Add to this the fact that he was Prior General for six years from 1507 to 1513, and respected by Pope Julius II (a materialistic man, with whom Giles of Viterbo O.S.A. did not agree on political matters), and it would seem that the reform of the Order of Saint Augustine had a good chance of succeeding.
Giles personally visited many of the Augustinian houses in Italy (especially the larger and more important ones), and even a few in Germany. He implemented a consistent plan of reform for both "the roots and the branches", focused on Provincial superiors, key Augustinian houses (conventi), and the young candidates of the Order.
In many places he appointed a local agent who was charged to monitor the progress of reform on behalf of Giles.
In places that Giles was unable to visit in Italy and elsewhere, he chose a delegate (somebody brought in from another region of Italy), who imposed the same requirements.
In houses where Giles as Prior General had authority to appoint a Prior (religious superior), he often intentionally installed an Augustinian of good reputation from a different region of Italy.
In contemporary terms, Giles was a great "networker." He wrote many more letters to individual Augustinians in key positions who were achievers in reform, than he sent letters about reform to Augustinians simply because they held the office of Provincial (regional superior).
This bonus would, however, immediately became a detriment when Giles was succeeded by a man without this same network of associates.
When it came time for Giles as Prior General to ratify the election of an Augustinian Provincial (regional superior) in an area (and Provincial Chapters in Italy were then conducted annually), Giles did so only on the condition that the candidate was committed to implement reform.
The candidate also had to pledge to send Giles every month a progress report about reform. There are instances of his subsequently removing a Provincial from office in Italy for not adhering to this promised regimen.
At times Giles directed that a Provincial have copies made of a letter from Giles for distribution to each house (convento) in the province.
At this time, the Order of Saint Augustine had about 22,000 members and 1,000 houses (conventi), grouped as thirteen Augustinian Provinces in Italy and thirteen elsewhere.
(Continued on the next page.)
Photos (at right):
A camp encounter for young adults of the Parish of Saint Augustine, Buenos Aires, Argentina.