Escape to Europe

escape1Persecution by the Saracens in the 13th century destroyed the peace of Mt. Carmel, as a result, some of the hermits escaped to Europe. Thus in 1247, Pope Innocent IV issued the following appeal to the European Diocesans: “the assault of the pagans, it is known, has forced our beloved sons the hermit brothers of St. Mary’s of Mt. Carmel, not without great affliction of spirit, to betake themselves to other countries. We ask you, and charge you, brethren, to receive them benignly when they come to you”.

The Rule of Life of the hermits of Mt. Carmel was basically eremitical and ideally suited to the life in the Holy Land, but it could not fit into the European setting of the time. Consequently, the Rule of Life was amended at the request of these hermits by Pope Innocent IV, to fit into the European society of that time; hence the way of life of the hermits of Mt. Carmel acquired its (Mendicant) coenobitical character which has continued till this day. This form of religious life united the contemplative and the active life and it was nearer to the people.

Today the successors of these hermits of Mt. Carmel form the Carmelite Order, and our official title now reads: “The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel”. And our life-long devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is solemnly commemorated and celebrated on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel which comes up every year on the16th of July.

In the 15th century the branch of the contemplative Carmelite nuns was initiated. Also, the first groups of the laity were formed who desired to share in the Carmelite spirituality.
In the 16th century St. Teresa of Jesus renewed the Carmelite heritage by giving birth to a new life, the fruit of her spiritual experience, in which the Gospel and humanism are merged, and in which Christ and the Church are in a special way the central and principal inspirations for the life. The recreated Carmelite legacy and the evangelical and missionary vitality of St. Teresa of Jesus, for which she is our Mother and Foundress assisted by St. John of the Cross, shape our soul and family identity as Discalced Carmelites.

Worldwide, we, the Discalced Carmelite Friars are more than four thousand in number. There are approximately twelve thousand Discalced Carmelite Nuns. The members of our Secular Order number around forty thousand.