Michael Hackett was born in the city of Limerick, Ireland, on 10 August, 1921. He enter the novitiate of the Augustinian Order at Orlagh in 1939 and made his first profession in 1940 when he took the religious name Benedict. He studied Arts at University College, Dublin, and graduated with the degree of B.A. in 1943 with first-class honors (in medieval and modern history). After completing his studies in theology, he was ordained priest in 1947.
He studied for the degree of M.A. in medieval history under Professor Aubrey Gwynn, Professor of Medieval History. The subject of the dissertation was William Fleet (c. 1325-90), O.S.A. Professor Gwynn was so impressed by the outstanding quality of the thesis, which he adjudged to be far above the standard required for the degree of master, that he recommended it for the degree of Ph.D. The thesis was submitted for examination to Professor David Knowles, then Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge. He unreservedly commended the thesis, and the degree of Ph.D. was awarded by the National University of Ireland in 1955.
Father Hackett also obtained the Diploma of Higher Education from the same university and another diploma in Medieval Latin Palaeography which he studied under Professor Ludwig Bieler of Vienna for whom the Chair of Palaeography and Late Latin had been especially created at University College, Dublin. On the strength of his academic record and learned publications Father Hackett was awarded honoris causa the title of Licenciate in Philosophy (L.Ph.) by the Prior General of his Order in Rome. In 1976 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (F.R.H.S.) of Great Britain on the recommendation of Professor Owen Chadwick, then Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge.
Father Hackett was a foundation member of the History Students' Society, University College, Dublin, and of the Augustinian Historical Institute, Rome. In addition to being Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he was a member of the Ecclesiastical History Society of Great Britain.
He lectured at King's College, Cambridge, and held seminars at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and at University College, Dublin, on the origins and medieval constitution of the University of Cambridge. The history of the medieval universities, particularly Cambridge and Oxford, were the subject of deep and most fruitful research on his part. It was his unique distinction to have rediscovered the original thirteenth-century statutes of the University of Cambridge which formed the core of his epoch-making study of the foundation and statutory history of the medieval university. His work The Original Statutes of Cambridge University: the Text and its History was published by Cambridge University Press in 1970. His researches also extended to the early history of Oxford University and he was requested to write the chapter on the medieval constitution of the university for volume one of The History of the University of Oxford, which appeared in 1984.
But most of his historical work lay in the field of medieval Augustinian history with special reference to England and Italy, as will be evident from the annexed bibliography. He was the recognized authority on the fourteenth-century Austin friar, William Flete, and his pivotal role in connection with the theological formation of the celebrated mystic, Saint Catherine of Siena. He was one of the principal speakers at the international symposium held at the University of Siena in 1980 to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the saint’s death. That same year he was invited to deliver the first of the two principal addresses at the Fifth Patristic, Medieval and Renaissance Conference at Villanova University, Pennsylvania. During his visit to the United States in the Fall of 1980, Father Hackett also lectured at the South Central Conference on Christianity and Literature (sponsored by Xavier University of Louisiana) at New Orleans, as well as at Berkeley and Cleveland.
Father Hackett also did important historical research necessary for the cause for canonization of John Stone, English Augustinian martyr under Henry VIII to come to come to fruition. He also contributed to the historical research for the beatification of the Irish Augustinian martyr, William Tirry. He was also consulted by the Congregation for Saints in several other causes.
In addition to the many published materials listed below in the bibliography, Father Hackett gave many addresses on various occasions both within the Order and at the meetings of various organizations.
Father Hackett conducted his research and writing while holding various positions within the Order. He was sent to serve in England where he was stationed at Clare Priory in Suffolk and at St. Augustine's Hammersmith, London. From 1966 to 1973 he was major superior of the Augustinians in England and Scotland. From 1974-1983, He taught history at Austin Friars School, Carlisle. From 1983 to 1989 he served Assistant General of the Augustinian Order with residence in Rome. When he returned to England, he resided at St. Mary’s Priory, Harborne, Birmingham. Because of increasing infirmity in his last few years, he resided in St. Joseph's Home, Harborne. He died on 28 March 2005 and is buried in the cemetery of St. Mary's Parish, Harborne, Birmingham.
Review of St. Augustine: the Lord’s sermon on the Mount, translated by John J. Jepson (Ancient Christian Writers, 5, 1948), Duckett’s Register (1949), 101-102.
Review of Jean Mouroux, The Meaning of Man, in Duckett’s Register (1950), 92-93.
- "The Spiritual Life of the English Austin Friars of the Fourteenth Century," in Sanctus Augustinus Vitae Spritualis Magister: Settimana internazionale di spiritualità agostiniana: Roma, 22-27 Ottobre 1956 (Rome, 1956), 421-492.
- “Irish Augustinian Mission in Nigeria,” in Augustiniana, 6 (1956), 791-814.
- “The Tirry documents (1654-5) in the Augustinian General Archives,” in Archivium Hibernicum, 20 (1957), 98-122.
- “The seventh centenary of the Great Union of Augustinians,” in Irish Ecclesiastical Record, 86 (1957), 13-24.
- “The Rule of St. Augustine and Recent Criticism,” in The Tagastan, 20(1958) 43-50.
- “An unnoticed Johanes Faventinus fragment,” in Traditio, 14 (1958), 505-508.
“A new study of St. Augustine,” in Good Counsel, 10 (1959), 8-13.
- “A note on Osbern Bokenham,” in Notes and Queries, new series, 8 (1961), 246-247.
- “William Flete,” in The Month, 26 (1961), 69-80.
- “William Flete and the De remedies contra temptaciones,” in Studies presented to Aubrey Gwynn, S. J., ed. J. A. Watt, J. B. Morrall and F. X. Martin, O.S.A. (Dublin, 1961), 330-348.
“Blessed John Stone,” in Good Counsel, 10 (1962), 7-10.
Blessed John Stone Austin Friar martyr (London,1963).
- “William Flete,” in Pre-Reformation English Spirituality, ed. James Walsh, S. J. (London, 1964) 158-169. A reprint of the article in The Month noted above under the year 1961 but with the addition of a bibliography.
- “William Tirry, O.S.A.,” in Good Counsel, 11 (1964), no. 8, 6-8; no. 9, 25-28; nos. 10-11, 21-23.
“Simone Fidati da Cascia and the doctrine of St. Catherine of Siena,” in Augustiniana,16 (1966) 386-414.
- “Gautier le Reclus,” in Dictionnaire de spiritualité, 6, 153-154.
- "Geoffroy Hardeby," ibid., 233-234.
- "Guillaume Flete," ibid., 1204-1208.
- “William Tirry,” in New Catholic Encyclopedia, 14, 171-172.
“Blessed John Stone Augustinian friar martyred at Canterbury, December 1539,” in Archdiocese of Westminster. Cause of the Canonization of Blessed Martyrs – official presentation of documents on martyrdom and cult (Sacred Congregation of Rites, historical section 148, Vatican, 1968), 65-106 (, (in collaboration with L. E. Whatmore).
The original statutes of Cambridge University: the text and its history (Cambridge University Press). Though the title-page bears the date 1969, the book was not actually published until 1970.
- Saint John Stone Austin friar martyr (+ 1539) (Rome, 1970). Translated into Italian under the title S. Giovanni Stone and into Spanish under the title San Juan Stone and published simultaneously with the original.
- Review of Eugene TeSelle, Augustine the Theologian (London, 1970), in The Clergy Review, 579-581.
- Review of Thomas de Chokham summa confessorum, ed. F. Broomfield (Louvain, 1968), in The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 21 (1970),181-182.
- “Flete (William),” in Dictionnaire d’histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques,17 (1971), 435-437.
- “Der heilige Johannes Stone Martyrer aus dem Augustinerorden (+ 1539),” Cor Unum – Mitteilugen an die deutsche Augustinerfamilie, 29, Heft 1-2, 34-42. A translation of Saint John Stone Austin friar martyr noted above under the year 1970.
- Review of An edition of the Cartulary of Burscough priory, ed. A. N. Webb (Chetham Society, third series, 18, 1970), in The Tablet, 225, 136.
Review of La continenza dei chierici nel pensiero canonistico classico da Gratiano a Gregorio IX by Filippo Liotta (Quaderni di “Studi Senesi” 24, Milan, 1971), in Medium Aevum, 42, 59-62.
“Augustinian Historical Studies 1973-1976: England, Ireland and Australia,” in Analecta Augustiniana, 39 (1976), 341-347.
- “The Medieval Archives of Lecceto,” in Analecta Augustiniana, 40 (1971); 15-45.
- "St. Augustine: His Life, Times and Spirituality, in Learning to Pray: Lessons from the Masters, ed. Peter Lemass (Dublin,1977), 7-23.
- "St. Augustine and Prayer," ibid., 24-40.
- “Catherine of Siena and William of England: a Curious Partnership,” in Proceedings of the Fifth Mid-Atlantic Conference on Patristic, Mediaeval, and Renaissance Studies (Augustinian Historical Institute, Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania) 5 (1980), 29-47.
- "Augustinian historical studies 1976-1979: England, Ireland, Australia and Nigeria," in Analecta Augustiniana 43, (1980), 371-378.
- "Lecceto: Center for Augustinian Spirituality," in Searching for God: the Contemplative Dimension of the Augustinian Experience ( Rome,1981), 190-208.
- “Saint Catherine of Siena: the English Connection,” in Each for All, 37 (1981), 3-13.
- “Un profile del pensiero di Caterina nel suo periodo formative,” in Atti del simposio internazionale cateriniano-bernardiniano, Siena, 17-20 Aprile 1980, ed. Domenico Maffei and Paulo Nardi (Siena1982), 137-147.
- “Preghiera e lavoro” in S. Agostino," in Quaderno di spiritualità monastica 1(Rome, 1982), 3-27.
- “A ‘lost’ work of Giles of Viterbo,” in Egidio da Viterbo, O.S.A. e il suo tempo (Studia Augustiniana Historica, 9, Rome,1983), 117-136.
- "Augustinian Historical Publications: England, Ireland, Australia, Nigeria 1979-1982," in Analecta Augustiniana 46 (1983), 459-465.
- Review of the Life of Catherine of Siena by Raymond of Capua, translated, introduced and annotated by Conleth Kearns, O. P., (Wilmington, Delaware, 1980) in Catholic Historical Review, 1983, 480-481.
"The University as a Corporate Body," in The History of the University of Oxford, ed. J. I. Catto ( Oxford, 1984), 37-95.
- “An Approach to Augustine on Prayer,” in The relevance of St. Augustine today (Good Counsel Press, Ballboden, Dublin,1985).
- “Catherine of Siena and William of England: a Curious Partnership,” in Proceedings of the PMR Conference 5 (1980), 29-47.
- “The Significance of Augustine in Medieval England and Ireland: Part I to A.D. 1000”, in Augustinian Heritage, 32, (1986), 209-221.
- Anon. in Sacra congregation pro causis sanctorum, Officium Historicum 1296. Dublinen. Canonizationis servae dei Catherinae McAuley (Rome, 1986), 7-9.
- Anon. in Congregatio pro causis sanctorum P.N. 1113. Philadelphien. Canonizationis servae Dei Catharinae Mariae Drexel (Rome, 1986), 30-37.
- “The Significance of Augustine in Medieval England and Ireland: Part II 1000-c. 1500,” in Augustinian Heritage 34 (1988), 107-118.
- “Augustine and Conversion: Withdrawal and Return,” in Augustinian Heritage 34 (1988), 291-300.
- Anon. in Congregatio pro causis sanctorum P.N. 953 – Southvarcen. Canonizationis servae Dei Corneliae Connelly (Rome, 1988), 24-31.
- “Lecceto: the monastery and its economy by 1650: Part 1” in Analecta Augustiniana 52 (1988), 119-142.
- "Settimo congresso internazionale di storia dell’ordine agostiniano relazioni bibliografiche: Roma, 15-29 ottobre 1988," in Analecta Augustiniana 52 (1989), 392-395.
- Anon. in Congregatio pro causis sanctorum Prot. N. 1375 – Dublinen. Canonizationis servi Dei Edmundi Ignatii Rice (Rome, 1989), 25-30.
- "Hardeby (Geoffrey)," in Dictionnaire d’histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, fascicles 133-134, cols. 335-336.
- Anon. in Congregation of the Causes of Saints Prot. N. 114 – Dublinen. Cause for the canonization of the servants of God Dermot O’Hurley archbishop and companions [including William Tirry, OSA] (Rome, 1989), 40-50.
- Edited the final edition and preparation for the publication of John Gavigan, O.S.A., The Augustinians from the French Revolution to Modern Times (Augustinian Press, Villanova, Pennsylvania, 1989).
- “The Irish Augustinians Presence in the Americas and the Philippines in the Seventeenth Century,” in Agustinos en América y Filipinas Actas del Congreso Internacional – Valladolid, 16-21 de Abril 1990 (Valladolid-Madrid, 1990) 2, 1051-1058.
- “Cinque eremi agostiniani nei dintorni di Siena,” in Lecceto e gli eremi agostiniani in terra di Siena (Siena: Silvana Editoriale for Monte dei Paschi di Siena, 1990), 45-72, and with George Radan, “Significato degli affreschi nel chiostro e nel portico di Lecceto,” ibid. (1990), 97-113.
- “Lecceto: the monastery and its economy by 1650: Part II,” in Analecta Augustiniana 53 (1990), 297-328.
- Anon., in Congregatio de causis sanctorum P. N. 1375, Dublinen. Canonizationis servi Dei Edmundi Ignatii Rice, Rome, 28-33.
- "Scuole agostiniane del Trecento in Italia," in Arte e Spiritualitá negli ordini mendicant: gli agostiniani e il capellone di S. Nicola a Tolentino (Tolentino, 1992), 55-64.
- “La composizione dello Studio generale agostiniano di Bologna nel Trecento,” in Ateneo e Chiesa di Bologna, Convegno di Studi Bologna 13-15 Aprile 1989, Saggi e Ricerche 4, Istituto per la Storia della Chiesa di Bologna (Bologna, 1992), 119-129.
“International Augustinian Historical Institute Bibliography 1988-1991 England, Ireland, Nigeria, 22-24 October 1991,” in Analecta Augustiniana 56 (1993), 279-296.
“The Augustinian Situation in Ireland at the Onset of the American Mission in the 1790s,” in Proceedings of the PMR Conference (Augustinian Historical Institute Villanova University, 1996), vol. 19-20, 1-14
The Austin Friars. A History of the Augustinian Friars in Britain from their foundation to the present day (Clare Suffolk: Augustinian Press, 1998).
“San Pietro in Ciel d’oro, Pavia” in Augustine in Iconography: History and Legend, edited by Joseph C. Schnaubelt, OSA and Frederick Van Fleteren, Collectanea Augustiniana, vol. 4, (New York: Peter Lang, 1999), 199-222.
"The Augustinian Hermitage of Lecceto," ibid., 333-56.
Obituary of Edmund Colledge in The Guardian.
A Presence in an Age of Turmoil: English, Irish and Scottish Augustinians in the Reformation and Counter Reformation. Edited by Karl A. Gersbach, OSA. (Villanova, PA: Augustinian Historical Institute, Villanova University, 2001).
“William Tirry,” New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd. ed. (2003), 14, 89-90.