was "an eminent member of the body of the Lord." In company with his friends he decided to establish a type of religious life inspired by the early community of Jerusalem. He did this first as a layman at Tagaste and then at Hippo as a priest and later as bishop in accord with the rule established by the holy apostles. This ideal of the servants of God, their knowledge, continence, and profound poverty, spread through the north of Roman Africa, where many of his followers served as clerics in the Christian communities. The formulation of this way of life experienced by him has been passed on to us through his writings, especially the Rule and those documents that refer to his conception of the monastic life. For this reason, our Order from its very beginning has recognized him as its father, master, and spiritual guide, not only because it has received the Rule and the name of the Order from him, but also because it has received from him its doctrine and spirituality.
(Constitutions of the Order, 2)