After his conversion to Christianity, Augustine established a monastic community for himself and his friends and spent the next three years in study, dialogue, and prayer. During this time he wrote the Rule of St. Augustine, which laid out the foundations for living a religious life. From that day to now, Augustinians have lived in fraternal communities.

When Augustine became a bishop, he established a monastery in his episcopal house. Augustine's monastery was different from those which had come before it, because monks living under his rule were expected to continue their pastoral duties instead of living a purely contemplative life.

The official history of the Order of St. Augustine began in 1243, when Pope Innocent IV united several groups of hermits who had each been following the Rule of St. Augustine into a single religious order and directed them to take up preaching and pastoral care in the cities of Europe.

The Order spread quickly, in part because it spread from many communities rather than a single parent monastery, and in less than a hundred years could be found in many places in Spain, Germany, and France, numbering nearly 6,000 friars. In the cities where they practiced, the Augustinians built churches, libraries, and schools, though they continued to observe individual and communal poverty in their communities. Along with the Franciscans, Dominicans, and Carmelites, the Augustinians were one of the four mendicant orders of the Middle Ages, supporting themselves entirely by begging.

By 1750, membership in the order had peaked at around 18,000 friars. After the Protestant Reformation, however, things changed. Entire provinces disappeared, and some Augustinian friars were burned at the stake. During The French Revolution, most of the 157 Augustinian monasteries in France were destroyed. In 1835, 2/3 of the monasteries in Spain were suppressed; in 1860, the monasteries in Mexico (where the Augustinians had been instrumental in founding the University of Mexico) were suppressed. Russia followed, in 1864, the Kingdom of Hanover in 1876, and the Augustinians were virtually eliminated in the Philippines during the 1896 uprising. Today, the Augustinians number about 3,000 priests and 1,100 nuns spread across 52 nations.

The Augustinians arrived in the United States in 1796, and established the first Augustinian parish in the New World -- St. Augustine's Parish, in Philadelphia. They founded Villanova University in 1842.

The basic unit of the Augustinian order is the house, which is a group of three or more friars living in one house or several nearby houses. A province is a grouping of 5 or more houses comprising at least 50 friars. In the United States, there are three provinces: one based in Villanova, one based in Chicago, and one based in San Diego.

The chief house of the order is the International College of St. Monica (Augustine's mother), in Rome. The Augustinians are also the guardians of the tomb of St. Augustine at the Church of San Pietro in Pavia. The sacristan of the papal palace has been an Augustinian since the end of the thirteenth century; their permanent status in that role was ratified by Pope Alexander IV.

Notable Augustinians include

The Augustinians practice and propagate veneration of the Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of Good Counsel.

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