Augustinians, religious order in the Roman Catholic Church. The name derives from the Rule of St. Augustine (5th cent.?), which established rules for monastic observance and common religious life. The canons regular, made up of ordained clergy, adopted this rule in the 11th cent. and became known as Augustinian, or Austin, canons. Augustinian canons pursue a life of poverty, celibacy, and obedience without withdrawing from the world. Subsequent orders of canons regular, such as the Premonstratensians, are outgrowths of the Augustinians. The Austin friars are an entirely different group of religious, dating from the 13th cent. (see friar). Officially known as Hermits of St. Augustine, they now exist in three independent branches—the Calced Augustinian Hermits, the more austere and less numerous Discalced Augustinian Hermits, and the Recollects of St. Augustine. There are also congregations of women corresponding to both canons and friars.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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