Order of Saint Augustine

For Anglicans following the Rule of St Augustine, see Augustinian nuns in the Anglican Communion.
Order of Saint Augustine
Ordo fratrum sancti Augustini
Abbreviation O.S.A., Augustinians, Augustinian friars
Motto Anima una et cor unum in Deum
Formation March 1, 1244 (1244-03-01)
Type Mendicant religious order of the Catholic Church
Purpose Pastoral work, missions, education, intellectual activity, etc
Headquarters Augustinian General Curia
  • Via Paolo VI, 25, 00193 Rome, Italy
Coordinates 41°54′2.65″N 12°27′25.18″E / 41.9007361°N 12.4569944°E / 41.9007361; 12.4569944
Region served
50 countries in Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania
2,785 friars, of which, 1,999 are priests [1]
Prior General
The Most Reverend Alejandro Moral, O.S.A.
Key people
Martin Luther, Gregor Mendel, Luis de León, Andres Urdaneta, Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, Saint Rita of Cascia, Saint Thomas of Villanova, Giles of Rome.
Main organ
General Chapter
Website Augustinians.net
Formerly called
Order of Hermits of Saint Augustine (O.E.S.A.)
Ordo eremitarum sancti Augustini

The Order of St. Augustine (Latin: Ordo sancti Augustini, abbreviated as O.S.A.)—historically Ordo eremitarum sancti Augustini", O.E.S.A., the Order of Hermits of St. Augustine), generally called Augustinians, or Austin Friars, (not to be confused with the Augustinian Canons Regular) is a Catholic Religious Order, which, although more ancient, was formally created in the thirteenth century and combined several previous Augustinian eremetical Orders into one. 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]



St. 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 St. 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. At the start of the second millennium, there was a revival in interest in the stricter form of clerical life. Several groups of canons were established under various disciplines, all with the Augustinian Rule as their basis. Examples of these were the Congregation of canons in Ravenna, founded by the Blessed Peter de Honestis about 1100, as well as the Norbertines. The instructions contained in Augustine's Rule formed the basis of the Rule that, in accordance with the decree of the Lateran Synod of 1059, was adopted by canons who desired to practice a common apostolic life (Holstenius, Codex regularum, II, Rome, 1661, 120), hence the title of Canons Regular of Saint Augustine.

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.

Little Union

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. At this time there were a number of eremitical groups living in such diverse places as Tuscany, Latium, Umbria, Liguria, England, Switzerland, Germany, and perhaps France. In 1243 the Tuscan hermits petitioned Pope Innocent IV to unite them all as one group. Innocent IV issued the Bull Incumbit Nobis on 16 December 1243, an essentially pastoral letter which exhorted these hermits to adopt "the Rule and way of life of the Blessed Augustine," to profess this Augustinian manner of life in a way that they themselves would decide with regards to specific charism and apostolate, and to elect a Prior General. The bull also appointed Cardinal Riccardo Annibaldi as their supervisor and legal guide. The importance of this man in the foundation of the Order cannot be overstated.[4]

Grand Union

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]

Privileges of the Order

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 is 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 must be renewed weekly and kept in readiness in case of the pope's illness, when it is the privilege of the papal sacristan to administer the last sacraments to His Holiness. The sacristan must always accompany the pope when he travels, and during a conclave it is he who celebrates Mass and administers the sacraments. He lived in 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 Vatican sacristans, but the appointment of an Augustinian bishop-sacristan lapsed under Pope John Paul II with the completion of the term of Petrus Canisius Van Lierde, O.S.A., in 1991. The Augustinian friars always fill 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 order has produced many saints, for example Clare of Montefalco, Nicholas of Tolentino (d. 1305), Rita of Cascia, John of Sahagún (a Sancto Facundo) (d. 1479), and Thomas of Villanova (d. 1555). Stefano Bellesini (d. 1840), the Augustinian parish priest of Genazzano, in the Roman province, was beatified by Pius X on 27 December 1904.


The Augustinians followed the Portuguese flag in Africa and the Gulf behind the explorer and seafarer Vasco da Gama.[6] 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 Americas

North America (U.S. and Canada)
St. Thomas of Villanova Church, on the Villanova University campus.

The North American foundation of the Order occurred in 1796 when Irish friars founded Olde St. Augustine's Church in Philadelphia.[7] 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.[8]

As of 2006 there were more than 70 Augustinian priories in the United States and Canada with 386 friars[9] in solemn vows and 16 in simple vows.

Latin America
Monastery of San Agustin of Yuriria, Mexico, founded in 1550.

Sent by their Provincial St.Thomas of Villanova, the first group of Spanish/Castilian Augustinians arrived in Mexico in 1533[10] after the subjugation of Aztec Mexico by Hernan Cortez. Melchor de Vargas composed, in 1576, a catechism in the Mexican Otomi language; Diego Basalenque (d. 1651) and Miguel de Guevara compiled works in the languages of the Matlaltzinkas of Mexico; Manuel Perez translated the Roman Catechism into Aztec in 1723. Monasteries sprang up in the principal places and became the centers of Christianity, art, and civilization. The Patio (Cloister) of the former monastery of St. Augustine, now the post office, at Querétaro, is one of the most beautiful examples of stone-carving in America. They soon formed multiple priories, including at Guanajuato (pictured) and were later instrumental in establishing the Pontifical and Royal University of Mexico. By 1562 there were nearly 300 Spanish Augustinians in Mexico, and they had established some 50 priories. Their history in Mexico was not to be an easy one, given the civil strife of events like the Cristero War, periodic anti-clericalism and suppression of the church that was to follow.

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.[11]

The Provincia Michoacanensis had about 55 members, while the Provincia Mexicana had 31, most of whom are priests. Augustinian missionaries extended their friaries to South America (Colombia, Venezuela, Peru). Political events in these countries prevented the order from prospering and hindered the success of its undertakings, so that during the 19th century the monasteries became deserted. Later events in the Philippine Islands, however, permitted the Augustinians to return to their former churches and monasteries and even to found new ones.

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. In Peru 49 members of the same province were employed: 14 priests and 2 lay brothers belonging to the convent at Lima; 12 priests to the college in the same city; 6 in each of the two seminaries at Cuzco and Ayacucho. In the Prefecture Apostolic of San León de Amazonas, at the mission stations of Peba, Río Tigre, and Leticia in the territory of the Iquito Indians there were 9 priests in 1900. In June, 1904, Bernardo Calle, the lay brother Miguel Vilajoli, and more than 70 Christians, were murdered at a then recently erected mission station, Huabico, in Upper Maranon and the station itself was destroyed.

The Augustinian settlements in Brazil of the 19th century then belonged to the Philippine province. In the procuration house at S. Paulo (Rua Apeninos 6) and in the college at Brotas there were 4 Augustinians each; in the diocesan seminary at S. José de Manaos, 6; and in the other settlements, 27 priests—in all, 42 members of the order, including one lay brother. In Argentina, there were 25 priests and two lay brothers in the six colleges and schools of the order in 1900. In Ecuador, which formed a province by itself, there were 21 members of the order in 1900; being 9 priests and 7 lay brothers in the monastery at Quito; 3 priests in the convent at Latagun and 2 in that at Guayaquil. The province of Chile had 56 members in 1900, including 18 lay brothers; 11 at Santiago, 4 at La Serena, 5 at Concepción, 22 at Talca, 8 at San Fernando, 4 at Melipilla, and 2 in the residence at Picazo. The province of the United States of America increased in the end of the 19th century as the Augustinians were driven out of many European countries, and in 1848 sought refuge in the USA. The province numbered 200 members in 1900. The largest convent was then at Villanova, Pa.; it was also the novitiate for North America, and among the 117 religious then occupying the convent 21 were priests. The other convents contained 60 members by 1900, of whom 5 were lay brothers. The Order (from Mexico) arrived in Cuba in 1608. It was suppressed by force in 1842. From 1892 the province of the United States had care of St. Augustine's College at Havana, Cuba, where there were 5 priests and 3 lay brothers in 1900 before they were expelled in 1961 by the government of Fidel Castro.

In the year 2000 in Central and South America,[12] 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. There are currently 814 friars in Latin America.


By the early 20th century, the Augustinians established missions in Oceania and Australia. The Spanish Augustinians took over the missions founded by Spanish and German Jesuits in the Ladrones, which then numbered 7 stations, with about 10,000 people, on Guam and about 2500 on each of the German islands of Saipan, Rota and Tinian. The mission on the German islands was separated from the Diocese of Cebú on 1 October 1906, and made a prefecture Apostolic on 18 June 1907, with Saipan as its seat of administration, and the mission given in charge to the German Capuchins.


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, O.S.A., under a rector, was then the training college for the Augustinian missions.

James Alipius Goold O.S.A, had been the first Augustinian to arrive in the Australian colonies in 1838. He had been convinced to go to Australia by William Bernard Ullathorne (then the Benedictine Vicar-General of New Holland) after a chance meeting on the steps of the Roman Augustinian church at the monastery of Santa Maria del Popolo.[13]

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.

As of 2006 there were 11 other Augustinian priories in Australia[14] with 36 friars in solemn vows, and one in simple vows. The order of friars is in numerical decline in Australia while affiliated orders are growing.


The Augustinian Delegation of Papua has operated since 1953. It presently contains five Dutch-born Augustinians and thirty-three Indonesian-born Augustinians.[15]

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

South-East Asia


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 OSA 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. Manuel Blanco, Ignacio Mercado, Antonio Llanos, Andrés Naves and Celestino Fernandez are also worthy of mention. Angelo Perez and Cecilio Guemes published in 1905 a work in four volumes entitled "La Imprenta de Manila".

Arguably, the most energetic missionary activity of the Augustinian Order has been displayed in the Philippine Islands. When Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines (16 March 1521) and took possession of them in the name of the King of Spain, he was accompanied by the chaplain of the fleet, who preached the Gospel to the inhabitants, baptizing Kings Colambu and Siagu and 800 natives of Mindanao and Cebú, on Low Sunday, 7 April 1521. The effect of these conversions however, were soon almost negated. Magellan was killed in a fight with natives on the little island of Mactan on 27 April and the Catholic foundation established by the first Spanish missionaries almost disappeared. The missionaries brought from Mexico in 1543 by Ruy López Villalobos were not more successful, for they were forced to return to Europe by way of Goa, having had little influence on the islanders. Under the Adelantado Legaspi who in 1565 established the sovereignty of Spain in the Philippines and selected Manila as the capital in 1571, Andrés de Urdaneta and 4 other Augustinian friars landed at Cebú in 1565, and at once began a very successful apostolate. The first houses of the Augustinians were established at Cebú, in 1565, and at Manila, in 1571.

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. Many wrote grammars and compiled dictionaries.

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. Franciscans first appeared in the Philippines in 1577 and were welcomed by the Augustinians. Soon they were joined by Dominicans and Jesuits. Sent by Philip III, the first Discalced Augustinians landed in 1606. All these Orders shared in the work and challenges of the missions. Protected by Spain, they prospered, and their missionary efforts became more and more successful. In 1773 the Jesuits, however, were obliged to give up their missions in consequence of the suppression of the Society.

Religious orders suffered persecution in the Philippines at the end of the 19th century, especially the Augustinians. In 1897 the Calced Augustinians, numbering 319 out of 644 religious then in the Philippine province, had charge of 225 parishes, with 2,377,743 people; the Augustinian Recollects, numbering about 220, with 233 parishes and 1,175,156 people; the Augustinians of the Philippine province numbered in all 522, counting those in the priories at Manila, Cavite, San Sebastian, and Cebú, those at the large model farm at Imus, and those in Spain at the colleges of Monteagudo, Marcilla, and San Millan de la Cogulla. Besides the numerous parishes served by the Calced Augustinians, they possessed several educational institutions: a superior and intermediate school at Vigan (Villa Fernandina) with 209 students, an orphanage and trade school at Tambohn near Manila, with 145 orphans, etc. Because of the disturbances, the schools and missions were deserted; six Augustinian priests were killed and about 200 imprisoned and some of them harshly treated. Those who escaped unmolested fled to the principal house at Manila, to Macao, to Han-kou, to South America, or to Mexico. Up to the beginning of 1900, 46 Calced and 120 Discalced Augustinians had been imprisoned. Upon their release, they returned to the few monasteries still left them in the islands or set out for Spain, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Argentina and China. The province of the United States sent some members to supply the vacancies in the Philippines. The Monastery of St. Paul, at Manila, had 24 priests and 6 lay brothers back in 1900; that at Cebú, 5 members of the order, that at Iloilo, on the island of Panay, 11 priests and 2 lay brothers, while in the 10 residences there were 20 priests; so that in 1900 there were only 68 Calced Augustinians in the islands. In all, the "Provincia Ss. Nominis Jesu Insularum Philippinarum", including theological students and the comparatively small number of lay brothers, had 600 members in 1900: 359 being in Spain, 185 of whom were priests; 68 in the Philippines; 29 in China (before their later expulsion) ; 26 in Colombia; 49 in Peru; 42 in Brazil; 27 in Argentina.

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. It has 85 members in final vows with 19 in simple profession. There are 12 priories including a mission on Socorro Island.[16]

The Order of friars is again growing in the Philippines. The Augustinian Recollects are also present 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. Antonius Aug. Georgius (d. 1797) composed the "Alphabetum Tibetanum" for the use of missionaries. Agostino Ciasca (d. 1902), titular Archbishop of Larissa and cardinal, established a special faculty for Oriental languages at the Roman Seminary, published an Arabic translation of Tatian's "Diatessaron" and wrote "Bibliorum Fragmenta Copto-Sahidica". Dionysius of Borgo San Sepolcro (d. 1342), Bishop of Monopoli in Lower Italy, is the author of a commentary on the "Factorum et dictorum memorabilium libri IX" of Valerius Maximus, and was also much esteemed for his talents as poet, philosopher, and orator. The missionaries of the order have also given us valuable descriptive works on foreign countries and peoples.

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[17] from Manila (Elias Suarez O.S.A. and Agostino Villanueva O.S.A) 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. In 1900 the order possessed the mission of Northern Hu-nan, China, where there were 24 members, 2 of whom were natives; 6 were in the district of Yo-chou; 6 in the district of Ch'ang-te; 9 in the district of Li-chu; three other religious were also labouring in other districts—all under the vicar Apostolic, then Mgr. Perez. The 1900 mission comprised about 3000 baptized Christians and 3500 catechumens in a population of 11 million. In 1900 there were also two priests at the mission house at Han-kou and two at the procuration house at Shang-hai (Yang-tsze-poo Road, 10). By 1910 the Augustinian mission had 24 members of the Order, two were indigenous Chinese. By 1947 the Augustinian mission counted 24,332 baptised Catholics as well as 3,250 preparing for baptism. They had established 20 major churches and 90 satellite churches. By that time there were 25 Chinese-born priests.

All foreign missionaries were expelled or imprisoned from 1953 by the Communist government. Chinese-born Augustinians were dispersed by government order and directed not to live the monastic life. Church officials were arrested, schools and other church institutions closed or confiscated by the State. Many priests, religious brothers and sisters, as well as leaders among the Christian laity were sent to labour camps. One of the last of the pre-Revolution Chinese Augustinians was the Rev. Dai O.S.A.. He died in 2003.

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[18] 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[19] the Portuguese Augustinians had not only established the order but also provided sixteen Indian bishops between 1579 and 1840. The order subsequently disappeared in India, cut off from its usual governance after the suppression of Portuguese monasteries in 1838, and the friars were forced to become secular priests. The order had failed successfully to establish itself as an autonomous indigenous Indian foundation.

However, the Augustinians were re-established by Filipino friars in 1968 at Cochin, and the Indian Augustinians took on further responsibilities in Kerala in 2005.[20] The Indian order 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. Towards the close of the sixteenth century, Aleixo de Menezes, Count of Cantanheda (d. 1617), a member of the order, appointed Archbishop of Goa in 1595, and of Braga in 1612, Primate of the East Indies, and several times Viceroy of India, sent several Augustinians as missionaries to Iran (Persia) while he himself laboured for the reunion of the Thomas Christians, especially at the Synod of Diamper, in 1599, and for the conversion of the Muslims and the non-Christians of Malabar.


Despite a vigorous early Christian foundation in Nagasaki by Jesuits, Franciscans and Filipino Augustinians[21] and the many 17th century Japanese Augustinian martyrs, 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. In 1602 some of them penetrated into Japan, where several were martyred around the 1607 during a period of Christian persecution. Among the martyred, Augustinians include: Ferdinand of Saint Joseph, Andrew Yoshida, Peter Zuñiga, John Shozaburo, Michael Kiuchi Tayemon, Peter Kuhieye, Thomas Terai Kahioye, Mancio Seisayemon, Lawrence Hachizo, Bartholomew Guitierrez, Vincent of Saint Anthony, Francis of Jesus, Martin of Saint Nicholas Lumbreras and Melchior of Saint Augustine Sánchez, and Thomas “Kintsuba” Jihyoe of Saint Augustine. The Augustinian Martyrs of Japan collectively celebrate their feast day on September 28. Augustinian Ferdinand of Saint Joseph, along with Andrew Yoshida, a catechist who worked with him, were beheaded in 1617. Peter Zúniga was burned to death in 1622. Br. John Shozaburo, Oblates Michael Kiuchi Tayemon, Peter Kuhieye, Thomas Terai Kahioye, and Tertiaries Mancio Scisayemon and Lawrence Hachizo were beheaded in 1630. Bartholomew Gutierrez, Vincent of Saint Anthony Simoens, Francis of Jesus Terrero, Martin of St. Nicholas Lumbreras and Melchior of St. Augustine Sánchez were burned to death in 1632. Thomas Jihyoe of Saint Augustine in 1637 was hung by his feet with his head inserted into a pit of rotting garbage until he died.[22] In 1653 others entered China, where, in 1701, the order had six missionary stations before their expulsion.

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 and St Thomas Jihyoe 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.[23] The order of friars is growing numerically in Korea.

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[9] 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 A.D., 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.[24] The Canons Regular and the Augustinian Recollects also have considerable history in Europe.

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. This includes 1,031 friars[9] in solemn vows, and 76 in simple vows.


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.[25] The partial List of monasteries dissolved by Henry VIII of England alone includes 19 Augustinian houses. Clare Priory was one of the houses dissolved by King Henry VIII, but the Order managed to buy it back 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 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. In 1885 Filipino Augustinians took charge of the famous Escorial, and friars continue to administer it today. The modern Augustinian province of Spain was refounded in 1926—largely through Spanish and Filipino friars from the Philippines—but that was not the end of difficulty for the order in Spain. During the Spanish Civil War (1936–39) ninety eight Augustinians were murdered—sixty five friars from the Escorial alone were executed. Many of the discalced Augustinian nuns of Valencia were also put to death.

As of 2006 there were 177 Spanish Augustinian friars, with 23 in simple profession.[26]


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. Great Connell Priory was founded about 1202. However, by the mid 14th century thirteen houses of the Order had been established in Ireland. The Irish branch was relatively poor, and very few of the indigenous Irish friars were sent to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge for their education (unlike the English Augustinians). The fortunes of the Irish order changed in 1361 when Lionel, the second son of King Edward III, became viceroy of Ireland. He favoured the order, and soon established an Augustinian professor of theology based at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, and the Irish order then grew significantly until the time of the English Reformation.

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[27] 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. In 1751 Augustine Cheevers O.S.A, 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 Irish emigrants (including Augustinian friars) are now returning. Over 40,000 immigrants each year are admitted to keep the Irish economy working, and many are coming from the new Eastern European members of the European Union. For example, there are now over 100,000 Poles in the country as well as asylum seekers from Africa and the Balkan countries. The formerly unified Celtic culture of Ireland is diversifying, and this means its predominantly Celtic Catholic ethos as well.

Europe (Setbacks)

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),[28] the two World Wars and Communist repression.

French-speaking lands

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.

German-speaking lands

The successful German branch, which until 1299 was counted as one province, was then divided into four provinces. These provinces produced significant Augustinian leaders and reformers. These included the most famous German Augustinian theologian before the Augustinian Martin Luther: Andreas Proles (d. 1503), the founder of the Union or Congregation of the Observant Augustinian Hermits, organized after strict principles; Johann von Paltz, the famous Erfurt professor and pulpit-orator (d. 1511); Bartholomaeus Arnoldi von Usingen (d. 1532); as well as Johann von Staupitz, Luther's monastic superior and Wittenberg colleague (d. 1524).

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 Alt-Brunn 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.

Growth or Decline of the Order Internationally

1914 tour group led by Blasius Zeiser, OSA, on the deck of RMS Carpathia.

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. "Quaedam [domus] S. Guillelmi, quaedam S. Augustini ordinum, nonnullae autem fratris Joannis Boni, aliquae vero de Fabali, aliae vero de Britinis." According to this statement, the original branches of the hermits were:

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. To the Brittinians alone, in 1260, was granted permission to continue following the contemplative life. A few years after the reorganization of the Augustinian Order, Hermit monasteries sprang up in Germany, France and Spain. Germany soon possessed forty, many of them large and important, such as those at Mainz, Würzburg, Worms, Nuremberg, Speyer, Strasburg, Ratisbon, all built between 1260 and 1270. As early as the year 1299, the German province was divided into four sub-provinces: the Rhenish-Swabian, the Cologne, the Bavarian and the Saxon. At the period of its greatest prosperity the order comprised 42 ecclesiastical provinces and 2 vicariates numbering 2000 monasteries and about 30,000 members. (Cf. Aug. Lubin, "Orbis Augustinianus sive conventuum O. Erem. S. A. chorographica et topographica descriptio", Paris, 1659, 1671, 1672.)

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 Canons Regular, Discalced Augustinians, Augustinian nuns, Premontres, Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception, Augustinian Recollects and the Dominicans.

Priories All Over the World

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
  • U.S.A.
  • 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
  • U.S.A

Historic Reform movements

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. As in Italy, Spain and France, reforms were begun as early as the fifteenth century in the four German provinces existing since 1299. Johannes Zachariae, an Augustinian monk of Eschwege, Provincial of the Order from 1419–1427 and professor of theology at the University of Erfurt, began a reform in 1492. Andreas Proles, prior of the Himmelpforten Monastery, near Wernigerode, strove to introduce the reforms of Heinrich Zolter in as many Augustinian monasteries as possible. Proles, aided by Simon Lindner of Nuremberg and other zealous Augustinians, worked indefatigably till his death, in 1503, to reform the Saxon monasteries, even calling in the assistance of the secular ruler of the country. As the result of his efforts, the German, or Saxon, Reformed Congregation, recognized in 1493, comprised nearly all the important convents of the Augustinian Hermits in Germany.

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. Staupitz also continued to favour Luther even after this. They had become acquainted at Erfurt, during a visitation, and Staupitz was responsible for Luther's summons to Wittenberg in 1508; yet even after 1517 he entertained friendly sentiments for Luther, looking upon his ideas as being motivated only against abuses. From 1519 on, he gradually turned away from Luther. Staupitz resigned his office of vicar-general of the German congregations in 1520. Wenzel Link, preacher at Nuremberg, former professor and dean of the theological faculty at Wittenberg, who was elected his successor, cast his lot with Luther, whose views were endorsed at a chapter of the Saxon province held in January, 1522, at Wittenberg. In 1523 Link resigned his office and became a Lutheran preacher at Altenberg, where he introduced the Reformation and married. In 1528 he went as preacher to Nuremberg, where he died in 1547. The examples of Luther and Link were followed by many Augustinians of the Saxon province, and their convents gradually became more and more deserted. The convent of Erfurt ceased to exist in 1525. German houses that remained in communion with Rome then united with the Lombardic Congregation.

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. It is also the residence of the general of the order (prior generalis) and of the curia generalis. Another priory of the Augustinian order in Rome is that of S. Augustinus de Urbe, established in 1483, near the church of St. Augustine. It was there that the remains of St. Monica, the mother if St. Augustine, were deposited when they were brought from Ostia in the year 1430. This, formerly the chief priory of the order, was later occupied by the Italian Ministry of Marine, and the Augustinian friars who serve the church retained only a small portion of their former property. Another Augustinian priory in Rome is S. Maria de Populo de Urbe.

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.

Organization of the Order


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.[29] The Rule and Constitutions were approved at the general chapter held at Florence in 1287 and at Ratisbon in 1290. A revision was made at Rome in 1895. The Constitutions have frequently been printed: at Rome, in 1581, and, with the commentary of Girolamo Seripando, at Venice, in 1549, and at Rome, in 1553. The newly revised Constitutions were published at Rome in 1895, with additions in 1901 and 1907.

The government of the order is as follows: At the head is the prior general. Currently, the prior general is Alejandro Moral, OSA, who was elected in September 2013.. The prior general is elected every six years by the general chapter. The prior general is aided by six assistants and a secretary, also elected by the general chapter. These form the Curia Generalitia. Each province is governed by a provincial, each commissariate by a commissary general, each of the two congregations by a vicar-general, and every monastery by a prior (only the Czech monastery of Alt-Brunn, in Moravia, is under an abbot) and every college by a rector. The members of the order are divided into priests and brothers. The Augustinians, like most religious orders, have a cardinal protector.

The Habit

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.

Modern distribution

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. This includes 1,031 friars[9] in solemn vows, and 76 in simple vows. 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 St. Thomas of Villanova College in Toronto. The order, by 2006 has since professed many native Canadians.

As of 2006 there were more than 70 Augustinian priories in the United States and Canada with 386 friars[9] in solemn vows and 16 in simple vows. In Central and South America,[12] 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. There are currently 814 friars in Latin America.

As of 2006, there were more than 30 other Augustinian priories in Nigeria, Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Algeria, with over 85 friars[9] 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.[30]

As of 2006 there were 11 Augustinian priories in Australia[14] with 36 friars in solemn vows, and one in simple vows. The order of friars is in numerical decline in Australia while affiliated orders are growing.

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[9] 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, Wittenberg etc. Others taught successfully in the schools of the Order, which controlled a number of secondary schools, colleges etc. In 1685 the Bishop of Würzburg, Johann Gottfried II, of Guttenberg, 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.

As a pedagogical writer, we may mention the general of the order Aegidius of Colonna (Giles of Rome), who died Archbishop of Bourges in 1316. Aegidius served as the preceptor of the French king, Philip IV, the Fair, at whose request he wrote the work De regimine Principum.[31] Aegidius of Colonna was a disciple of the Scholastic St. Thomas Aquinas, and founded the school of theology known as the Augustinian school, which was divided into an earlier and a later. Representatives of the earlier Augustinian school (or Aegidians), include—besides Aegidius himself—(Doctor fundatissimus) Thomas of Strasburg (d. 1357) and Gregory of Rimini (d. 1358), both generals of the order, and Augustine Gibbon, professor at Würzburg (d. 1676). The later Augustinian school of theology is represented by Cardinal Henry Noris (d. 1704), Federico Nicolò Gavardi (d. 1715), Fulgentius Bellelli (d. 1742), Petrus Manso (d. after 1729), Joannes Laurentius Berti (d. 1766) and Michelangelo Marcelli (d. 1804).

Jacques Barthelemy de Buillon, a French Augustinian exiled by the Revolution, fled to Munich and began the education of children who were deaf and unable to speak or presumed to be unable to communicate (referred to in the past as "deaf and dumb").


Augustianian hermits included the following notable theologians:

Angelo Rocca, papal sacristan and titular Bishop of Tagaste (d. 1620), known for his liturgical and archaeological researches, founded the Angelica Library (Bibliotheca Angelica), called after him, which became the public library of the Augustinians in Rome.


Many Augustinians have written ascetic works and sermons. In historical writing there are:

Augustinian Devotional Practices

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. This devotion has spread to other churches and countries, and confraternities have been formed to encourage it.[32] Several periodicals dedicated to the honour of Our Lady of Good Counsel are published in Italy, Spain and Germany by the Augustinians (cf. Meschler on the history of the miraculous picture of Genazzano in "Stimmen aus Maria-Laach", LXVII, 482 sqq.).

Besides this devotion, the order traditionally fostered the Archconfraternity of Our Lady of Consolation. Traditionally, the girdle confraternity, members of which wear a blessed girdle of black leather in honour of Saints Augustine, Monica and Nicholas of Tolentino, recite daily thirteen Our Fathers and Hail Marys and the Salve Regina, fast strictly on the eve of the feast of St. Augustine, and received Holy Communion on the feasts of the three above-named saints. This confraternity was founded by Pope Eugene IV at San Giacomo, Bologna, in 1439, made an archconfraternity by Gregory XIII, in 1575, aggregated to the Augustinian Order, and favoured with indulgences. The Augustinians, with the approbation of Pope Leo XIII, also encourage the devotion of the Scapular of Our Lady of Good Counsel and the propagation of the Third Order of St. Augustine for the laity, as well as the veneration of St. Augustine and his mother St. Monica, to instill the Augustinian spirit of prayer and self-sacrifice into their parishioners.

See also



  1. http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/diocese/dqosa.html
  2. Frisk, M. Jean. "Our Lady of Good Counsel", Marian Library, University of Dayton
  3. 1 2 "History of the Order", Order of Saint Augustine
  4. Rano, Balbino, O.S.A., Augustinian Origins, Charism, and Spirituality, Villanova, Augustinian Press, 1994, 29
  5. Andrews, Frances (2006). The other friars: the Carmelite, Augustinian, Sack and Pied friars in the Middle Ages. The Boydell Press.
  6. "Africa", Augnet
  7. "Olde St. Augustine's Church", USHistory.org
  8. "Canada" Augnet
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 N.B. Augustinian friars numbers cited from information on the website International Order of St. Augustine
  10. c.f. Augustinians in the Americas Augnet historical information
  11. Murphy, Patrick. "Foreign Missions". Midwest Augustinians. Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  12. 1 2 N.B. South American Augustinian friars numbers not available online
  13. Arneil, Stan pp. 34 "Out Where the Dead Men Lie" (The Augustinians in Australia 1838–1992) Augustinian Press Brookvale (1992). pp37. ISBN 0-949826-03-0
  14. 1 2 c.f. Augustinians in Australia Augnet historical information
  15. c.f. Augustinian news AugustiniansAugustinians.org.aul Augustinians.org.au
  16. c.f. Augustinians in the Philippines Augnet historical information
  17. c.f. Augustinians in China Augnet historical information
  18. c.f. Australian Augustinian School Principal from St. Augustine's College, Brookvale visits China Augnet News in 2003
  19. c.f. Augustinians in India Augnet historical information
  20. c.f. Augustinian news Indian Augustinians Augustinians.org.au
  21. c.f. Augustinians in Japan Augnet.org
  22. Taylor, Thomas. "Augustinian Martyrs of Japan". Midwest Augustinians. Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  23. c.f.Augustinians in KoreaAugnet historical information
  24. c.f. Augustino Lubin Orbis Augustinianus sive conventuum O. Erem. S. A. chorographica et topographica descriptio, Paris, 1659, 1671, 1672
  25. Taylor, Thomas. "St. John Stone". Midwest Augustinians. Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel.
  26. c.f. Augustinians in Spain [http://www.osanet.org/whereweare/en/default.asp?page=europe.asp&language=en&section=whe International Order of St. Augustine]
  27. http://www.augnet.org/default.asp?ipageid=819
  28. The statistics come from Historia de la Persecución Religiosa en España (1936–1939) by Antonio Montero Moreno (Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, 3rd edition, 1999)
  29. Osa-West.org
  30. C.F. Augustinians in Korea.Augnet historical information
  31. An extract from this book "on the care of parents for the education of their children" appears in the "Bibliothek der katholischen Padagogik", Freiburg, 1904.
  32. Sources quoted from the Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469-1390Udayton.edu


  • Bibliography for the Augustinian official website
  •  Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Hermits of St. Augustine". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 
  • "Histoire Orient. de grands progrès de l'eglise Romaine en la réduction des anciens chrestiens dit de St. Thomas" translated from the Spanish of Francois Munoz by Jean Baptiste de Glen, Brussels, 1609
  • "Histoire Orient. de grands progrès de l'eglise Romaine en la réduction des anciens chrestiens dit de St. Thomas" translated from the Spanish of François Munoz by Jean Baptiste de Glen, Brussels, 1609
  • Joa. a S. Facundo Raulin, "Historia ecclesiae malabaricae", Rome, 1745.
  • Augustine of Hippo, The Rule of St Augustine Constitutiones Ordinis Fratrum S. Augustini (Rome 1968)
  • The Augustinians (1244–1994): Our History in Pictures. Pubblicazioni Agostiniane, Via Paolo VI, 25, Roma, Italy. 
  • Canning O.S.A; Rev. R. (1984). The Rule of St Augustine. Darton, Longman and Todd. 
  • Ebsworth, Rev. Walter (1973). Pioneer Catholic Victoria. Polding Press. ISBN 0-85884-096-0. 
  • Hackett O.S.A.; Michael Benedict (2002). A Presence in the Age of Turmoil: English, Irish and Scottish Augustinians in the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. Augustinian Historical Institute, Villanova University, Pennsylvania 19085 U.S.A. ISBN 1-889542-27-X. 
  • Hickey, Rev. P.J. O.S.A (1981). A History of the Catholic Church in Northern Nigeria. Augustinian publications in Nigeria, Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. 
  • edited by Martin O.S.A; Rev F.X. & Clare O'Reilly. The Irish Augustinians in Rome, 1656–1994 and Irish Augustinian Missions throughout the World. St. Patrick's College, Via Piemonte 60, Roma, Italy. 
  • Orbis Augustinianus sive conventuum O. Erem. S. A. chorographica et topographica descriptio Augustino Lubin, Paris, 1659, 1671, 1672.
  • Regle de S. Augustin pour lei religieuses de son ordre; et Constitutions de la Congregation des Religieuses du Verbe-Incarne et du Saint-Sacrament (Lyon: Chez Pierre Guillimin, 1662), pp. 28–29. Cf. later edition published at Lyon (Chez Briday, Libraire,1962), pp. 22–24. English edition, The Rule of Saint Augustine and the Constitutions of the Order of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament (New York: Schwartz, Kirwin, and Fauss, 1893), pp. 33–35.
  • Zumkeller O.S.A., Adolar (1986). Augustine's ideal of Religious life. Fordham University Press, New York. 
  • Zumkeller O.S.A., Adolar (1987). Augustine's Rule. Augustinian Press, Villanova, Pennsylvania U.S.A. 

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