CARMELITE MONASTERY, TRANQUILLA,

KNOCK, CLAREMORRIS,

CO. MAYO, IRELAND.

 

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BEGINNINGS


Love needs to be alone with the loved one.
It was this basic instinct of the human heart that drew our first Carmelites to settle as hermits on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land over 800 years ago.

Brave men these! Some were ex-Crusaders; others pilgrims, who had trudged the roads of Europe to visit the land of Christ’s birth and walk in His footsteps. Settling on Mount Carmel, an ancient “Holy Place”, they formed a hermit community;
their goal: a life of constant prayer.

What eventually evolved was a distinctive form of life, primarily eremitical, but lived in a community setting.
They vowed allegiance, not to any earthly sovereign, but rather to Mary, whom they looked upon as Queen, mother and sister.
Their father figure was the fiery prophet Elijah.

The result was a rich intertwining of solitude and community, strength and gentleness – a spirit still characteristic of Carmel.
Fleeing to Europe as refugees in the 13th Century, they faced a dilemma: adapt, or die out?  They adapted, taking on apostolic work, but still retaining a strong hermit orientation.
They spread rapidly, arriving in Ireland before the end of that Century.

The 15th Century saw communities of women being founded in the Order.
Into such a community in Avila, Teresa de Ahumada, a vibrant young Spanish woman entered around 1535.
After some years, she felt called to a deeper life of prayer than was possible for her in her large and busy community. Blessed by God with gifts of prayer and a growing passionate desire for the salvation of all people, she longed for the solitude of the early hermits, so that she might give herself wholly to God.
What Teresa wanted, Teresa usually got!
Unable to go out to the desert, she would create a desert space of freedom within the city.

To achieve this, she founded a small, poor convent, with a much stricter form of cloister than was then customary. (see Page below: FREEDOM).
Here she and a small group of like-minded women would be free to live a life of constant prayer, in a unique blend of solitude and community, modelled on that of Mount Carmel. (see Page below: LIFE).
One of Teresa’s special charisms was a profound insight into the mystery of the Church and the apostolic value of prayer. She saw prayer as a powerful weapon in the battle against evil and in the service of the Church.
Before her death, she founded seventeen Carmelite Monasteries in Spain.
Together with St. John of the Cross, she also founded communities of Carmelite Friars, imbued with the same ideals.
Both Friars and Nuns spread rapidly, reaching Ireland during the 17th Century.

Tranquilla was founded in Dublin in 1833 and transferred to Knock in 1981.
Knock surely is a fitting home for an Order whose joy it has always been to say
“Carmel is all Mary’s”.

(Note: Teresa’s own account of her life and the story of her foundations is a saga which makes fascinating reading.
(See: www.ocd.pcn.net)

 

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