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Augustinian Hermits

friars. A mendicant order formed from several Italian congregations of hermits by Pope Alexander IV in 1256. While the constitution was based on the Dominicans, the rule was that of Augustine of Hippo. Increasing rapidly, they lost their eremitical character and became an important mendicant order. The title “Hermit” was preserved in order to distinguish them from the canons. The order comprised clerical and lay members (who later included women). Its head is the prior general, who is assisted by a council. Each province has a provincial, and each monastery a prior. They wear a black habit, long pointed cowl, and black leather cincture. Two important theological schools-those connected with Giles Colonna (d.1316) and Cardinal Noris (d.1704)-came from their ranks. Martin Luther was a member of the reformed German congregation. Though they experienced many setbacks in the sixteenth century, they remain today. There are two discalced (barefoot) congregations whose origins go back to the Counter-Reformation of the late sixteenth century.

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