This article needs additional citations for verification. All canons regular are to be distinguished from secular canons who belong to a community of priests attached to a church but do not take vows or live in common under a Rule. Among canons regular most, but not all, have followed the Rule of St. Augustine and thus les Constitutions Des Chanoines Reguliers De Windesheim: Constitutions Des Chanoines Reguliers De Windesheim PDF been called Augustinian Canons, known sometimes in English as Austin Canons or Black Canons, from their black habits.
However, one particular group of canons regular who also follow the Rule of St. Augustine are the Premonstratensians or Norbertines, sometimes called in English White Canons, from their white habits. Canons regular live together in community. The first communities of canons took vows of common property and stability. As a later development, they now usually take the three vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience though some Orders or congregations of canons regular have retained the vow of stability.
When, in and after the 11th century, the various congregations of canons regular were formed, and adopted the Rule of St. Augustine, they were usually called Canonici Regulares Ordinis S. Augustini Congregationis, and in England « Austin Canons » or « Black Canons », but there have always been canons regular who never adopted the Rule of St. By 1125 hundreds of communities of canons had sprung up in Western Europe. Usually they were quite independent of one another, and varied in their ministries. One obvious place where a group of priests was required was within a cathedral, where there were many Masses to celebrate and the Divine Office to be prayed together in community. Monks, who in the Western tradition are members of monastic religious orders such as the various branches of Benedictines, or the Carthusians whose members in their history have often been laymen not priests.
16th century, examples being the Theatines or the Barnabites. The members of these orders are priests who take religious vows and have an active apostolic life. The Friars of Saint Augustine, sometimes called simply Augustinians or in English Augustinian friars or Austin friars, who are one of the mendicant orders. The Order of Canons Regular is necessarily constituted by religious clerics, because they are essentially destined to those works which relate to the Divine mysteries, whereas it is not so with the monastic Orders. Augustine, a canon regular professes two things, « sanctitatem et clericatum ». Apostles by preaching, teaching, and the administration of the sacraments, or by giving hospitality to pilgrims and travellers, and tending the sick. The canons regular do not confine themselves exclusively to canonical functions.
They also give hospitality to pilgrims and travelers on the Great St. Bernard and on the Simplon, and in former times the hospitals of St. Augustine of Hippo did not found the order of canons regular, not even those who are called Austin Canons. There were canons regular before St. From the 4th to the middle of the 11th century, the communities of canons were established exclusively by bishops.
The oldest form of canonical life was known as « Ordo Antiquus ». The first who successfully united the clerical state with the monastic observance was St Eusebius, Bishop of Vercelli. This way of living was also established by St Zeno, Bishop of Verona, and St. It was under St Augustine that the « canonical life » reached its apotheosis. To live this out in the midst of like-minded confreres was the goal of his monastic foundations in Thagaste, in the « Garden Monastery » at Hippo and at his bishop’s house. The invasion of Africa by the Vandals destroyed the Augustinian foundation but we can deduce it as almost certain that it took refuge in Gaul.
Austin had given to the clerics who lived with him soon spread and were adopted by other religious communities of canons regular not only in Africa, but in Italy, in France and elsewhere. Over time there crept in the abuses in clerical life of concubinage and independent living with the scandals and disedification of the faithful which followed. Augustine, and its chief provisions were that the ecclesiastics who adopted it had to live in common under the episcopal roof, recite common prayers, perform a certain amount of manual labour, keep silence at certain times, and go to confession twice a year. This included a rule of 147 articles, known as the Rule of Aix, to be applied to all canons. These statues were held as binding. This soon led to differences of income, consequently to avarice, covetousness, and the partial destruction of the canonical life. Pope Gregory VII, culminating in the Lateran Synod of 1059.