Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel Abbreviation Order of Carmelites (O.Carm.) Motto Zelo zelatus sum pro Domino Deo exercituum (With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts) Formation Late 12th century Type Catholic religious order Headquarters Via Giovanni Lanza,
Prior General Most Rev. Fr. Fernando Millán Romeral Website www.ocarm.org
The Order of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel or Carmelites (sometimes simply Carmel by synecdoche; Latin: Ordo Fratrum Beatissimæ Virginis Mariæ de Monte Carmelo) is a Catholic religious order perhaps founded in the 12th century on Mount Carmel, hence its name. However, historical records about its origin remain uncertain. Saint Bertold has traditionally been associated with the founding of the order, but few clear records of early Carmelite history have survived and this is likely to be a later extrapolation by hagiographers.
- 1 Charism and origin
- 2 History
- 3 Habit and scapular
- 4 Visions and devotions
- 5 See also
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
Charism and origin
The charism, or spiritual focus, of the Carmelite Order is contemplative prayer. The Order is considered by the Church to be under the special protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary and thus has a strong Marian devotion. As in most of the orders dating to medieval times, the First Order is the friars (who are active/contemplative), the Second Order is the nuns (who are cloistered) and the Third Order consists of laypeople who continue to live in the world, and can be married, but participate in the charism of the order by liturgical prayers, apostolates (ministries), and contemplative prayer. There are also offshoots such as active Carmelite sisters.
Carmelite tradition traces the origin of the order to a community of hermits on Mount Carmel that succeeded the schools of the prophets in ancient Israel, although there are no certain records of hermits on this mountain before the 1190s. By this date a group of men had gathered at the well of Elijah on Mount Carmel. These men, who had gone to Palestine from Europe either as pilgrims or as crusaders, chose Mount Carmel in part because it was the traditional home of Elijah. The foundation was believed to have been dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The conventual buildings were destroyed several times, but a monastery of Discalced Carmelite friars was built close to the original site under the auspices of Fr. Julius of the Saviour and duly consecrated on 12 June 1836.
Some time between 1209 and 1214 the hermits received a formula vitae "in keeping with their avowed purpose" (Rule Ch. 1) from the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and Papal legate St. Albert of Jerusalem. Albert had been responsible for giving a rule to the Humiliati during his long tenure as Bishop of Vercelli, and was well-versed in diplomacy, being sent by Pope Innocent III as Papal Legate to what was known as the Eastern Province. As an experienced prelate he created a document which is both juridically terse and replete with Scriptural allusions, thereby rooting the hermits in the life of the universal Church and their own aspirations.
The original Carmelite Rule of St. Albert addresses a prior whose name is only listed as "B." When later required to name their founders, the Brothers referred to both Elijah and the Blessed Virgin as early models of the community. Later, under pressure from other European Mendicant orders to be more specific, the name "Saint Bertold" was given, possibly drawn from the oral tradition of the Order.
The rule consisted of sixteen articles, which enjoined strict obedience to their prior, residence in individual cells, constancy in prayer, the hearing of Mass every morning in the oratory of the community, vows of poverty and toil, daily silence from vespers until terce the next morning, abstinence from all forms of meat except in cases of severe illness, and fasting from Holy Cross Day (September 14) until the Easter of the following year.
The Rule of St. Albert received the approval of Pope Honorius III in 1226. With the increasing cleavage between the West and the East, however, the Carmelites found it advisable to leave their original home, and in 1238 they settled in Cyprus and Sicily.
In 1242 they were in Aylesford, Kent, England, and two years later in southern France, while by 1245 they were so numerous that they were able to hold their first general chapter at Aylesford, where Saint Simon Stock, then eighty years of age, was chosen general. During his rule of twenty years the order prospered, especially by the establishment of a priory at Paris by Saint Louis in 1259.
Quite early in their history the Carmelites began to develop ministries in keeping with their new status as mendicant religious. This resulted in the production of a letter Ignea Sagitta (Flaming Arrow) by the ruling prior general, Nicholas of Narbonne, who called for a return to a strictly eremitical life. His belief that most friars were ill-suited to an active apostolate was based on a number of scandals. However, the tendentious letter is not found quoted in early extant Carmelite texts, raising the question whether it was ever issued. In any case, Nicholas resigned from office at the General Chapter in Paris in 1271 to pursue the solitary life he favoured. This tension within the charism of the Order remains - the need for solitude and the need to respond to the Church's apostolic mission.
In the 14th and 15th centuries the Carmelites, like a number of other religious orders, declined and reform became imperative. Shortly before 1433 three priories in Valais, Tuscany, and Mantua were reformed by the preaching of Thomas Conecte of Rennes and formed the Congregation of Mantua, which was declared independent of the rest of the Order with its own special set of Constitutions as ratified by Pope Eugene IV and governed by its own vice prior general. In 1431 or 1432 the same pope sanctioned certain modifications of the Carmelite rule and, in 1459, Pope Pius II left the regulation of fasts to the discretion of the prior general. Blessed John Soreth, who was then prior general and had already established the order of Carmelite nuns in 1452, accordingly sought until his death in 1471 to restore the primitive asceticism.
In 1476, a papal bull cum nulla of Pope Sixtus IV founded the Carmelites of the Third Order, who received a special rule in 1635, which was later amended in 1678. The 16th century saw a number of short-lived reforms, but it was not until the second half of the same century that a thorough reformation of the Carmelites in parts of Spain was carried out by Saint Teresa of Ávila, who, together with Saint John of the Cross, established the Discalced Carmelites. Teresa's foundations, although welcomed by -King Philip who was most anxious for all Orders to be reformed according to the principles of the Council of Trent (1545–1563) - did create practical problems at grassroots level. The proliferation of new religious houses in towns that were already struggling to cope was an unwelcome prospect, creating a backlash from local townspeople to nobility and diocesan clergy. Teresa made a point of trying to make her monasteries as self-sufficient as was practicable and restricted the number of nuns per community accordingly.
Out of concern over the advent of Protestantism, the Order was now inspired with a new asceticism and fervour. In 1593, the Discalced Carmelites had their own superior general styled propositus general - the first being Fr. Nicloas Doria. Due to the politics of foundation, the Discalced friars in Italy were canonically erected as a separate juridical entity.
The prior general, Fr. John Baptist Rossi, realized that if reform was going to work, it could not be left to the whims individual provinces. The problems created by Teresa's movement for those stubbornly rejecting the need for reform had created the fragmentation of the Order in Castile and many committed nuns and friars now belonged to a completely separate Order. Fr. Rossi laid the groundwork for a more systematic programme of reform. The place that offered the best conditions was the Province of Tourraine, which gave its name to the reform. One of its great figures was Br. John of St. Samson. The Congregation of Mantua continued to function in its little corner of Italy throughout this period.
It was only at the end of the 19th century that those following the reform of Tourraine (by this time known as the "strict observance") and the Mantuan Congregation were formally merged under one set of Constitutions. The friars following Mantua conceded to Tourraine's Constitutions but insisted that the older form of the habit - namely their own - should be adopted. In a photograph of the period Blessed Titus Brandsma is shown in the habit of Tourraine as a novice; in all subsequent images he wears that of the newly styled Ancient Observance.
Controversies with other orders
By the middle of the 17th century the Carmelites had reached their zenith. At this period, however, they became involved in controversies with other orders, particularly with the Jesuits. The special objects of attack were the traditional origin of the Carmelites and the source of their scapular. The Sorbonne, represented by Jean Launoy, joined the Jesuits in their polemics against the Carmelites.
Papebroch, the Bollandist editor of the Acta Sanctorum, was answered by the Carmelite Sebastian of St. Paul, who made such serious charges against the orthodoxy of his opponent's writings that the very existence of the Bollandists was threatened. The peril was averted, however, and in 1696 a decree of Juan Tomás de Rocaberti, archbishop of Valencia and inquisitor-general of the Holy Office, forbade all further controversies between the Carmelites and Jesuits. Two years later, on November 20, 1698, Pope Innocent XII issued a brief which definitely ended the controversy on pain of excommunication, and placed all writings in violation of the brief on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.
The French Revolution, the secularization in Germany, and the repercussions on religious orders following the unification of Italy were heavy blows to the Carmelites. By the last decades of the 19th century, there were approximately 200 Carmelite men throughout the world. At the beginning of the 20th century, however, new leadership and less political interference allowed a rebirth of the Order. Existing provinces began re-founding provinces that had gone out of existence. The theological preparation of the Carmelites was strengthened, particularly with the foundation of St. Albert's College in Rome.
By 2001, the membership had increased to approximately 2,100 men in 25 provinces, 700 enclosed nuns in 70 monasteries, and 13 affiliated Congregations and Institutes. In addition, the Third Order of lay Carmelites count 25,000-30,000 members throughout the world. Provinces exist in Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Hungary, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Portugal and the United States. Delegations directly under the Prior General exist in Argentina, France, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, the Lebanon, the Philippines and Portugal. Carmelite Missions exist in Bolivia, Burkino Faso, Cameroon, Colombia, India, Kenya, Lithuania, Mexico, Mozambique, Peru, Romania, Tanzania, Trinidad, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Monasteries of enclosed Carmelite nuns exist in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Peru, the Philippines, Spain, Portugal and the United States. Hermit communities of either men or women exist in Brazil, France, Indonesia, Lebanon, Italy and the United States.
The Discalced Carmelite Order also built the priory of Elijah (1911) at the site of Elijah's epic contest with the prophets of Ba'al (1 Kings 18:20-40. The monastery is situated about 25 kilometers south of Haifa on the eastern side of the Carmel, and stands on the foundations of a series of earlier monasteries. The site is held sacred by Christians, Jews and Muslims; the name of the area, is el-Muhraqa, an Arabic construction meaning "place of burning", and is a direct reference to the biblical account.
There are several Carmelite figures who have received significant attention in the 20th century, including Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, one of only three female Doctors of the Church, so named because of her famous teaching on the "way of confidence and love" set forth in her best-selling memoir, "Story of a Soul"; Titus Brandsma, a Dutch scholar and writer who was killed in Dachau Concentration Camp because of his stance against Nazism; and Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (née Edith Stein), a Jewish convert to Catholicism who was also imprisoned and died at Auschwitz. Saint Raphael Kalinowski (1835–1907) was the first friar to be sainted in the Order since co-founder Saint John of the Cross. The writings and teachings of Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, a Carmelite friar of the 17th century, continue as a spiritual classic under the title The Practice of the Presence of God. Other non-religious (i.e., non-vowed monastic) great figures include Saint George Preca, a Maltese priest and Carmelite Tertiary.
Habit and scapular
A series of articles on
Mount Carmel (Brown)
7 Sorrows of Mary (Black)
The Archangel (Blue/Black)
Good Counsel (White)
Sacred Heart of Jesus (White)
Immaculate Conception (Blue)
Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary
The original way of life of the order was changed to conform to that of the mendicant orders on the initiative of St. Simon Stock and at the command of Pope Innocent IV. Their former habit of a mantle with black and white or brown and white stripes—the black or brown stripes representing the scorches the mantle of Elijah received from the fiery chariot as it fell from his shoulders—was discarded and they wore the same habit as the Dominicans, except that the cloak was white. They also borrowed much from the Dominican and Franciscan constitutions. Their distinctive garment was a scapular of two strips of dark cloth, worn on the breast and back, and fastened at the shoulders. Tradition holds that this was given to St. Simon Stock by the Blessed Virgin Mary, who appeared to him and promised that all who wore it with faith and piety and who died clothed in it would be saved ). There arose a sodality of the scapular, which affiliated a large number of laymen with the Carmelites. The order made some grandiose claims, however, contesting the "invention" of the rosary with the Dominicans, terming themselves the brothers of the Virgin, and asserting, on the basis of their traditional association with Elijah, that all the prophets of the Old Testament, as well as the Virgin and the Apostles, had been Carmelites. A miniature version of the Carmelite scapular is popular among Roman Catholics and is one of the most popular devotions in the Church. Wearers usually believe that if they faithfully wear the Carmelite scapular (also called "the brown scapular" or simply "the scapular") and die in a state of grace, they will be saved from eternal damnation. Catholics who decide to wear the scapular are usually enrolled by a priest, and some choose to enter the Scapular Confraternity. The Lay Carmelites of the Third Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel wear a scapular which is smaller than the shortened scapular worn by some Carmelite religious for sleeping, but still larger than the devotional scapulars.
Visions and devotions
From the time of her clothing in the religious habit (1583) till her death (1607) the life of St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi is said to have had a series of raptures and ecstasies.
- First, these raptures sometimes seized upon her whole being with such force as to compel her to rapid motion (e.g. towards some sacred object).
- Secondly, she was frequently able, whilst in ecstasy, to carry on working e.g., embroidery, painting, with perfect composure and efficiency.
- Thirdly, during these raptures St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi gave utterance to maxims of Divine Love, and to counsels of perfection for souls. These were preserved by her companions, who (unknown to her) wrote them down.
Sister Antónia d'Astónaco, a Carmelite nun from Portugal, reported during her life a private revelation by Saint Michael the Archangel. Based on that revelation, the Archangel Michael had told in an apparition to the devoted Servant of God that he would like to be honored, and God glorified, by the praying of nine special invocations. These nine invocations correspond to invocations to the nine choirs of angels and origins the Chaplet of Saint Michael. This private revelation and prayers were fully approved by Pope Pius IX in 1851.
Sister Marie of St Peter, a Carmelite nun in Tours France, started the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. She said that in an 1844 vision Jesus told her: "Oh if you only knew what great merit you acquire by saying even once, Admirable is the Name of God, in a spirit of reparation for blasphemy."
In the 19th century, another Carmelite nun, Saint Therese of Lisieux, was instrumental in spreading this devotion throughout France in the 1890s with her many poems and prayers. Eventually Pope Pius XII approved the devotion in 1958 and declared the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus as Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday) for all Catholics. Therese of Lisieux emerged as one of the most popular saints for Catholics in the 20th century, and a statue of her can be found in many European and North American Catholic churches built prior to the Second Vatican Council (after which the number of statues tended to be reduced when churches were built).
Branches of the Carmelite Order
- Third Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
- Hermits of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel
- Monks of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel
- Order of Discalced Carmelites (also known as Teresian Carmelites)
- Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites
- Byzantine Discalced Carmelites
- Sisters of the Apostolic Carmel
- Carmelites of Mary Immaculate
- Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles
- Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm
- Carmelite Friars of the Most Pure Heart of Mary Province
- Carmelite Friars of the Saint Elias Province
- Teresa of Ávila (Doctor of the Church)
- John of the Cross (Doctor of the Church)
- Thérèse of Lisieux (Doctor of the Church)
- Mary Magdalene de Pazzi
- Sister Lúcia of Fátima
- Nuno of Saint Mary
- Simon Stock
- Elizabeth of the Trinity
- Edith Stein
- Teresa of the Andes
- Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart
- Brother Lawrence
- Francisco Palau
- Angelo Paoli
- Jan Tyranowski
- Martyrs of Compiègne
- Carmelite Rule of St. Albert
- Constitutions of the Carmelite Order
- Book of the First Monks
- Carmelite Rite
- Our Lady of Mount Carmel
- Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
- Sabbatine privilege
- ^ "The Carmelite Order". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- ^ "Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- ^ "Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway"
- ^ O’Riordan, Maureen. "Doctor of the Universal Church". Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway. http://www.thereseoflisieux.org/doctor-of-the-universal-church/. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
- ^ O’Riordan, Maureen. "Writings". Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway. http://www.thereseoflisieux.org/writings/. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
- ^ EWTN History of the Scapular 
- ^ Matthew Bunson, 2008, The Catholic Almanac, ISBN 9781592764419 page 155
- ^ Gerald M. Costello, 2001, Treasury of Catholic Stories, OSV Press, ISBN 9780879739799, page 128
- ^ O’Riordan, Maureen. "Therese and the Holy Face of Jesus". Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway. http://www.thereseoflisieux.org/the-holy-face-of-jesus/. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
- Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religion
- Copsey, Richard and Fitzgerald-Lombard, Patrick (eds.), Carmel in Britain: studies on the early history of the Carmelite Order (1992–2004).
- "The Carmelite Order" by Benedict Zimmerman. The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908.
- T. Brandsma, Carmelite Mysticism, Historical Sketches: 50th Anniversary Edition, (Darien, IL, 1986), ASIN B002HFBEZG
- J. Boyce, Carmelite Liturgy and Spiritual Identity. The Choir Books of Kraków, Turnhout, 2009, Brepols Publishers, ISBN 978-2-503-51714-8
- W. McGreal, At the Fountain of Elijah: The Carmelite Tradition, (Maryknoll, NY, 1999), ISBN 1-57075-292-3
- J. Smet, The Carmelites: A History of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, 4. vol. (Darien IL, 1975)
- J. Welch, The Carmelite Way: An Ancient Path for Today’s Pilgrim, (New York: 1996), ISBN 0-8091-3652-X
- Index of Carmelite Websites
- OCARM - OCD Web Portal
- Order of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
- U.S. Carmelite Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, Darien, IL
- British Province of Carmelites
- Carmelite Monks - Contemplative Carmelite men living a solitary life of prayer and penance
- Meditations from Carmel
- "Sayings of Light and Love" - Spiritual Maxims of John of the Cross
- The Carmelite history and vocation
- Way of Perfection for the Laity - A commentary on the traditional rule of the Discalced Carmelite Third Order.
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