Religious Orders and Communities, religious bodies, specifically of the Christian Church, whose members live under a distinctive rule, or discipline. The members of the greater number of Christian religious orders are ordained priests, although lay members are admitted as brothers and nuns to some; a number of orders are for women only.
Augustinians, religious orders of the Roman Catholic Church whose constitution is derived originally from the Rule of St Augustine of Hippo, broadly divided into the Augustinian (or Austin) Canons, and the Augustininan Hermits (or Austin Friars), with communities of Augustinian nuns being under the jurisdiction of the Austin Friars. The Roman Synods of 1059 and 1063 exhorted the clergy to adopt a common rule to combine a monastic status with active life in the lay community, following the monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience without withdrawing from the world. As a consequence many canons throughout Christendom renounced property and established quasi-monastic groups which formed the basis of the order of Augustinian Canons. By the middle of the 12th century almost all of these bodies had adopted the Rule of St Augustine. Their rule was officially endorsed by the fourth Lateran Council in 1215. .
The Augustinian Hermits, or Austin Friars, are an entirely different group of religious tracing their origins back to 5th-century hermits in North Africa who had adopted the Rule of St Augustine. After the Vandal invasion of North Africa in 428 a number of the fugitive hermits established monastic communities in central and northern Italy. These remained independent of each other until 1244, when Pope Innocent IV consolidated them as one order; in 1256 Pope Alexander summoned them from their seclusion to take up an active life in the world. The result was one of the great medieval orders of mendicant friars (that is, friars living solely on charitable alms), which became renowned for its role in ecclesiastical and university and life, members dedicating themselves to scholarly research, the advancement of learning and foreign missions.