THE THREAT OF SUPPRESSION, 1274 - 1298.
Between the thirtieth and fifty-fourth years of the existence of the Order, there was a possibility that the Order might be suppressed.
Care needs to be taken not to exaggerate this situation, but it was nevertheless a real one.
No doubt it was of great concern for the generation of Augustinians who had to live through it.
In 1215 the Fourth Lateran Council in Rome had forbidden the foundation of any new religious orders, and in 1274 the Second Council of Lyons made that directive more specific.
Canon 13 of the Second Council of Lyons in 1274 proceeded to suppress all orders founded since 1215 that did not have the approval of the Holy See (the Pope), and forbade those that were approved since 1215 to admit any further candidates to religious profession, to establish new religious houses, or to dispose of any property in their possession.
The Dominican and Franciscan Orders were specifically exempted, and the Augustinian and Carmelite Orders were permitted to continue "as they are until we shall have decided otherwise." In other words, they were exempt from Canon 13 of the Second Council of Lyons "until further notice."
This was akin to a stay of execution that could suddenly be withdrawn at any time in the future. Until the Augustinians experienced how that "stay of execution" was or was not going to be applied in the future, the Augustinians had reason for concern.
The Order had not been drawn together until its Grand Union of 1256, although some communities within the various constituent eremitical groups that had joined the Grand Union had existed before the year 1215.
In other words, would it be taken that suppression was possible because the Order as an official entity did not begin under its own name until the year 1256?
Or would it be taken that, because some of its houses had existed before 1215, the whole Order would be exempt from suppression?
The admonition about not over-dramatising this development is included because the Popes of the era generally promoted religious orders. At the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 and at the Second Council of Lyons in 1274 in the presence of the Pope the bishops wanted some control of and some protection against what they regarded as the excessive number and proliferation of religious orders.
At the time of the Second Council of Lyons in 1274, the Cardinal Protector of the Order of Saint Augustine was Richard Annibaldi. By the year 1274 he was an old man who was crippled with arthritis. He was two years from death, and in retirement at Molaria near Frascati in northern Italy. He was physically far away from the deliberations at Lyons in France.
It is uncertain if Annibaldi exerted influence on the pope. It had often been conjectured, nevertheless, that it was only the intervention of Annibaldi that saved the Order of Saint Augustine from suppression. According to the Franciscan chronicler Salimbene, Pope Gregory X had planned to suppress the Augustinians until Annibaldi intervened.
An extant letter shows that the pope held Annabaldi in esteem. Furthermore Pope Gregory X shared Annibaldi's pro-Germanic policy, and the Augustinians had many houses in German lands and the support of the bishops and cities in which they served there.
Certainly, an early draft of the Council of Lyons used the phrase that the Carmelites and Augustinians were Orders "claiming to have been established before the said council (i.e., Lateran IV)" - the word "claiming" was removed from the final draft.
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