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Ex vita patrum formatur vita fratrum: The Appropriation of the Desert Fathers in the Augustinian Monasticism of the Later Middle Ages

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This article traces the role of the desert fathers in the creation of the late medieval Augustinian Myth. It argues that the major problem facing members of the Order of Hermits of Saint Augustine (OESA) was how to appropriate the tradition of the desert fathers and that of Augustine's monasticism for the tradition of the Order. In this light, special attention is given to the Pseudo-Augustinian Sermones ad fratres in eremo and the central importance of John Cassian and Paul of Thebes. Of particular importance are the works of Jordan of Quedlinburg, which shaped the identity of the OESA from the mid-fourteenth to the early sixteenth century. The desert fathers provided the model of the eremitical life, and thus Jordan "mythified" the desert fathers as he had Augustine himself. This was not an issue of historical identification, but of mythic creation in an attempt to provide the foundation of the late medieval OESA.


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