Quote of the day, 3 July: Elias Friedman, O.C.D.

During the Crusades, the Greek monks built a small monastery where the “Stella Maris” monastery presently stands, and which they dedicated to St. Marina; whereas the Crusaders knew it as the Abbey of St. Margaret, Marina’s name in the West. Giambattista di S. Alessio O.C.D., in 1766, drew the ground plan of the Greek monastery, before erecting a large Carmelite monastery in its place. The plan shows 1) a cistern-like tomb 2) a small square oratory, presumably funerary, adherent to the rock wall of the tomb, of the sort known as “Makam” 3) a cloister 4) a wall which Giambattista postulated had been that of a church enclosing the makam, but which was more probably, an enclosure wall. […]

Ambrosius of St. Arsenius, the first Carmelite to die on Mount Carmel, arrived at Acre, 14th August 1634. In a letter to his General, he tells how, after inspecting the Cave of Elijah below, he visited the terrace above it; where he saw the very first church in the world erected in honour of the Mother of God. Behind the altar was the cave where Elijah hid, apparently the only legend connected with the cistern-tomb of the makam at that time. Ambrosius was evidently recounting what Fr. Prosper had been telling him. We learn from Giambattista di S. Alessio (1780) that Fr Prosper, on coming into possession of the terrace had wanted to rebuild the chapel (makam) standing in front of the cistern-tomb, but abandoned the idea for lack of funds. […]

Giambattista accepted as axiomatic that the cistern-tomb connected with the makam on the terrace, the remains of which subsist as a cave under the High Altar of “Stella Maris” church, had been the abode of Elijah and the flat table of rock at the eastern end had been the “Bed of the Prophet”. He set to clear out the cave and to modify the “Bed” so as to serve as a Latin altar, under divine inspiration, as he dramatically describes.

Giambattista expatiates marvellously on the prehistory of the makam. After contemplating the little cloud (symbol of the Virgin) from in front of his cave on the terrace, Elijah gathered together his disciples and built for them a chapel on the spot. When the Carmelite hermits who had been baptized in Jerusalem, returned to Mount Carmel, they cut out, inside the chapel an altar and a side-altar from the rock, for the celebration of Holy Mass, now that they had become Christians. Further changes were made by them to the chapel in 83 A.D., after the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. In no case did they alter the foundations laid by Elijah. In the 4th cent, St. Helena enlarged the chapel and, subsequently, in the year 885 A.D., the Emperor Basil decorated it. In Crusader times, Berthold further embellished it, all his activities, by then having been transferred from the wadi to the terrace. In [1291] the chapel was ruined by the Muslims. In 1766, God inspired him, Giambattista, with a great desire to rebuild the chapel. Giambattista drew the plans, collected the funds, and supervised the construction of a large Carmelite monastery on the terrace over the site of the makam, first chapel ever built in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Elias Friedman, O.C.D.
The miraculous statue blessed by Cardinal Rossi

Friedman, E 1992/1, ‘Christian legends of the terrace of Mount Carmel’, Teresianum, 43, pp. 251-264.

Featured image: On 3 July 1933, the statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was blessed by Cardinal Rafael Rossi, O.C.D. in the Parish of St. Teresa in Rome after a period of art conservation and restoration. The image had been transferred from Mount Carmel to Rome to place a solid body on the statue and then to ornament it, at the request of the General Chapter held at Stella Maris Basilica on Mount Carmel to mark the occasion of the III Centenary of the Discalced Carmelite foundation made on Mount Carmel by Fr. Prosper of the Holy Spirit in 1631.  The statue was sculpted in part with cedar from Lebanon. [Source: Discalced Carmelites]

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