Numerous Augustinian religious groups - together classified as Augustinian Canons Regular - formed in Europe in the eleventh century.
They then coexisted with today's Order of (Hermits of) Saint Augustine that began with the Grand Union
of the year 1256.
The Augustinian Canons Regular and the Order of (Hermits of) Saint Augustine have both existed right to the present day as separate Augustinian religious congregations.
The term "canon" initially referred to a diocesan priest who lived in a community of priests in a cathedral or collegiate church.
They had the obligation to pray the Divine Office together in the choir stalls within the sanctuary, which were situated at right angles to the main altar between it and the communion rails.
Once groups of these canons (see next paragraph) opted to live by a religious Rule (i.e., to become "Regular"), they became known by the term, Canons Regular.
In an era when the long dominance of the Benedictine Order upon Church life in Europe was decreasing, the canons regular grew out of the earlier institutes of canonical life, in consequence of the strong encouragement of Lateran Synod (Rome) in the year 1059.
The clergy of some cathedrals in England (e.g., Carlisle), and of a great number of collegiate churches all over Western Europe, responded to the appeal.
When searching for a rule of life suited to the new regime, the canons almost universally accepted the relatively brief Rule of Augustine. Some groups of canons, however, did not adopt the Rule
(Continued on the next page.)