THE AUGUSTINIAN RECOLLECTS
21 January 2010THE AUGUSTINIAN RECOLLECTS (Sometimes in the past called the Barefooted Augustinians, or Discalced Augustinians) More fortunate than that of the German (Saxon) province was the reform of the order begun in Spain in the sixteenth century, and which then extended into Italy and France. The originator of this reform was Father Thomas of Andrada O.S.A., afterwards called Thomas of Jesus. Born in Portugal at Lisbon in 1529, he entered the Augustinian Order in his fifteenth year. Although aided in his efforts at reform by the Cardinal Infante Henry of Portugal, and his teacher, Louis of Montoya, his plans were impeded. This was at first caused by the hesitation of his brethren, then by his captivity among the Moors in 1578 during the crusade of the youthful King Sebastian of Portugal, and lastly by his death in prison which took place on 17th April 1582. The celebrated poet and scholar Fray Luis Ponce de León O.S.A. (d. 1591), of the Augustinian convento at Salamanca, took up the work of Thomas of Andrada. Appointed professor of theology at the University of Salamanca in 1561, Luis de León undertook the revision of the constitutions of his order and in 1588 Father Díaz, with the support of Philip II, established at Talavera the first Augustinian religious community of the Spanish Regular Observance. In a short time many new monasteries of Recollect (Discalced) Augustinians sprang up in Spain and were followed by others in the Spanish colonies. In 1606 Philip III sent some Recollect (Discalced) Augustinians to the Philippines where, as early as 1565, the Order of Saint Augustine had founded the first mission station on the island of Cebú. In a few years, many mission stations of the Recollect (Discalced) Augustinians sprang up in the principal places on the islands and developed a very successful missionary activity. In 1622 Pope Gregory XV permitted the erection of a separate unified congregation for the Recollect Augustinians, with its own international vicar-general. This Recollect congregation comprised four provinces: three in Spain and the Philippine province, to which was later added that of Peru. When the Recollect (Discalced) Augustinians in Spain were either put to death or obliged to flee, during the revolution of 1835, they continued to flourish in the Philippines and in South America. In Italy, Father Andrés Díaz introduced the reformed congregations in 1592, the first house being that of Our Lady of the Olives, at Naples, which was soon followed by others at Rome and elsewhere. As early as 1624 Pope Urban VIII permitted the division of the Italian congregations of Recollect Augustinians into four provinces (and later there were nine). In 1626 a house of this congregation was founded at Prague and another at Vienna, in 1631, of which the celebrated Abraham a Sancta Clara was a member in the eighteenth century. In France, Fathers François Amet and Matthew of Saint Frances, of Villar-Benoit, completed the reform of the order in 1596. The French Congregation of Recollect Augustinians comprised three provinces, of which all the houses were destroyed during the French Revolution. The Recollect Augustinians finally received their complete independence from the Prior General of the Order of Saint Augustine in 1912. Currently the Order is divided into eight provinces (regions), works in 19 countries, and consists of approximately 1,240 members. The official languages of the Order are Spanish, English, and Portuguese.