There were two minor religious orders or congregations of this name: (1) a Benedictine congregation, more often known by the name of its chief house, Monte Vergine (2) the foundations named after St. William of Maleval.
(1) Besides Monte Vergine, St. William of Vercelli founded a considerable number of monasteries, especially in the Kingdom of Naples , including a double monastery for men and women at Guglieto (near Nusco ). Celestine III confirmed the congregation by a Bull (4 Nov., 1197). In 1611 there were twenty-six larger and nineteen smaller Williamite houses. Benedict XIV confirmed new constitutions in 1741 to be added to the declarations on the Rule of St. Benedict prescribed by Clement VIII. The mother-house, the only surviving member of the congregation, was affiliated to the Cassinese Congregation of the Primitive Observance in 1879. The community at Monte Vergine retains the white colour of the habit, which is in other respects like that of the black Benedictines. There are said to have been some fifty Williamite nunneries, of which only two survived at the beginning of the eighteenth century. The habit was white with a black veil, and their rule very severe in the matter of fasting and abstinence.
(2) This second congregation was founded by Albert, companion and biographer of St. William of Maleval , and Renaldus, a physician who had settled at Maleval shortly before the saint's death, and was called the Hermits of St. William. It followed the practice of that saint, and quickly spread over Italy, Germany, France, Flanders, and Hungary. The great austerity of the rule was mitigated by Gregory IX in 1229; at the same time many of the monasteries adopted the Benedictine Rule and others that of St. Augustine. When, in 1256, Alexander IV founded the Hermits of St. Augustine many of the Williamites refused to enter the union and were permitted to exist as a separate body under the Benedictine Rule. In 1435 the order, which about this time numbered fifty-four monasteries in three provinces of Tuscany, Germany, and France, received from the Council of Basle the confirmation of its privileges. The Italian monasteries suffered during the wars in Italy. The last two French houses at Cambrai and Ypres were suppressed by the Congregation of Regulars, while in Germany the greater number came to an end at the Revolution. The chief house at Grevenbroich (founded in 1281) was united to the Cistercians in 1628; the last German house ceased to exist in 1785. The habit was similar to that of the Cistercians.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online