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Augustinian Canons

Also known as “Black,” “Regular,” and “Austin” Canons. Though Augustine of Hippo did try to establish houses wherein there was a complete monastic rule, the origins of these canons who bear his name were connected with the reform movement of Pope Gregory VII's time (c.1021-85). The Lateran Synods of 1059 and 1063, taking note of the revival of the common life in such areas as N Italy and S France, discussed and recommended monastic poverty without making it compulsory—i.e., monks were still allowed to own some property. With the discovery and implementation of the Rule of Augustine by the mid-eleventh century, the title “regular canons” came to be virtually synonymous with Augustinian canons as the monks adopted the Augustinian Rule. The canons did not, however, belong to a single order but were organized into various houses, which in turn subdivided into congregations. Well-known examples of the latter were at Prémontré, St. Ruf, and Windesheim. Thomas à Kempis* and Gerhard Groote belonged to Windesheim. Erasmus* was an Augustinian canon. From the fifth century many of the houses disappeared, but the Canons Regular of the Lateran and the Premonstratensian Canons still survive, as do several convents of canonesses. Two famous London teaching hospitals, St. Bartholomew's and St. Thomas's, owe their origins to the Augustinian canons.

See J.C. Dickinson, The Origins of the Austin Canons and Their Introduction into England (1950).

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