Although Cardinal Richard Annibaldi was thus frustrated in his determination to have the Williamites in Tuscany remain within the Augustinian Order, he was successful elsewhere.
About twenty Williamite communities in Central Europe and Hungary stayed with the Order of Saint Augustine. This gave the Order an impetus and an immediate presence in these areas beyond the Alps.
This settlement, under the direction of Annibaldi, took a decade to finalise, and received papal approval on 10th August 1266.
So that the allocation of the Williamite houses to either the Order of Saint Augustine or a revived Williamite Order could not flare up subsequently, Annibaldi threatened both orders with canonical penalties and heavy fines if they ever raised the matter again with Rome.
The Williamites wanted to preserve their custom of holding their property in common, thus not obliging themselves to complete poverty and begging; the latter goals were what the Augustinians and other mendicant orders aspired to.
Annibaldi had indicated the preference of the Roman Curia for the mendicant orders dedicated to the pastoral ministry and to other forms of public apostolate, as compared to the followers of the eremitical (hermit) ideal, which was the way of life that the majority of Williamite communities had chosen to retain.
As a separate religious order subsequently, the Williamites survived the Protestant Reformation only with difficulty, and finally ceased to exist at the time of secularization at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
Although a bull of 1257 by Pope Alexander IV had stated that he had charged Cardinal Richard Annibaldi to combine “all hermits of any Order whatsoever,” it had became evident, however, that this plan was too ambitious. As well as the Williamites other eremitical Orders hastened to safeguard their independence.
The Hermits of Camaldoli for example who seemed affected by the bull even though they had sent no delegates to the Grand Union made strenuous efforts to preserve their autonomy. They received permission to continue as a separate Order at the same time as the Williamites.
In the end, Cardinal Richard had to recognize that only homogeneous groups could join in an enduring combination.
(Continued on the next page.)
Photos (at right).
An Augustinian priest with pupils at the high school in the Escorial Palace, Madid.