During these anxious years for the Order between 1274 and 1298, there were various steps taken corporately by the Order of Saint Augustine that were at least partially influenced by a desire to optimise the Order's chances of being permitted a continued existence. The Order's response was a call to unity that was without precedent in the history of religious orders up until that time. For example, deviations in the black-coloured Augustinian habit (choir vestment) were strongly condemned, and a single theology imposed.
In 1287 the Augustinian General Chapter in Florence decreed that all present and future teaching and preaching were to be based on the work of the Order's greatest theologian, Giles of Rome O.S.A. The Augustinian Order was seeking to increase its inner strength by reinforcing its unity and uniformity. Through its promotion of higher learning at its numerous studia generale (international houses of study for its candidates) in Paris (1259), Oxford (1267), Cambridge (c. 1289) and elsewhere, it increasingly developed its theology and its identity ("myth") in the context of being both the intellectual and fraternal sons of Augustine.
Unlike the Sack Friars who were disbanded against their will as a result of the Council of Lyons in 1275, the Augustinian Order had the intellectual and psychological power to challenge the Council and to find a political way to survive suppression. Even before Boniface VIII guaranteed their continuance the Augustinians must have been somehow reassured concerning their future, otherwise, their renewed spirit of enterprise could not be explained. For example, shortly after Pope Gregory's death in 1285 they moved into Ireland. In England itself a great building activity is evident in all houses, and at least five new foundations were made in the final decade of the thirteenth century.
And so the words of one Pope in 1274 were counteracted by the words of another Pope in 1298, but not without twenty-four years of concern for the members of the Order in the interim. In 1299 Boniface VIII reconfirmed their exemption from episcopal jurisdiction, under immediate obedience to the pope. The Order of Saint Augustine was thus secure. In 1303 Boniface further reconfirmed the Order's participation in the same privileges concerning preaching, sacramental confession and the burial of the laity as were possessed by the members of both the Franciscan and Dominican mendicant orders.
The early structure, development and legislation of the Order of Saint Augustine did not take place in a vacuum. Right from the initial steps taken by Cardninal Richard Annibaldi as Cardinal Protector of the Order and the agent of the Popes in the formation of the Order, there was contemporary precedent that was followed. The rule of life and the constitutions of various mendicant orders were affected by the legislation that Saint Dominic prepared for his Order of Preachers (Dominicans) This was a natural step for a number of reasons. Firstly, the Dominicans began in 1512, i.e., almost half a century before the Grand Union (1256) of the Order of Saint Augustine. Secondly, Dominic was a great organiser and legislator, who had universal approval of Church officials. By the use of these initiatives, the Dominicans and also the Franciscans had both successfully demonstrated the process of formation of a mendicant order. Copying from his documents, therefore, was thus a convenient and certain way to gain the approval of Rome for what was being instituted.
The early constitutions of the Order of Saint Augustine (1284-90) had a Dominican base, and along with it numerous Dominican articles that likewise stand as evidence of a complete legislative concordance. Even before the Grand Union of 1256, this Dominican influence had been at work within some one of the branches that constituted it – certainly in some groups that joined the Grand Union, including instances in the Gianboniti (Hermits of Saint John the Good) and the Hermits of Brettino as early as the years 1239 and 1251. After their official approbation by the Pope, the Carmelites and the Augustinians were encouraged to be influenced by the example of the Dominicans in their ministry to the Church at large. As is explained on another page of Augnet, the Carmelites and the Augustinians understood the desire of the Pope for them in this regard, and responded positively.
The Order of Saint Augustine and the other mendicant orders of the thirteenth century were indebted to the Dominicans particularly for their social organisation. This included the practice (and the wording used) of having a prior general and priors provincial, general and provincial chapters, elections, definitors, visitations, itinerants, and various measures of protection from internal disorder and narrowness. These Dominican initiatives were carried over to the Order of Saint Augustine most often in substance, but sometimes even verbatim. There was also a possible personal factor in the Dominican influence of the early formation of the Order of Saint Augustine. The Cardinal Protector appointed by the Church to the Order of Saint Augustine was Richard Annibaldi. He was a personal friend of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the greatest of the Dominican scholars, and conceivably was very familiar at a first-hand level with the successful growth that the Dominicans were achieving during the decades in which Annabaldi was directing the Order of Saint Augustine. As is explained on another page of Augnet, the Carmelites and the Augustinians understood what the Pope sought of them, and responded positively. They were encouraged to be influenced by the example of the Dominicans in their ministry to the Church at large.
Photo Gallery For the Augnet photo gallery on Genazzano (including the four photos above), click here.
13th Century Augustinian Monasteries. Text by Fr. Brian Lowery, OSA, Ph.D, and uploaded by the Augustinians in California, USA. An excellent overview, with illustrations. http://osa-west.org/ancient-osa-monasteries.html