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.
men these! Some were ex-Crusaders; others pilgrims, who had trudged the roads
of Europe to visit the land of Christs birth and walk in His footsteps.
Settling on Mount Carmel, an ancient Holy Place, they formed a hermit
their goal: a life of constant prayer.
eventually evolved was a distinctive form of life, primarily eremitical, but lived
in a community setting.
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
result was a rich intertwining of solitude and community, strength and gentleness
a spirit still characteristic of Carmel.
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.
15th Century saw communities of women being founded in the Order.|
a community in Avila, Teresa de Ahumada, a vibrant young Spanish woman entered
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.|
wanted, Teresa usually got!
Unable to go out to the desert, she would create
a desert space of freedom within the city.
achieve this, she founded a small, poor convent, with a much stricter form of
cloister than was then customary. (see Page below:
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).
of Teresas 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
Both Friars and Nuns spread rapidly, reaching Ireland during the
was founded in Dublin in 1833 and transferred to Knock in 1981.
is a fitting home for an Order whose joy it has always been to say
Carmel is all Marys.
Teresas own account of her life and the story of her foundations is a saga
which makes fascinating reading.