Augustinians, the Discalceated or Barefooted

Augustinians, The Discalceated Or Barefooted (Observants, Recollects) owe their origin to the Portuguese monk Thomas a Jesu de Andrade (died in 1582), though their first convent was not organized until after his death, in 1588, by order of the king of Spain. They adopted a rule which in strictness surpasses the primitive one, and were afterward divided into three separate congregations, the Italian-German, until 1656, in four provinces, subsequently in seven (2 of Naples, 2 of Sicily, 1 of Genoa, 1 of Germany, 1 of Piedmont), the French in three provinces, and the Spanish, the most rigorous of all, which extended to the East and West Indies, to the Philippine Islands, to Japan and Rome. They have in every province a retired convent, with a hermitage close by, in which monks desirous of a particular ascetic perfection may live.

In the sixteenth century, when Pius V conferred on them the privileges of the other mendicant orders, the Augustinians counted 2000 convents of men and 300 of females, together with 35,000 inmates. The order has fallen in the general suppression of convents in Portugal, Spain, France, Northern and Western Germany, and quite recently in Italy. At the beginning of 1860, the Augustinian Hermits had 131 convents in Italy, 10 in Germany, 6 in Poland, 1 in France, 13 in Great Britain, 1 in Holland, 2 in Belgium, 22 in Mexico, 2 in the United States (in the dioceses of Philadelphia and Albany), 13 in South America, and 1 in the Philippine Islands. The Barefooted Augustinians had 6 monasteries in Italy, 1 in Germany, 2 in South America, and 6 in the Philippine Islands.

The Augustinians have never been able to gain the same importance as the other mendicant orders, and at present they exert no great influence in the Church of Rome. The most remarkable men, besides Luther, which the order has produced, are Onuphrius Panvini (of the sixteenth century), Cardinal Norris, Abraham a Santa Clara, and Ludovicus Leon. The constitution, which was established at the general chapters of 1287, 1290, 1575, and especially at that of 1580, is aristocratic. The general chapters, which assemble every sixth year, elect a prior-general, and may depose him. His power is limited by the definitores, who, as his councillors, reside with him. Every province has a provincial, four definitores, and one or several visitatores. Every convent has a prior. The Discalceated Augustinians have their vicar-generals, while the general of the order is taken from the calceated (conventuals).

The sources of information are Bingham, Orig, Eccles. book 7; Dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum, 6; Fehr's Geschichte der Mnchsorden; Helyoot, Ordres Religieux, 1, 288 sq., with the authorities cited there, especially N. Crusenii Mosasticon Augustinianum (1623); St. Martin, Vie de St. Augustin, etc. (Toulouse, 1641); Osingeri Bibliotheca Augustina (Ingolstadt, 1768, fol.); Zungo, Historiae Can. Reg. August. Prodromius (Ratisb. 1742, 2 vols. fol.); P. Karl vom heil. Aloys, Jahrbuch der Kirche (Regensb. 1860); Migne, Dictionnaire des Ordres Religieur, tom. 4 (Paris, 1859).

 
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