The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel was instituted to honor the Mother of God, and it was the first Order established in her honor. A tradition of many centuries identifies the first Carmelites with the hermits of Mount Carmel, disciples of the prophet Saint Elias and Saint Eliseus. We recognize in our Father Saint Elias, the inspiration of the Carmelite life, dedicated to contemplation and solitude, and burning with zeal for the glory of God. Saint Elias accomplishes his work, and passes on his spirit, leaving behind him a spiritual following.
Our Holy Mother
Saint Teresa of Jesus
(March 28, 1515 - October 15, 1582)
Foundress of the Discalced Carmelite Order
St. Teresa of Jesus was born as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada, in Avila, Spain, and entered the Carmel of the Incarnation there in 1536. She lived there for about 20 years until she felt that God was asking something more of her. After many tribulations, St. Teresa left the Incarnation on August 24, 1562 to found the Carmel of St. Joseph of Avila, a new monastery in which she planned and hoped that the original Rule of Carmel would be kept faithfully.
Despite great opposition to the new Carmelite monastery, she persevered and was later asked to found more of these houses of prayer in other cities of Spain, which became known as Discalced, meaning shoeless, Carmelites, to represent their more austere way of life in poverty and imitation of Christ.
Over a period of 20 years, St. Teresa founded 15 more Discalced Carmelite monasteries for the nuns. As a part of the reform, she collaborated with St. John of the Cross and founded groups of Carmelite friars who would share in the kind of life lived by the nuns. Her aim was to provide spiritual directors who had the same spirit and to provide the Church with a variety of apostolic activities. She showed St. John of the Cross the Carmelite ideal of which he would later be the consummate master, bequeathing marvelous treatises to the treasury of the Church.
St. Teresa introduced a fresh orientation into Carmelite life combining silence and solitude with community living and giving the life of prayer a specific apostolic role in the Church and the world. Prayer was to be the great outreach to others, the one and only work of her nuns. Her energy, resolution and sense of humor were unfailing, animated as they were by her immense desire to serve the Lord as lovingly as she could. In order to consolidate her work, undertaken at our Lord's direction, St. Teresa wrote Constitutions which together with the primitive rule have governed the Discalced Carmelite nuns from their beginnings and which Our Holy Mother left as a heritage to her daughters.
Before the end of her life, she wrote a significant legacy of writings, which represent important benchmarks in the history of Christian mysticism. Some of them include Way of Perfection, The Interior Castle, and Life of St. Teresa of Avila.
On October 4, 1582, at the age of 67, Holy Mother St. Teresa died at Alba de Tormes. When the bells of Avila tolled for her, the local citizens said: "The Saint has gone to heaven." Her feast day is celebrated on 15th October.
Holy Mother Saint Teresa of Jesus, pray for us!
Our Holy Father
Saint John of the Cross
Juan de Yepes was born at Fontiveros, Spain. His father died when Juan was two years old and left the family of three children penniless. After they moved to Medina del Campo, the boy tried several trades without success. Excelling academically, he continued his studies at the Jesuit college in Medina. In 1563, he became a novice at the monastery of St. Ana in Medina. His superiors sent him to the University of Salamanca, where he was ordained a priest in 1567.
In 1568, Our Holy Mother Saint Teresa visited John's monastery of Medina to discuss the possibility of including monasteries of friars in her reform of the Carmelite order. Both John and the prior of the house embraced the Primitive Rule, and John was the first friar to enter the first foundation of Duruelo. After some short stays in Pastrana and Alcalá, John joined Saint Teresa as confessor at the unreformed Carmelite convent of the Incarnation in Ávila, of which she had been appointed prioress. During this period, they stayed in constant spiritual contact, in which John was St. Teresa's director as well as her spiritual son.
Meanwhile, the opposition between Discalced (reformed) and Calced Carmelites, which had existed from the beginning, took on alarming proportions. In 1575, John was abducted and imprisoned by the Calced friars. He was set free at the request of the papal nuncio, but the same occurred again in 1577, and John was imprisoned for nine months in a windowless six-by-ten-foot cell, with a ceiling so low he couldn't stand up. The stone cell was unheated in winter and unventilated in summer. Malnourished and flogged weekly, John was constantly ill. Yet it was during his imprisonment, by the light of a three-inch hole high in the wall, that John wrote his two greatest poems, Cantico Espiritual (Spiritual Canticle) and Noche Oscura del Alma (Dark Night of the Soul). After escaping, John spent eight months recuperating and writing
the Ascent of Mount Carmel.
After the two branches of the order were finally split, John remained in the south but regained status as vicar provincial. It was only toward the end of his life, in 1588, that he returned to Castile as prior of the house of Segovia and as councilor of the provincial. Because of his disagreement with the provincial, he was soon removed from office and sent back to Andalusia, where he died in 1591 after much suffering. He was canonized in 1726 and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1926, revered as one of the greatest Christian mystics and
Spanish poets in history.
Read St. John of the Cross' book, Ascent of Mount Carmel. Download
Read St. John of the Cross' Dark Night of the Soul. Download
Read St. John of the Cross' The Living Flame of Love. Download
Read St. John of the Cross' A Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ. Download
Saint John of the Cross, pray for us!
Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face
Popularly known today as the "Little Flower,” Thérèse Martin was born in Alencon, France in 1873. At the age of fifteen, she entered the Discalced Carmel of Lisieux, where she lived in the greatest humility and evangelical simplicity and confidence in God. By word and example, she taught the novices these same virtues. Offering her life for the salvation of souls and the spread of the Church, she died after a long and painful illness on September 30, 1897. She was canonized in 1925 and successive popes have referred to her as “the greatest saint of modern times.” She was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope St. John Paul II in 1997. She is co-patroness of the Missions and secondary patron of France.
Learn about the life of Saint Therese in her autobiography, Story of a Soul, e-Book Download
Watch the movie about her life, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, on FORMED
Watch movie, Miracle of Saint Therese, on FORMED
Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, pray for us!
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
Elizabeth Catez was born in 1880 in France, in the diocese of Bourges. In 1901 she entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery of Dijon. There she made her profession of vows in 1903 and from there was called “to light, to love and to life” by the Divine Spouse in 1906. A faithful adorer in spirit and in truth, her life was a “praise of glory” of the Most Blessed Trinity present in her soul and loved amidst interior darkness and excruciating illness. In the mystery of divine inhabitation she found her “heaven on earth,” her special charism and her mission for the Church. She was canonized on October 16, 2016.
Learn about the life of Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity in the book, He is My Heaven (Get Here)
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, pray for us!
Saint Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart
St. Teresa Margaret was born in Arezzo in Tuscany in 1747 of the noble Redi family, and entered the Discalced Carmelites at Florence on September 1, 1764. She was given a special contemplative experience concerning the words of St John, “God is love.” She felt deeply that her vocation was to live a hidden life of love and self-immolation. That vocation was confirmed by her heroic exercise of fraternal charity, but was soon completed: she died in 1770, aged twenty-three.
Saint Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart, pray for us!
Saint Mary of Jesus Crucified
St. Mary of Jesus Crucified, also known as the "Little Arab," was born of the Baouardy family, Catholics of the Greek Melchite Rite, at Abellin in Galilee in 1846. In 1867 she entered the Discalced Carmelites in France and was sent with the founding group to the Carmel of Mangalore in India where, in 1870, she made her profession. She returned to France in 1872. In 1875 she went to the Holy Land, where she built a monastery in Bethlehem and began planning for another in Nazareth. Noted for her supernatural gifts, especially for humility, for her devotion to the Holy Spirit, and her great love for the Church and the Pope, she died at Bethlehem in 1878. She was canonized on May 17, 2015.
Saint Mary of Jesus Crucified, pray for us!
Saint Simon Stock
Saint Simon Stock was born in Kent, England, in 1165. It is said that when he was twelve years old he began to live as a hermit in the hollow trunk of an oak, and later became an itinerant preacher until he entered the Carmelite Order which had just come to England. He was elected as one of the first Prior Generals of the Carmelite Order and served during the difficult days of transition between hermits and friars. To him appeared the Blessed Virgin with a multitude of angels, holding the Scapular of the Order in her blessed hands, and saying: "This will be a privilege for you and for all Carmelites, that he who dies in this will not suffer eternal fire." This vision was the source of the Brown Scapular devotion. He died in Bordeaux, France in 1265
at the age of 100 years.
Saint Simon Stock, pray for us!
Blessed Titus Brandsma
Born at Bolsward (The Netherlands) in 1881, Blessed Titus joined the Carmelite Order as a young man. Ordained a priest in 1905, he obtained a doctorate in philosophy in Rome. He then taught in various schools in Holland and was named professor of philosophy and of the history of mysticism in the Catholic University of Nijmegen, where he also served as Rector Magnificus. He was noted for his constant availability to everyone. He was a professional journalist, and in 1935 he was appointed ecclesiastical advisor to Catholic journalists. During the 1930s he visited Ireland and stayed in Kinsale with the Carmelite Community there to improve his English before giving a series of lectures in the United States. Both before and during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands he fought, faithful to the Gospel, against the spread of the Nazi ideology and for the freedom of Catholic education and the Catholic press. For this he was arrested and sent to a succession of prisons and concentration camps where he brought comfort and peace to his fellow prisoners and did good even to his tormentors. In 1942, after much suffering and humiliations he was killed at Dachau. He was beatified by John Paul II on November 3, 1985.
Blessed Titus Brandsma, pray for us!
Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
Edith Stein was born into a Jewish family at Breslau on October 12, 1891. Through her passionate study of philosophy, she searched after truth and found it in reading the autobiography of Our Holy Mother St. Teresa of Jesus. In 1922, she was baptized into the Catholic Church, and in 1933 she entered the Carmel of Cologne, where she took the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. She was martyred at Auschwitz on August 9, 1942, during the Nazi persecution, dying a martyr for the Christian faith after having offered her life for her people. A woman of singular intelligence and learning, she left behind a body of writing notable for its doctrinal richness and profound spirituality. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II at Cologne on May 1, 1987, and canonized at Rome twelve years later.
Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, pray for us!
Saints Louis and Zélie Martin
Louis and Zélie (Guérin) Martin were the parents of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus. Three of their other daughters became Discalced Carmelites in the monastery of Lisieux, and the remaining daughter became a nun of the Visitation order. The fervent practice of their Catholic Faith was the heart and soul of the Martin family, and St. Therese and her sisters have left moving accounts of the esteem and true veneration they had for their parents. In the Process of Beatification for the Little Flower, Mother Agnes (Pauline Martin) stated: “My parents always seemed to me to be saints. We were filled with respect and admiration for them. Sometimes I asked myself if there could be others like them on earth. I never saw any such around me.” Saint Therese herself wrote: “God gave me a father and mother
more worthy of heaven than of earth.”
Having lost four of their little ones, Louis and Zélie were profoundly convinced that they were but the trustees of God’s authority in regard to their children, who belonged to their Creator first and foremost. Their parental love, purified in the shadow of the Cross, sought above all else to instill in their daughters’ hearts a generous, trustful and self-forgetting love of the God who had created them for Himself and would one day reunite their family in eternal bliss. It was this hope that strengthened the Martins to endure the many bitter sorrows they encountered along their path, which they embraced with complete and joyful adherence to the Divine Will. They were canonized on October 18, 2015.
Having weathered the storms of life, they now turn a compassionate eye upon the countless families who are so much in need of heavenly assistance in our day. How different this world would be if all parents realized the nobility of Christian marriage and wholeheartedly welcomed the children entrusted to them by God, teaching them to love Him as their infinitely merciful Father! Let us ask Louis and Zélie Martin, along with the beautiful Little Flower who was the fruit of their love, to obtain the triumph of the culture of life in our world, and to instill in all families the same bond of charity that made their home a little heaven on earth.
Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, pray for us!
Saint Maria Maravillas de Jesus
Maria Maravillas Pidal y Chico de Guzman was born in Madrid on November 4,1891 into the deeply Catholic family of the Marquesses of Pidal. After a childhood and youth proper to her social status, she left all to enter the Escorial Carmel in 1919. In 1924, by divine inspiration, she founded the Carmel of Cerro de los Ángeles beside the monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In 1933 she founded a Carmel in Kottayam (India). From 1936 to 1939, persecution broke out against the Spanish Church, so the Discalced Carmelites in Cerro undertook a risky pilgrimage, which ended up in the Carmelite Desert of Batuecas (Salamanca) and resulted in recovering the monastery for the Order. In 1939, Mother Maravillas returned to Cerro and began numerous foundations in the spirit of Our Holy Mother Saint Teresa of Jesus: 1944 - Mancera de Abajo (Salamanca), 1947 - Duruelo, 1950 - Cabrera (Salamanca), 1954 - Arenas de san Pedro (Avila), 1956 - San Calixto (Cordova), 1958 - Aravaca (Madrid), 1961 - La Aldehuela (Madrid) where she lived until her death on December 11, 1974.
From there, this daughter of Saint Teresa, bold and down to earth, always attentive to the needs of her neighbor, carried out her great social work: for example, building a church, housing complex and college for the poor. She afterwards made a foundation in Montemar, (Malaga) in 1964. In the same year, the Archbishop of Madrid-Alcala asked her to restore the Escorial Carmel, where she had lived during her first years in the Order. In 1966, a petition arrived from the Bishop of Avila to save from extinction the Incarnation Monastery, where Saint Teresa of Jesus had lived for 30 years.
On December 11, 1974, she fell asleep in the Lord in her monastery of La Aldehuela, leaving behind her a trail of light and love after putting at the service of God and of the Discalced Carmel all her gifts and vocation, her whole life. Each year, thousands of pilgrims come to her tomb in the monastery church.
Saint Maria Maravillas de Jesus, pray for us!
Saint Teresa of Jesus de los Andes
Juanita Fernández Solar was born in Santiago, Chile, on July 13, 1900. From her adolescence she was deeply devoted to Christ. She entered the monastery of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns at Los Andes on May 7, 1919, where she was given the name of Teresa of Jesus. She died on April 12 of the following year after having made her religious profession. She was canonized by Pope St. John Paul II on March 21, 1993, who proposed her as a model for young people. She is the first Chilean and the first member of the Teresian Carmel in Latin America to be canonized.
Saint Teresa of Jesus de los Andes, pray for us!