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a general practice in the Benedictine order to admit none into it, who were not sufficiently instructed to recite the office in the choir ; but it was not required that they should be priests, or even be in holy orders. All St. Bernard's brothers were professed religious, but none of them were in orders.—Afterwards the Benedictines judged it advisable to admit into their order many, who, from ignorance, or some other circumstance, were incapable of the duty of the choir, and to employ them in the menial duties or other laborious employments of the house. This introduced Lay Brothers into the Benedictine order. At first, they were rather attached to the general body of the order, than a portion of it; but in time they were acknowledged, both by the church and the order, to be a portion of the order, and in the strictest sense of the word to be professed religious. In its admission of Lay Brothers, the Benedictine order has been followed by all other religious orders, both men and wo
In 1322, the Council of Vienne ordered all monks to enter into the order of priesthood, and to be instructed for it accordingly. The monks of Vallombrosa in Tuscany are the first among whom Lay Brothers are found with
THE CANONS REGULAR OF ST. AUGUSTIN derive their origin from certain respectable ecclesiastics, who, in the 8th century, formed themselves into a kind of middle order, between the monks and the secular clergy. They adopted so much of the monastic discipline, as to have their dwellings and table in common, and to assemble, at stated hours, for the divine service; but they made no vows ; and often discharged the functions of the holy ministry in churches committed to their care.
Thus, they rendered essen.ial service to religion.-By degrees, they degene. rated; but, in the 12th century, a considerable reformation was introduced among them, under the auspices of Pope Nicholas the second. Some of the members, among whom it was introduced, formed themselves into communities, which had a common dwelling and common table, but each individual, after contributing to the general stock, employed the fruits and revenues of his benefices, 'as he thought expedient. Others, in consequence of the zealous exhortations of Ivo, bishop of Chartres, subjected themselves to an austere mode of life; they renounced their worldly possessions, all private property, and lived in a manner resembling the austerity and discipline of a monastic life. This
rise to the distinction between the secular and the regular canons. The former observed the decree of Nicholas the second; the latter conformed to the directions of Ivo; and these being formed on the rules and suggestions laid down by St. Augustin, in his Epistles, the observers of them became generally called the Regular Canons of St. Augustin. They kept public schools for the instruction of youth, and exercised a variety of functions, which rendered them extremely useful to the church. A spirit of relaxation having found its way into the order, St. Norbert attempted to restore it to its primitive severity. He first introduced his reform into his convent at Prèmontré in Picardy; it spread throughout Europe with great rapidity; and, from the convent, in which it was first established, the communities, which embraced it, were call. ed the Premonstratenses.
It remains to add, that Convents of Nuns were founded, the institutes of which corresponded with those of the religious orders and congregations which we have noticed, and with some of their principal reforms.
For many centuries, the Benedictines, and the
congregations which emanated from them, and the Canons of St. Augustin, constituted the only monastic orders of the West : but, in the 19th century, the MENDICANT Orders arose: these were, the Franciscans, the Dominicans, the Carmelites, and the Hermits of St. Augustin.
V. 1. The Franciscans were founded by St. Francis, the son of a merchant of Assissium in the province of Umbria. He had little human learning, but, in the science of the saints, he had few equals. From humility, he called the brethren of his order, Friars-minors, or, the Little Brethren, and composed a rule for them, which the Pope approved. They chiefly exerted themselves in the laborious parts of the sacred ministry. In hospitals, in prisons, among the lowest orders of the poor, in every place, where labor or danger attended the exercise of the functions of the ministry, or where there was a total absence of remuneration, the Franciscan friars were sure to be found. But it was not only in the lower walks of the ministry that they labored, many
of them were eminent for their learning, many have filled the highest dignities in the church, and some have worn the Triple Crown.
There are three orders of St. Francis. The first of them, soon after the decease of St. Francis, divaricated into the Conventual Friars, who admitted some mitigations into their practice of the rule, and the Observantine Friars, who derived their name from their stricter observance of it. In France they were called Cordeliers, from a cord with which they girded their habit. Reforms have sometimes been introduced among the Observantines; the principal of the reformed congregations are, the Recollects, or Grey Friars, who received their name from the Spanish word Ricogidios, which signifies reformed; and the Capucins, who received their appellation from a patch, worn by them on the back of their habits.
The Second Order of St. Francis, is that of the Poor Clares, and is remarkable for its extreme severity.
The Third Order of St. Francis, was instituted by him for persons of both sexes, living in the world, but united by certain rules and exercises compatible with a secular life ; and not binding under sin, but serving as rules for their directions. This institute was imitated by the Dominicans and Carmelites. There were some monasteries, particularly in Flanders, of Nuns, who were called of the Third Order of St. Francis : they vowed inclosure, and had a mitigated rule.
V. 2. St. Dominic, from whom the Dominicans derive their name, originally adopted, for the government of his disciples, the rule of the Canons Regular of St. Augustin. Afterwards he substituted for it the rule of St Benedict ; but with so many alterations, as almost made it a new rule. Public instruction was its great object : on this account, the disciples of St. Dominic were, at first, called Preaching Friars.
V. 3. Some writers have endeavoured to derive the origin of the Carmelites from Elias. They allege, that, after the decease of that prophet, an uninterrupted succession of hermits, inhabited Mount Carmel, down to the time of Christ and his Apostles; and that, having embraced, in the earliest years of christianity, the Christian religion, they continued their succession to the twelfth or thirteenth century, when the rule of the Carmelites, as it is now observed, was communicated to St. Simon Stock, their general, by divine revelation. At that time, they were established at Palestine : Alberic, their fifth general in succession from St. Simon Stock, removed from Palestine ; and houses of the order were established in many parts of Europe. A reform wes introduced into the order by the exertions of St. Theresa. Those who embraced the reform, were, from their not wearing shoes, called the Discalceated, or Unshodden Carmelites, in opposition to those, who continued Calceated, or shodden.
V. 4. The Hermits of St. Austin, derive their institute from a bull of Pope Alexander IV. which collected into one order, under that name, several orders of hermits, and prescribed a rule for their government.
V. 5. The four orders, which we have mentioned, are the only orders, which the church has acknowledged to be mendicant. An order is considered to be mendicant, in the proper import of that word, when it has no fixed income, and derives its whole subsistence from casual and uncertain bounty, obtained by personal mendicity. To that, St. Francis did not wish his brethren to have recourse, till they had endeavoured to earn a competent subsistence by labor, and found their earnings insufficient. “ With my own hands," he
says, in his testament, “ I labored and wish to labor ; and I earnestly wish all my brethren to labor incessantly, for a decent livelihood. Let those, who have not learned any laborious employment, learn one; not from an improper desire of the profit of labor, but, as a good example, and to keep off idleness : and, when we do not receive the wages of our labor, let us then approach the table of the Lord, and beg from door to door.” But soon after the decease of St. Francis, the exertions, equally incessant and laborious, of his disciples, for the spiritual welfare of the faithful, appeared, in the universal opinion of the church, to be both incompatible with manual labor, and much more