A fifth grouping was mentioned in Licet ecclesiae catholicae, the papal bull by Pope Alexander IV that called for the Grand Union. It was the Hermits of Favali, or of Monte Favale, a place in the Diocese of Pesaro, Italy. Between 1244 and 1250 they had been part of the Williamites. In 1251 they became independent again, and then in 1255 had themselves incorporated into the Cistercian Order. They were not, therefore, part of the Grand Union of 1256, although they were mentioned in the bull of invitation that had been issued for the Grand Union, Licet ecclesiae catholicae.A Group meant to be involved or not?
Another eremitical (hermit) group also had hastened to safeguard its independence and current practices. The Hermits of Carnaldoli seemed legally to be within the embrace of the bull, Licet ecclesiae catholicae, on 9th April 1256 that had convoked the Grand Union, but did not send delegates to the meeting. Instead, the Hermits of Carnaldoli made strenuous efforts to preserve their autonomy. They received permission to continue as a separate Order at the same time as had the Williamites on 22nd August 1256. In the end, Cardinal Richard Annabaldi had to recognize that only homogeneous groups could join in an enduring combination.
Groups not involved
There are two other religious congregations that, for reasons that will become clear hereunder, have mistakenly been thought to have been part of the Grand Union of 1256. Neither group had, in fact, been invited to participate in it. Into this category fall the "Poor Catholics." The "Poor Catholics" had houses in Lombardy, and had adopted the Rule of Augustine as early as 1238. The Grand Union of the Order of Hermits of Saint Augustine took place on 9th April 1256. Soon afterwards, on 1st August 1256 the Provincial of the "Poor Catholics" placed the communities of the Province of Lombardy into the Order of Saint Augustine because of a directive from the Augustinian Order's Cardinal Protector, Richard Annibaldi.
The "poor Catholics" had a troubled past. They were founded by Durand de Huesca, who had been a disciple of Valdes of Lyons (died 1206), who had been condemned as a heretic. In 1247 the bishops of Narbonne and Elne complained to the Pope that the Poor Catholics were preaching without permission of the local bishops, and spreading false doctrines. As a result, Pope Innocent IV forbade them to preach and demanded that they join one of the approved religious orders. Their amalgamation into the Order of Saint Augustine was then approved by Pope Alexander IV in October 1257, i.e., in the year after the Grand Union. But the "Poor Catholics" proceeded to withdraw from this forced union, quite contrary to the papal decision. In Milan, the Poor Catholics members at their Church and Convento of St Augustine had been exchanged with some Augustinians from St Mark's. The Poor Catholics became dissatisfied with this, returned to St Augustine's in the middle of the night and drove out the new occupants by force of arms.
Because of the unsettled conditions within the Archdiocese of Milan, the Poor Catholics back in St Augustine's were able to keep their independence until 1272, when the ten remaining Poor Catholics there were reunited to the Order of Saint Augustine by the force of both ecclesiastical and civil authority. In order to avoid further scandals the Convento of St Augustine was demolished, and the church lasted until demolished because of other circumstances during the following century.
A second group that have been mistaken as being in some way involved in the Grand Union were the Order of Penitent Brothers of Jesus Christ (or "Brothers of Sack Cloth" or the "Sack Friars"). They were named thus because their habit (everyday religious garment) was made of that least expensive material. In somewhat similar fashion to the "Poor Catholics" their religious order was forcibly closed. Individual members were permitted to keep living their vows until death, and some of them opted to change to other religious orders Once unoccupied, some of their former houses came into possession of the Order of Saint Augustine, but the Sack Friars certainly were not as a religious order drawn into the Augustinian Grand Union of 1256. (In fact, their "troubles" with Rome did not begin until 1274.) The error in suggesting their involvement in the Grand Union of 1256 may have arisen because some of their vacated houses came into Augustinian possession, as explained above. This error was first published in 1357 by an Augustinian scholar and historian, Jordan of Saxony O.S.A. - and subsequently repeated for centuries afterwards.
The Sack Friars began in France in 1248 in the region of Toulouse, adopting the Rule of Augustine. Seeing they were founded after the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, by its Canon 13 they were suppressed by the Second Council of Lyons in 1274. After they appealed unsuccessfully to Rome a number of times, their houses were handed over to other religious orders between 1290 and 1317. This gave the Augustinians as many as fifteen new communities in France, a house in Barcelona (Spain) in 1295 and another in Esslingen (Germany) in 1325. King Philip IV of France gave their former house in Paris to the fifth international leader of the Order of Saint Augustine (i.e., to the Prior General), Giles of Rome. To this venue was transferred the famous studium generale (general house of study) of the Order of Saint Augustine in Paris. In October 1290, Pope Nicholas IV ordered that their house at Saint John of Acre (in the Holy Land) be given to the Augustinians. The city, however, fell to the Turks before any Augustinians could be sent to take possession of it.
For further reading
Cardinal Richard Annibaldi. By Francis Roth O.S.A. A long article that appeared in English in successive issues of the scholarly historical periodical, Augustiniana, of the Augustinian Historical Institute of Louvain, Belgium in 1952-1954. Chapter 3 of the article, in Augustiniana of December 1952, specifically deals with this topic. Cf. pp. 230-247.