AUGUSTINIANS FOR AND AGAINST MARTIN LUTHER (1)
The prominence of members of the Order of Saint Augustine in the Protestant Reformation cannot be denied.
Even so, it can be asserted that the number of Augustinians involved was a tiny fraction – and not even enough to be described as a sizeable minority – of Augustinian membership.
In Germany there were, to mention a few, Martin Luther, Wenzeslaus Link, Johaan Lang "the Greek", and Gabriel Zwilling.
In England there were three Augustinians George Browne (the first Anglican bishop of Dublin), Miles Coverdale (the first to translate the whole Bible into English), and Robert Barnes (who was to be burned to death at the stake).
In Ireland, Richard Nangle (the first Anglican bishop of Clonfert); in the Low Countries, a group of Augustinians with their prior (superior), Jacob Praepositus, and the famed Hendrick van Zutphen whose companions there and at Tournai supplied the first Lutheran martyrs - ones whom Luther lauded in a hymn he composed.
In France, the Augustinian houses (conventi) in Paris, Toulouse, Narbonne and Bourges became known as heretical centres, and the Augustinian, Jean Chatelain died at the stake at Metz.
In Italy, Agostino Mainardi de Piemonte (who, paradoxically, implicated Ignatius of Loyola with the Roman Inquisition), Giulio della Rovere, Ambrogio de Milano, and Nicolo da Verona were apostles of the evangelism which in several cases fringed on defiant heresy.
As well, an equal number of members of the order were prominent anti-Lutherans and participants in the Counter Reformation.
Many of these Augustinians wrote books and tracts in defence of Catholic doctrine. They do so out of personal conviction, and no doubt also as an attempt to rebuild esteem for the Order after Luther's actions.
In Germany, there was the strength and unwavering conviction of two Augustinians who were professors at the University of Erfurt.
They were Johannes Nathin and Bartholomäus von Usingen.
The former had taught theology to Luther as a young Augustinian, and, even earlier again, von Usingen had taught him philosophy in the faculty of arts at Erfurt when both of them had still been laymen.
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Photos (at right):
The former Augustinian priory (convento) at Wittenberg, which the prince elector granted to Martin Luther as his residence in 1524. It was here that Robert Barnes, an ex-Augustinian from England, met Luther.