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Two groups have borne this name:

(1) A group of Armenian monks who fled to Genoa in 1306 and had a church dedicated to St. Bartholomew built for them. As their numbers were increased by further Armenian refugees, they spread throughout Italy. Initially Clement V authorized them to celebrate divine service according to their own rites, but later Innocent VI (1356) approved their adoption of the Roman liturgy and the Rule of St. Augustine. Boniface IX granted them the privileges of the Dominicans. After a period of decline they were suppressed by Innocent X in 1650.

(2) A German congregation of secular priests founded in 1640 by Bartholomew Holzhauser (1613-58) for the purpose of preaching, teaching, and reviving the morals and discipline of the clergy and laity. Also known as the “United Brethren” and “Communists,” they lived in communities under a superior but without vows. They never worked alone, but always two together. Following papal approval in 1680, they spread to many European countries, including England, Poland, and Italy. They became extinct in 1803, though several attempts have been made to revive them.