Shortly after his baptism in 386, St. Augustine (354-430), decided with some friends, to establish a type of religious life, which would be inspired by the early community of Jerusalem. He did this first as a layman at Tagaste and then at Hippo as a priest and later as bishop. This ideal of the religious life spread through the north of Roman Africa, and was influenced by his writings, especially the Rule and those documents that refer to his conception of the monastic life. For this reason, the Augustinian Order from its very beginning has recognized him as its founder and spiritual guide, not only because it received the Rule and the name of the Order from him, but also because it has received from him its doctrine and spirituality. [Adapted from the Constitutions of the Order 2008, n. 2]
In the thirteenth century the Apostolic See promoted the formation of the Mendicant Orders. The Pope was Innocent IV, and he called together some groups of hermits of Tuscany. With the Rule of St. Augustine as his basis, he determined the norms according to which they were to be united and organized. From this the Order of Hermits of Saint Augustine was established in March 1244. This first nucleus was consolidated and increased in the Grand Union of 9 April 1256 promoted by Pope Alexander IV. So the Order is one of the mendicant religious orders that originated in 13th century Europe to minister to the people of emerging urban centres.
Since then the Order quickly spread to many parts of the world. Today there are over 2,700 Augustinians serving in around 40 countries in the various continents.
There are a variety of ministries in which Augustinians are involved. What unites Augustinians is the living of religious life under the Rule of St Augustine with its emphasis on community life, prayer and service motivated by love.
The man who is entrusted with the leadership of the Order is the Prior General who resides in Rome. The current Prior General is Fr Robert Prevost OSA.
There are also groups of Augustinian Contemplative Sisters who are united to the Order as well as other apostolic congregations of sisters who are affiliated to the Augustinians.
The Augustinian emblem unites the heart pierced by the burning arrow (symbol of our deepest selves being absorbed by God's powerful love) with the book (symbol of the intellect searching for Truth).
Countries where Augustinians reside and/or minister:
Europe: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, United Kingdom, Vatican City
Asia-Pacific: Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Philippines
Africa: Algeria, Benin, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania
America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela