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St. Botolph's Priory, Colchester (Classic Reprint)

St. Botolph's Priory, Colchester (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from St. Botolph's Priory, Colchester

Augustinian Canons Regular followed the Rule of St. Augustine of Hippo. A text of this Rule may be found in the Benedictine edition of the works of St. Augustine, printed in Paris, 1836, together with a letter written by the Saint to a Society of devout women, from which the Rule was afterwards adapted for men.

The Rule deals with general principles, and it must have been necessary from an early stage of the history of the Order to supplement it by a set of more detailed directions. These were known as Observances, and became practically part of the Rule, although varying slightly in different houses. Several Observances have come down to us, notably those of the Abbey of St. Victor at Paris, and of St. Denis at Reims. Of English houses the Observances of Barnwell Priory near Cambridge have been printed by the late J. W. Clark of Cambridge, and are of particular interest here, as that house was "confederate" with the Priories of Colchester and Huntingdon.

The Rule was divided into seven chapters, one of which was read each morning in the Chapter-house, so that the whole Rule was read through each week. It was from the daily reading of this Chapter that the Chapter-house took its name. The brethren are exhorted to live at peace with each other, forgetting what their social position had been in the world; to keep the appointed hours of prayer scrupulously; to fast as much as is consistent with good health, and not to envy those who are too weakly to endure austerities, "for it is better to want less than to have more." No brother is to go outside the bounds of the house alone, but must have a companion, and is to be careful to have nothing to do with women, though he is not forbidden to look at them.

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