Who Were the Augustinians ?

Augustinians were religious orders of the Roman Catholic church that followed a rule of community life derived originally from the sermons of Saint Augustine of Hippo, (this was not the Saint Augustine who is reputed to have brought Christianity to England ), and especially from a letter he wrote to a community of women in 423 A.D.. After the Lateran Synod of 1059 A.D. exhorted the clergy to adopt a common rule to govern their community life, the clergy in many cities of Europe formed local communities with rules less rigid than those of the monastic orders. During the 12th century, the practice of forming these communities spread throughout the Christian world and especially throughout western Europe. Community rules were unified by the pope, who also united the separate communities in the order of Augustinian Canons, or Austin Canons. The Augustinian Canons were also known as the "Black Canons" because of their dress. The name Augustinians was also given to communities of women following the Augustinian rule, which have existed as independent congregations since the 11th century.
There were some 15 Houses of Augustinian Canonesses in the Medieval period in England out of a total of 200 Augustinian Priories and Abbeys .

"Augustinians," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 97 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1996 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


Who or What are    Canons ?

Canon (religion), in Christian usage, a rule or standard. By the middle of the 3rd century the word had come to refer to those doctrines recognized as orthodox by the Christian church. It was later used to designate collectively the list of books accepted as Scripture (see Bible).
The term canon is also used to denote the catalog or register of saints. The use of the plural form to denote church precepts originated about the year 300; this form began to be applied specifically to the decrees of the church councils about the middle of the 4th century (Canon Law). The term is also applied to the part of the Roman Catholic Mass that opens with the Preface, or prayer of thanksgiving, and closes just before the recitation of the Lord's Prayer.

In some Christian churches, Canon is also an ecclesiastical title given to the clergy attached to a cathedral church or to certain types of priests living under a semimonastic rule, such as the Augustinians.

"Canon (religion)," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 97 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1996 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

If you have a copy of ENCARTA you can find the full texts there.




In practice, the basic "Rules of St.Augustine" were modified for each Augustinian Priory. These modified rules were known as "Observances". Only one complete set of Observances has been handed down to modern times. Those were the Observances of Barnwell Priory in Cambridgeshire, now in the British Museum.



A very full account and history of the Augustinian Order of Canons and Canonesses can be found here in the Catholic Encyclopaedia

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