had 11, and the Lombardic Congregation (1430) had 56. The Congregation of the Spanish Observance (1430) included all the Castilian monasteries from 1505. The reform of Monte Ortono near Padua (1436) had 6 convents, the Regular Observants of the Blessed Virgin at Genoa (also called Our Lady of Consolation (c. 1470) had 25. The Regular Observants of Apulia (c. 1490) had 11; the Congregation of Zampani in Calabria (1507) had 40. The German (or Saxon) Congregation (1493) flourished; the Dalmatian Congregation (1510) had 6, the Congregation of the Colorites (of Monte Colorito in Calabria (1600) had 11. At Centorbio in Sicily (1590) there were 18, and the "Little Augustinians" of Bourges, France (c. 1593) had 20. The Spanish, Italian and French congregations of Discalced, or Barefooted, Augustinians were successful (see below), and the Congregation del Bosco in Sicily established in the year 1818 had 3 convents.

Among these reformed congregations, besides those of the Barefooted Augustinians, the most important was the German (Saxon) Congregation.

Johann von Staupitz, his successor as vicar of the congregation, followed in his footsteps. Staupitz had been prior at Tübingen, then at Munich, and had taken a prominent part in founding the University of Wittenberg in 1502, where he became a professor of theology and the first dean of that faculty. He continued to reform the order with the zeal of Proles, as well as in his spirit and with his methods. He collected the "Constitutiones fratrum eremitarum S. August. ad apostolicorum privilegiorum formam pro Reformatione Alemanniae", which were approved in a chapter held at Nuremberg in 1504. A printed copy of these is still to be seen in the university library of Jena. Supported by the general of the order, Aegidius of Viterbo, he obtained a papal brief (15 March 1506), granting independence under their own vicar-general to the reformed German congregations and furthermore, 15 December 1507, a papal Bull commanding the union of the Saxon province with the German Congregation of the Regular Observants. All the Augustinian convents of Northern Germany were, in accordance with this decree, to become parts of the regular observance. But when, in 1510, Staupitz commanded all the hermits of the Saxon province to accept the regular observance on pain of being punished as rebels, and to obey him as well as the general of the order, and, on 30 September, published the papal Bull at Wittenberg, seven convents refused to obey, among them that of Erfurt, of which Martin Luther was a member—Luther seems to have gone to Rome on this occasion as a representative of the rebellious monks.

Because of this appeal to Rome, the consolidation did not take place.

Many Augustinians in Germany opposed the Reformation by their writings and their sermons, such as Bartholomäus Arnoldi of Usingen (d. 1532 at Würzburg), who for thirty years was professor at Erfurt and one of Luther's teachers, Johannes Hoffmeister (d. 1547), Wolfgang Cappelmair (d. 1531) and Konrad Treger (d. 1542).

The chief house of the order remains the International College of St. Monica at Rome, Via S. Uffizio No. 1.

In 1331 Pope John XXII had appointed the Augustinian Hermits guardians of the tomb of St. Augustine in the Church of S. Pietro in Ciel d'Oro at Pavia. They were driven from there in 1700, and evacuated to Milan. Their priory was destroyed in 1799, the church desecrated, and the remains of St. Augustine were taken back to Pavia and placed in its cathedral. The church of S. Pietro was restored, and on 7 October 1900, the body of the saint and Doctor of the church was removed from the cathedral and replaced in San Pietro—an event commemorated in a poem by Pope Leo XIII. The Augustinians were subsequently restored their old church of S. Pietro.

The Order of St Augustine, while following the rule known as that of St. Augustine, are also subject to the Constitutions drawn up by Augustinus Novellus (d. 1309), prior general of the order from 1298 to 1300, and by Clement of Osimo.[31] The Rule and Constitutions were approved at the general chapter held at Florence in 1287 and at Ratisbon in 1290.

The government of the order is as follows: At the head is the prior general.

The choir and outdoor dress of the monks is of black woollen material, with long, wide sleeves, a black leather cincture and a long pointed capuche reaching to the cincture. The indoor dress consists of a black habit with capuche and cincture. In many Augustinian houses white is used in Summer and also worn in public, usually in places where there were no Dominicans. Shoes and out of doors (prior to Vatican II) a black hat or biretta completed the habit.

As of 2006 there were 148 active Augustinian priories in Europe, including Germany, Belgium, Poland, Ireland, England, Scotland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Malta, Spain and Spanish houses in the Philippines.

As of 2006 there were more than 70 Augustinian priories in the United States and Canada with 386 friars[10] in solemn vows and 16 in simple vows.

As of 2006, there were more than 30 other Augustinian priories in Nigeria, Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Algeria, with over 85 friars[10] in solemn vows, and more than 60 in simple vows. There are also Augustinians working in the Republic of Benin, Togo, Madagascar, Guinea and Burkina.

The Augustinian order in the Region of Korea was founded in 1985 by Australian, English and Scottish friars. Filipinos later replaced the UK friars. As of 2006 there are 5 Koreans professed in the order and 12 in formation.[24]

As of 2006 there were 11 Augustinian priories in Australia[15] with 36 friars in solemn vows, and one in simple vows.

As of 2006 (and not counting Spanish Augustinian priories) there were more than 21 other Augustinian houses across the Philippines, India, Korea, Japan, and Indonesia, with more than 140 friars[10] in solemn vows and more than 40 in simple vows.

The work of Augustinians

The work of the Augustinians includes teaching, scientific study, parish and pastoral work (cure of souls) and missions.

The history of education makes frequent mention of Augustinians who distinguished themselves particularly as professors of philosophy and theology at the great universities of Salamanca, Coimbra, Alcalá, Padua, Pisa, Naples, Oxford, Paris, Vienna, Prague, Würzburg, Erfurt, Heidelberg, and Wittenberg, amongst others. Others taught successfully in the schools of the order, which controlled a number of secondary schools, colleges, and other educational institutions. In 1685 the Bishop of Würzburg, Johann Gottfried II, confided to the care of the Augustinians the parish and the gymnasium of Munnerstadt in Lower Franconia (Bavaria), a charge that they still retain; connected with the monastery of St. Michael in that place is a monastic school, while the seminary directed by the Augustinians forms another convent, that of St. Joseph. From 1698 to 1805 there existed an Augustinian gymnasium at Bedburg in the district of Cologne. The order possesses altogether fifteen colleges, academies and seminaries in Italy, Spain and America. The chief institutions of this kind in Spain are that at Valladolid and that in the Escorial.

The particular devotional practices connected with the Augustinian Order, and which it has striven to propagate, include the veneration of the Blessed Virgin under the title of "Mother of Good Counsel" (Mater Boni Consilii), whose miraculous picture is to be seen in the Augustinian church at Genazzano in the Roman province.

Besides this devotion, the order traditionally fostered the Archconfraternity of Our Lady of Consolation.

The Augustianian Order has produced a number of notable members, especially theologians and writers, including:

See also


You Might Like