Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog: Ascetic, Psalm 19:2-5, Matthew 9:9-13, St Thomas of Villanova, Order of St. Augustine, University of Alcalá

Friday, September 21, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog:
Ascetic, Psalm 19:2-5, Matthew 9:9-13, St Thomas of Villanova, Order of St. Augustine, University of Alcalá

Good Day Bloggers! 
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week! 

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7.

We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift knowledge and free will as well, make the most of it. Life on earth is a stepping to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


Today's Word:  ascetic  as·cet·ic  [uh-set-ik]

Origin:  1640–50;  < Greek askētikós  subject to rigorous exercise, hardworking, equivalent to askē-  ( see askesis) + -tikos -tic

1. a person who dedicates his or her life to a pursuit of contemplative ideals and practices extreme self-denial or self-mortification for religious reasons.
2. a person who leads an austerely simple life, especially one who abstains from the normal pleasures of life or denies himself or herself material satisfaction.
3. (in the early Christian church) a monk; hermit.


Today's Old Testament Reading - Psalms 19:2-5

2 day discourses of it to day, night to night hands on the knowledge.
3 No utterance at all, no speech, not a sound to be heard,
4 but from the entire earth the design stands out, this message reaches the whole world. High above, he pitched a tent for the sun,
5 who comes forth from his pavilion like a bridegroom, delights like a champion in the course to be run


Today's Gospel Reading - Matthew 9:9-13

As Jesus was walking on from there he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, 'Follow me.' And he got up and followed him. Now while he was at table in the house it happened that a number of tax collectors and sinners came to sit at the table with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, 'Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?' When he heard this he replied, 'It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. Go and learn the meaning of the words: Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice. And indeed I came to call not the upright, but sinners.'

• The Sermon on the Mountain takes chapters 5, 6 and 7 of the Gospel of Matthew.   The purpose of the narrative part of chapters 8 and 9 is to show how Jesus put into practice what he had just taught.  In the Sermon on the Mountain, he teaches acceptance (Mt 5, 23-25. 38-42.43).  Now he puts it into practice accepting the lepers (Mt 8, 1-4), the foreigners (Mt 8, 5-13), the women (Mt 8, 14-15), the sick (Mt 8, 16-17), the possessed (Mt 8, 28-34), the paralytics (Mt 9, 1-8), the tax collectors (Mt 9, 913), the unclean persons (Mt 9, 20-22), etc.  Jesus breaks the norms and the customs which excluded and divided persons, that is with the fear and the lack of faith (Mt 8, 23-27) the laws on purity (9, 14-17), and he clearly says which are the requirements for those who want to follow him. They should have the courage to abandon many things (Mt 8, 18-22).  In the same way in the attitudes and in the practice of Jesus we see in what the Kingdom and the perfect observance of the Law of God consists.

• Matthew 9, 9: The call to follow Jesus.  The first persons called to follow Jesus are four fishermen, all Jewish (Mt 4, 18-22).  Now Jesus calls a tax collector, considered a sinner and treated as an unclean person by the community of the most observant of the Pharisees. In the other Gospels, this tax collector is called Levi. Here, his name is Matthew, which means gift of God or given by God.  The communities, instead of excluding the tax collector and of considering him unclean, should consider him a Gift of God for the community, because his presence makes the community become a sign of salvation for all!  Like the first four who were called, in the same way also Matthew, the tax collector, leaves everything that he has and follows Jesus.  The following of Jesus requires breaking away from many things.  Matthew leaves the tax office, his source of revenue and follows Jesus!

• Matthew 9, 10: Jesus sits at table with sinners and tax collectors. At that time the Jews lived separated from the tax collectors and sinners and they did not eat with them at the same table. The Christian Jews should break away from this isolation and sit at table with the tax collectors and with the unclean, according to the teaching given by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mountain, the expression of the universal love of God the Father (Mt 5, 44-48).  The mission of the communities was that of offering a place to those who did not have it. But this new law was not accepted by all.  In some communities persons coming from paganism, even if they were Christians, were not accepted around the same table (cf. Ac 10, 28; 11, 3; Ga 2, 12). The text of today’s Gospel shows us Jesus who sits at table with tax collectors and sinners in the same house, around the same table.

• Matthew 9, 11: The question of the Pharisees. Jews were forbidden to sit at table with the tax collectors and with sinners, but Jesus does not follow this prohibition.  Rather he becomes a friend to them. The Pharisees seeing the attitude of Jesus, ask the disciples: “Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?” This question may be interpreted as an expression of their desire to know why Jesus acts in that way.  Others interpret the question like a criticism of Jesus’ behaviour, because for over five hundred years, from the time of the slavery in Babylon until the time of Jesus, the Jews had observed the laws of purity.  This secular observance became a strong sign of identity.  At the same time it was a factor of their separation in the midst of other peoples.  Thus, because of the laws on purity, they could not nor did they succeed to sit around the same table to eat with tax collectors.  To eat with tax collectors meant to get contaminated, to become unclean.  The precepts of legal purity were rigorously observed, in Palestine as well as in the Jewish communities of the Diaspora.  At the time of Jesus, there were more than five hundred precepts to keep purity.  In the years 70’s, at the time when Matthew wrote, this conflict was very actual.   

• Matthew 9, 12-13: “Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice. Jesus hears the question of the Pharisees to the disciples and he answers with two clarifications: the first one is taken from common sense: “It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick”. The second one is taken from the Bible: “Go and learn the meaning of the words: Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice”. Through these clarifications, Jesus makes explicit and clarifies his mission among the people: “I have not come to call the upright but sinners”.  Jesus denies the criticism of the Pharisees; he does not accept their arguments, because they came from a false idea of the Law of God.  He himself invokes the Bible: “Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice”. For Jesus, mercy is more important than legal purity.  He refers to the prophetic tradition to say that mercy has greater value for God than all sacrifices (Ho 6, 6; Is 1, 10-17).  God has profound mercy, and is moved before the failures of his people (Ho 11, 8-9).

Personal questions
• Today, in our society, who is marginalized and excluded?  Why? In our community, do we have preconceptions or prejudices? Which? Which is the challenge which the words of Jesus present to our community?  
• Jesus asks the people to read and to understand the Old Testament which says: “Mercy is what pleases me and not sacrifice”.  What does Jesus want to tell us with this today?

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  St. Thomas of Villanova

Feast Day: September 22
Patron Saint: Villanova University; Universidad Católica de Santo Tomás de Villanueva  Havana, Cuba; St. Thomas University Miami Gardens, Florida, USA ; and Villanova College, Brisbane, Australia.

St Thomas of Villanova
St. Thomas of Villanova, O.S.A., was a Spanish friar of the Order of Saint Augustine who was a noted preacher, ascetic and religious writer of his day. He became an archbishop who was famous for the extent of his care for the poor of his see. He was born Tomás García y Martínez and grew up and was educated in Villanueva de los Infantes, in the Province of Ciudad Real, Spain, where his parents owned a prosperous estate; therefore the name Thomas of Villanueva. Part of the original house still stands, with a coat of arms in the corner, beside a family chapel. In spite of his family's wealth, as a young boy he often went about naked because he had given his clothing to the poor.

Even though he studied Arts and Theology at the University of Alcalá de Henares and had become a professor there, he decided to join the Augustinian friars in Salamanca in 1516, and in 1518 was ordained a priest. Within the Order, he successively held the positions of prior of his local monastery, Visitor General, and Prior Provincial for Andalusia and Castile. He was also a professor at the university and counsellor and confessor to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V of Spain.

Thomas was well known for his great personal austerity (he sold the straw mattress on which he slept in order to give money to the poor) and for his continual and untiring charitable efforts, especially towards orphans, poor women without a dowry, and the sick. He possessed, however, an intelligent notion of charity, so that while he was very charitable, he sought to obtain definitive and structural solutions to the problem of poverty; for example, giving work to the poor, thereby making his charity bear fruit. "Charity is not just giving, rather removing the need of those who receive charity and liberating them from it when possible," he wrote.

In 1533, Thomas sent out the first Augustinian friars to arrive in Mexico. He began to experience mystical ecstasies during Mass and when reading the psalms. Charles V offered him the post of Archbishop of Granada but he would not accept it. In 1544 he was nominated as Archbishop of Valencia but he continued to refuse the position until ordered to accept by his superior. There, aided by his assistant bishop, Juan Segriá, he put in order an archdiocese that for a century had not had direct pastoral government. He organized a special college for Moorish converts, and in particular an effective plan for social assistance, welfare, and charity.

Thomas composed beautiful sermons, among which stands out the Sermon on the Love of God, one of the great examples of sacred oratory of the 16th century. He enjoyed great fame as a preacher, with a plain and simple style. Charles V, upon hearing him preach, exclaimed, "This monsignor can move even the stones!", and he brought about public conversions. Some of his sermons attacked the cruelty of bullfighting. He also had a great devotion to the Virgin Mary, whose heart he compared to the burning bush of Moses that is never consumed. In 1547 he ordained as a priest the future Saint Luis Beltrán, O.P., a noted missionary in South America.

Thomas died in 1555 of angina at the age of 67. He was canonized by Pope Alexander VII on November 1, 1658. His feast day is celebrated on September 22.

Thomas is the author of various Tracts, among which is included the Soliloquy between God and the soul, on the topic of communion. Francisco de Quevedo wrote his biography. His complete writings were published in six volumes as Opera omnia, in Manila in 1881.

Thomas is the namesake and patron saint of Villanova University, near Philadelphia in the United States, which was founded and is administered by the friars of his Order, Universidad Católica de Santo Tomás de Villanueva in Havana, Cuba, St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida, USA and Villanova College, a Catholic school for boys located in Brisbane, Australia.


  • Campos y Fernández de Sevilla JF. Santo Tomás de Villanueva: Universitario, Agustino y Arzobispo en la España del siglo XVI. ISBN 987-848-978895-2
  • Isaac González Marcos, (ed.), Santo Tomás de Villanueva. 450 aniversario de su muerte. ISBN 84-95745-38-0
  • Francisco de Quevedo, Vida de Santo Tomás de Villanueva. Estudio del Epítome, edición y notas de Rafael Lazcano. ISBN 84-95745-57-7


Featured Items Panel from Litany Lane


Today's Snippet I:  The Order of St. Augustine 

Façade of the Monastery of El Escorial, Spain
The Order of St. Augustine (Latin: Ordo Sancti Augustini, abbreviated as O.S.A)—historically Ordo Eremitarum Sancti Augustini", O.E.S.A.), generally called Augustinians (but 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 of 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).



As is well known, 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., XXXIX, 1570) "De moribus clericorum". This system of life for the 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.

In 1231, two such associations of eremetical communities requested of Pope Gregory IX that they be allowed to share in following one of the approved monastic rules. The Pope charged Bonfiglio, the Bishop of Siena (1215–1252) to work on this request. Eventually they all adopted the Augustinian Rule, either voluntarily or by command of the Pope, without giving up certain peculiarities of life and dress introduced by the founder, or handed down by custom. These differences led to their being confounded with other Orders (e.g., the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Penance, which was also of eremetical origin) and gave rise to quarrels.

To remedy confusion and to ensure harmony and unity among the various religious congregations, Pope Alexander IV sought to unite them into one Order. For this purpose he commanded that two delegates be sent to Rome from each of the hermit monasteries, to discuss, under the presidency of Cardinal Richard di Santi Angeli, the question of union. The first meeting of the delegates, on 1 March 1256, 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. The Papal Bull "Licet ecclesiae catholicae", issued on 4 May 1256 (Bullarium Taurinense, 3rd ed., 635 sq.), ratifying these proceedings, is regarded as the foundation-charter of the Order of Hermits of St. Augustine. Furthermore, the pope commanded that all hermit monasteries which had sent no delegates should conform to the newly-drawn up Constitutions.

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 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 and still contributing valuable additions to knowledge. 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.

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 Congregation of Zampani in Calabria (1507) had 40 convents, 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 Father Heinrich Zolter in as many Augustinian monasteries as possible. Proles, aided by Father 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. Father 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. 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 The Most Reverend Father Robert F. Prevost, OSA, who was first elected in 2001 and was recently reelected in 2007. The prior general is elected every six years by the general chapter. The prior general is aided by four 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 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 in solemn vows and 16 in simple vows. In Central and South America, 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 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 Augustnian 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.

As of 2006 there were 11 Augustinian priories in Australia 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 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. 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 deaf and dumb children.


Many Augustinians have written ascetic works and sermons. In historical writing there are:
  • Onofrio Panvini (d. 1568)
  • Joachim Brulius (d. after 1652), who wrote a history of the colonization and Christianizing of Peru (Antwerp, 1615) and a history of China
  • Enrique Florez (d. 1773), called "the first historian of Spain", author of "Espana Sagrada"
  • Manuel Risco (d. 1801), author of a history of printing in Spain.


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. 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.


  • "Hermits of St. Augustine". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
  • 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
  • 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. 


Today's Snippet II:  University of Alcalá

University of Alcalá, Madrid
The University of Alcalá (Spanish: Universidad de Alcalá) is a public university located in Alcalá de Henares, a city 35 km northeast of Madrid in Spain, founded in 1977. The University of Alcalá is especially renowned in the Spanish-speaking world for its annual presentation of the highly prestigious Cervantes Prize.
Today's University of Alcalá preserves its traditional humanities faculties, a testimony to the university's special efforts, past and present, to promote and diffuse the Spanish language through both its studies and the Cervantes Prize, which is awarded annually by the King and Queen of Spain in the Paraninfo (Great Hall). The University has added to its time-honoured education in the humanities and social sciences new degree subjects in scientific fields such as health sciences or engineering, spread out across its different sites (the Alcalá Campus, El Encín, and Guadalajara), all of which, together with the Science and Technology Park, are a key factor in its projection abroad, while also acting as a dynamo for activities in its local region.

Miguel de Cervantes Prize

The Miguel de Cervantes Prize (Spanish: Premio de Literatura en Lengua Castellana Miguel de Cervantes), established in 1976, is awarded annually to honour the lifetime achievement of an outstanding writer in the Spanish language. The prize is similar to the Booker Prize, with its candidates from Commonwealth countries, in that it rewards authors from any Spanish-speaking nation. Unlike the Booker Prize, it is awarded only once in recognition of the recipient's overall body of work and is therefore regarded as a sort of Spanish-language Nobel Prize in Literature. The award is named after Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote.

The candidates are proposed by the Association of Spanish Language Academies, and the prize is awarded by the Ministry of Culture of Spain. The winner receives a monetary award of 125,000 euros, it is one of the richest literary prizes in the world and one of the most prestigious in the Spanish language.

The University of Spanish Language

Because of its rich tradition in the humanities, the University of Alcalá offers several programs in Spanish language and literature. Alcalingua, a Department of the University of Alcalá, offers Spanish Language and Culture courses to foreigners and develops materials for teaching Spanish as a foreign language. The University of Alcalá, together with EDUESPAÑA, grants the CEELE, Certificado de Calidad en la Enseñanza del Español como Lengua Extranjera (Quality Certificate for Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language).

International Agreements

The University of Alcalá is a party to various bilateral agreements with Institutions in non-European countries, above all with universities in Latin America and USA. Some of these agreements stipulate exchanges for first and second stage students. Like Erasmus Programme students, foreign students who take advantage of these exchange schemes are exempt of payment of tuition fees to the University of Alcalá, though they must meet their own costs of travel, accommodation and upkeep. Application to take part in these exchanges should be carried out in the university of origin. Once selected, the university of origin will inform the University of Alcalá.

Facilities and other services

The University of Alcalá is spread across three main sites:
  • The renovated 16th and 17th century buildings located in the city centre of Alcalá de Henares are home to studies in the traditional fields of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law, as well as to the School of Architecture.
  • Health Sciences, specialised experimental sciences, and the new technologies are found in faculties and university schools built from scratch on the campus just outside the city of Alcalá de Henares.
  • Part of its recent process of expansion, the development of the Guadalajara Campus deserves special mention. Here, as well as the long-standing Escuela de Magisterio (primary education teacher-training college) and the Castilla-La Mancha Health Service Nursing College, both attached to the University, may be found the Multi-departmental Building, which is home for Technical Architecture, Business Science, and Tourism.
The University of Alcalá boasts an extensive network of 14 libraries spread across its three campuses. They offer extended hours year-round and during exam periods they never close. The University also offers a wide range of sporting activities, including aikido, archery, badminton, fencing, rugby and yoga. There are also courses in snorkelling, horseback riding and mountaineering, as well as other popular sports such as football. The University has a Hall for music, dance, theatre or flamenco, as well as the University Choir, "Tuna" (a traditional student music group), and the Film Club.]


  •  Real Decreto 1502/1977, de 10 de junio, sobre creación de una nueva Universidad de Madrid, con sede en Alcalá de Henares. BOE. 30/06/1977; (155):14660-1. (in Spanish)