Even before Boniface VIII guaranteed their continuance the Augustinians must have been somehow reassured concerning their future, otherwise, their renewed spirit of enterprise could not be explained. For example, shortly after Pope Gregory's death in 1285 they moved into Ireland. In England itself a great building activity is evident in all houses, and at least five new foundations were made in the final decade of the thirteenth century.
And so the words of one Pope in 1274 were counteracted by the words of another Pope in 1298, but not without twenty-four years of concern for the members of the Order in the interim. In 1299 Boniface VIII reconfirmed their exemption from episcopal jurisdiction, under immediate obedience to the pope. The Order of Saint Augustine was thus secure.
In 1303 Boniface further reconfirmed the Order's participation in the same privileges concerning preaching, sacramental confession and the burial of the laity as were possessed by the members of both the Franciscan and Dominican mendicant orders.
During these anxious years for the Order between 1274 and 1298, there were various steps taken corporately by the Order of Saint Augustine that were at least partially influenced by a desire to optimise the Order's chances of being permitted a continued existence.
The Order's response was a call to unity that was without precedent in the history of religious orders up until that time. For example, deviations in the black-coloured Augustinian habit (choir vestment) were strongly condemned, and a single theology imposed.
In 1287 the Augustinian General Chapter in Florence decreed that all present and future teaching and preaching were to be based on the work of the Order's greatest theologian, Giles of Rome O.S.A.
The Augustinian Order was seeking to increase its inner strength by reinforcing its unity and uniformity. Through its promotion of higher learning at its numerous studia generale (international houses of study for its candidates) in Paris (1259), Oxford (1267), Cambridge (c. 1289) and elsewhere, it increasingly developed its theology and its identity ("myth") in the context of being both the intellectual and fraternal sons of Augustine.
Unlike the Sack Friars who were disbanded against their will as a result of the Council of Lyons in 1275, the Augustinian Order had the intellectual and psychological power to challenge the Council and to find a political way to survive suppression.
(Continued on the next page.)
For further reading.
In 1274 the Council of Lyons decreed the end of various "new religious orders." The book mentioned below deals comparatively with how four orders responded and reacted to this threat of suppression. Two orders, i.e., the Augustinians and Carmelites survived this challenge, but the other two orders, i.e., the Friars of the Sack and the Pied Friars, were forced to disband:
The Other Friars: Carmelite, Augustinian, Sack and Pied Friars in the Middle Ages. By Frances Andrews, Woodbridge, Suffolk, England: The Boydell Press, 2006. ISBN 1 84383 258 5. Hardcover. 261 pp.