Augustinians in Ireland

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XX

Although this is not an ecclesiastical history, some brief account of the monks, and of the monasteries founded in Ireland about this period, will be necessary. The earliest foundations were houses of the Cistercian Order and the Augustinians. The Augustinian Order, as its name implies, was originally founded by St. Augustine, the great Archbishop of Hippo, in Africa. His rule has been adopted and adapted by the founders of several congregations of men and women. The great Benedictine Order owes its origin to the Patriarch of the West, so famous for his rejection of the nobility of earth, that he might attain more securely to the ranks of the noble in heaven. This Order was introduced into England at an early period. It became still more popular and distinguished when St. Bernard preached under the mantle of Benedict, and showed how austerity towards himself and tenderness towards others could be combined in its highest perfection.

The twin Orders of St. Dominic and St. Francis, founded in the early part of the thirteenth century—the one by a Spanish nobleman, the other by an Italian merchant—were established in Ireland in the very lifetime of their founders. Nothing now remains of the glories of their ancient houses, on which the patrons had expended so much wealth, and the artist so much skill; but their memory still lives in the hearts of the people, and there are few places in the country without traditions which point out the spot where a Franciscan was martyred, or a Dominican taken in the act of administering to the spiritual necessities of the people.