Carmelites

The Marian Spirituality of the Medieval Religious Orders: Medieval Devotion to Mary Among the Carmelites

– Father Eamon R. Carroll, O.Carm.

Published in Marian Studies, Volume 52 (2001)

The word Carmel virtually defines the religious family that calls itself the Carmelite Order. It is a geographical designation (as in also Carthusian and Cistercian), not a person’s name like Francis, Dominic and the Servite Seven Holy Founders. In the Church’s calendar, Carmel is one of three Marian sites celebrated liturgically, along with Lourdes and St. Mary Major. It may be asked: Who founded the Carmelites on Mount Carmel? There is no easy answer, though some names have been suggested, beginning with the letter B—Brocard, Berthold, . . .What is known is that during the Crusades in the late eleven-hundreds some Europeans settled as hermits on Mount Carmel, in the land where the Savior had lived. Mount Carmel, a promontory facing the Mediterranean, near the city of Haifa, was biblically sacred to the memory of Elijah and his followers. Christians for centuries had chosen to live lives of prayer and penance in this remote site. A good trivia question would be: What are the existing survivors of the Latin Kingdom of the Crusades? Actually, there are three: first, the Commissariat of the Holy Land, still in the care of the Franciscans (under the embattled conditions of waning Christian and Catholic witness in the state of Israel); second, the Knights of Malta (with full title "Sovereign Military Order of the Hospital of St. John, of Rhodes and of Malta"), a religious and military order dating from the eleventh century; and third, the Order of Carmel.

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