A congregation of hermits named from the hill of Brettino near Fano, Italy, on which their first monastery was built. Founded apparently between 1200 and 1215, they later (1228) adopted the rule of St. augustine as one of those permitted by the Fourth lateran council and as best suited to their purpose. Their constitutions, approved in 1235, reveal a way of life stressing bodily mortification and poverty. It was often charged that a similarity in their form of dress to that of the Franciscans occasioned their obtaining alms that would otherwise have gone to the Friars Minor. Their rapid growth in numbers seems traceable mainly to the attractive simplicity of their life; priest members of the congregation were engaged in apostolic works. In the Great Union of 1256, they and other existing hermit congregations were joined together into one Order of Hermit Friars of St. Augustine (see augustinians).
Bibliography: Sources. "Bullarium ordinis eremitarum S. Augustini: Periodus formationis, 1187–1256," ed. b. van luijk, Augustiniana, 12 (1962) 161–195, 358–390; 13 (1963) 474–510; 14 (1964) 216–249. Literature. f. roth, "Cardinal Richard Annibaldi: First Protector of the Augustinian Order, 1243–76," ibid., 2(1952) 26–60, 108–149, esp. 132–138.
[j. e. bresnahan]