other Catholic religious orders such as
the Franciscans and Dominicans, which trace their founding to St.
Francis of Assisi
and St. Dominic, the
Carmelites do not claim a single founder.
we point to a tradition of people and
shaped our Order's identity and
The following are some highlights of that
Carmelite Founding Tradition
Carmelites, we trace our order's roots to a simple
band of Christian soldiers and pilgrims, who settled
"near the fountain of Elijah" on Mount
Carmel in Palestine after the Crusades in the
13th century. They sought to live as hermits "in
allegience to Jesus Christ" and to "meditate on
the Lord day and night." They eventually became
a formal religious order when they requested and
received a Rule
of Life written about 1215 A.D., from St. Albert,
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.
early Carmelites looked to two sources of inspiration.
Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Mount Carmel
the earliest time, Carmelites placed their Order
under the special patronage of the Blessed Mother
of Jesus Christ. It was in her special honor that
they named themselves the Order of the Blessed Virgin
of Mount Carmel. To this day, Carmelites celebrate
of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in honor of our
Order's special patron.
Prophet, Elijah the Tishbite
early Carmelites were also inspired by the powerful
and charismatic Old Testament prophet, Elijah, who
has been linked to Mount Carmel since Old Testament
times. His life of contemplation and apostolic zeal
"for the Lord of Hosts" inspired the first Carmelites
to recognize their own zeal in walking by prayer
in God's presence.
a prophet of God, Elijah challenged many powerful
institutions of his time. Scripture depicts him
fleeing for his life to Mount Horeb. It was there
that he encountered God, not in the sound of thunder
or the flash of lightening, but in the whisper of
a breeze--then he understood God's ways. The Bible
also depicts Elijah being carried to heaven in a
fiery chariot, while he still lived. His name means
"Yahweh is my God." Read about his colorful life
in the Bible starting at 1
Kings:17 (in English) (Or
read this passage in Latin. 3Kings in the Latin Vulgate.)
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to the Present
16th century was a watershed age for the Carmelite
Order. The activities of two great Spanish mystics,
St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, resulted
in the Order's reform and in a written spiritual
legacy of insight and instruction on the mystical
life. The reform caused the Carmelite Order to split
as evidenced today by the presence of two Carmelite
orders: the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance
(signified by O.Carm) and the Order of Discalced
Carmelites (signfied by OCD). The split was based
on differing views at that time of how to live the
Rule of Life within the Order.
this 3rd millenia of Christ's birth, we value our
common spirit, the wisdom and example of all Carmelite
saints, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate
with each other in the spirit of our common heritage.
Teresa of Jesus
Holy Mother St. Teresa of Jesus (March 28, 1515-October,
1582) is the Church's first proclaimed woman Doctor
of the Church. She is known for reforming the Carmelite
Order in order to return it to our earliest roots.
She used the word "discalced" which means "barefoot."
By this, she meant traveling in the spirit of humility
and spiritual poverty.
Teresa is particularly known for her mystical insights
and teaching on contemplative prayer preserved for
us in her writings. Read her spiritual autobiography by following this
John of the Cross
Holy Father, St. John of the Cross (1542-1591),
was St. Teresa's colleague in the reform and her
confessor. His mystical poetry and commentaries
reveal a profound depth of spirituality, insight,
and experience. His writings are available for downloading
at the this
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St. Therese of the Child Jesus
was born in France on January 2, 1873. She entered
the Carmelite monastery in Lisieux, France at age
16, where she died on September 30, 1897. Though
she died at the age of only 24 her spiritual autobiography,
"The Story of A Soul," revealed her to be a soul
mature in holiness and spiritual insight. Her doctrine
of "the little way" has influenced Popes and
many other holy men and women. Canonized a saint
on May 17, 1925, she was declared a Doctor of the
Church on October 19, 1997, the centennial of her
Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)
Edith Stein, of Jewish origin, was an intellectual
in Germany during the first half of the 20th century.
She later convertd to Catholicism and entered the
Carmelite convent taking the name, Sr. Teresa Benedicta
of the Cross. During World War II, Edith was imprisoned
at Auschwitz where she died in 1942. She was beatified
on May 1, 1987 and then canonized on October 11,
1998. You can download her book "The
Hidden Life" here.
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