(Augustinian Friars; Hermits of St. Augustine. For Augustinian Canons see Canons Regular). Order formed 1256 by Pope Alexander IV by merging several small hermit bodies. Intended as counterpoise to growing power of older mendicant orders (Franciscans and Dominicans); linked more closely to papacy than they. The so-called Augustinian* Rule was the basis of its rather strict regulations. Soon the hermit character was exchanged for that of mendicancy, and the Augustinians became known as the 4th of the great mendicant orders (see Mendicant Friars). The order spread rapidly and in its prime had no less than 2,000 monasteries and 30,000 members In the 14th c. a decline in discipline led to reforms; as a result part of the order became barefooted* monks. The Ger. congregation of the order was divided into 4 provinces. Luther entered the Erfurt monastery in the Saxon province 1505, tortured himself with rigorous privations of every kind, and went about with a sack as a mendicant. The provincial, Johann von Staupitz, referred him to Christ, encouraged him to study the Scriptures, caused him to be called to the U. of Wittenberg, and remained his friend, though he himself continued in the RC Ch. But so many other Augustinians, including Staupitz's successor, accepted Luther's doctrine, that the Ger. cong. of the order ceased to exist 1526; it was reestablished 1895 as a province. The Augustinians have been active chiefly as teachers and writers, but also as missionaries. They were the miss. pioneers in the Philippines. The motherhouse of the order in the US is at Villanova, Pennsylvania See also Luther Martin, 3; Recollects.
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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