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Hieronymites, a common name for several congregations of hermits living according to the rule of St Augustine with supplementary regulations taken from St Jerome's writings. Their traditional habit is a white tunic with brown hooded scapular and brown mantle.[115117]



The Iberian Hieronymites

Established near Toledomarker in 1374, the Order soon became popular in Spainmarker and Portugalmarker, and in 1415 it numbered 25 houses. It possessed some of the most famous monasteries in the Peninsula, including the royal monastery of Santa Maria de Guadalupemarker in Extremaduramarker, the royal monastery of Belemmarker near Lisbonmarker, and the magnificent monastery built by Philip II of Spain at the Escorialmarker.

Though the manner of life was very austere, the Hieronymites also devoted themselves to study and to active ministry, possessing great influence both at courts of Spainmarker and Portugalmarker. They went to Spanish and Portuguese America and played a considerable part in bringing Christianity to the peoples of that continent. The Hieronymite nuns, founded in 1375, also became numerous in the Iberian Peninsula.

The order declined during the 18th century and was completely suppressed in 1835. At that time, there were 48 monasteries and about a thousand monks. The fate of the houses was diverse: most fell into ruins, others were given to other religious orders; still more became breweries, barns, or holiday homes.

However, according to Canon Law, only the Holy See may suppress a religious order, and the Holy See possesses the right to restore that order should it see fit.In 1925, the Hieronymite nuns (who were not affected by the suppression), petitioned the Holy See for a restoration of the male order and this was granted, with a new community of monks being established at the Monastery of Santa Maria del Parral in Segoviamarker. However, the troubles of the Republic of 1931 and the civil war of 1936-1939 prevented any real progress until the general government of the Order was constituted in 1969.

As of 2008 two communities existed, one in Santa Maria del Parral and the other in San Jeronimo de Yustemarker (Cáceres). The Hieronymite Order is a monastic institution, now purely contemplative. Through solitude and silence, assiduous prayer and healthy penance, the Order attempts to bring its monks into closer union with God. The Hieronymite is conscious that the more intensely he dedicates himself to the monastic life, the more fruitful becomes the life of the Church as a whole. Hieronymites believe that their prayer can have a profound impact on the world outside the monastery.

In this climate, the life of the Hieronymite monk is developed, with the morning usually being dedicated manual work, the normal means of support for the monks. Afternoons are dedicated to contemplation, prayer and study. Throughout the course of the day, the monks also gather for the singing of the Liturgy of the Hours as well as the celebration of the Eucharist. The Hieronymite strives to allow these moments of prayer to flow through his way of life, so that his goal is to express his life in complete charity towards all people.

Hieronymites believe this inwardly directed manner of life is an exquisite and effective form of apostolic outreach. They believe that in the middle of a restless world, there are those who are called by God to spend some time living in monastic solitude. For this reason, Hieronymite monasteries readily welcome visitors who are guaranteed silence and prayerful support.

Alongside the Hieronymite monks, there are Hieronymite nuns. They began in Toledo, when a group of women began living lives of simplicity; finally, they retired to a house in order to consecrate their lives to God in prayer and penance. In 1374 Pedro Fernandez Pecha founded the Monastery of Santa Maria de la Sisla near the city. He looked after the women, guiding them and outlining a way of life similar to the recently founded Hieronymite Order for monks.

This first foundation was the origin of the Monastery of San Pablo of the "beatas de San Jerónimo", as they began to be called. Their continued observance of their rules and sanctity led to their spread in various places throughout the Iberian Peninsula.

Hieronymites of the Observance, or of Lombardy

A reform of the above, effected by the third general in 1424; it embraced seven houses in Spain and seventeen in Italy, mostly in Lombardy. It is now extinct.

Poor Hermits of St Jerome (Pisa)

Established near Pisamarker in 1377, this congregation established nearly fifty houses, of which only two survive, one in Romemarker and one in Viterbomarker, Italymarker.

Hermits of St Jerome (Fiesole)

The congregation of Fiesolemarker was established in 1406: they had forty houses but in 1668 they were united with those of Pisa.

References

  1. Code of Canon Law 616
  • Helyot, Histoire des ordres religieux (1714), iii. cc. 57-6o, iv. cc. 1-3; Max Heimbucher, Orden and Kongregationen (1896), i. 70; and art. " Hieronymiten " in Herzog-Hauck, Realencyklopädie (ed. 3), and in Welte and Wetzer, Kirchenlexicon (ed. 2).
  • Website of the Order


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