The concept upon which the order of Augustinian Canons Regular is based is the communal life of clergy in a community characterised by a monastic way of life (Vita communis). In this way Augustine intended to provide people with pastoral care on a secure spiritual and economic basis. The first promoters of the Canonical life for priests include Eusebius of Vercelli (283-371), Zeno of Verona († 371) and Augustine (354-430).
Initially this kind of communal life of priests was found in the Episcopal churches. These clerics who were cared for by the bishop were included in a list (canon). For this reason they became known as canons. Canonical monasteries were later founded independent of Episcopal churches. Around the year 750 St. Chrodegang of Metz introduced a rule for the canons of his cathedral chapter which subsequently spread beyond Metz. In contrast with the Rule of St. Augustine it allowed the canons to own private property.
In 816 the Synod of Aachen proclaimed a new rule for canons (ordo canonicorum) which continued to allow clerics to own private property. This encouraged the canons in their efforts to give up communal life. The same Synod also decreed that the Benedictine Rule should be obligatory for all monasteries (ordo monasticus). As a result, from that time on the Frankish kingdom recognised only two rules for communal clerical life.