The Monastery of the Carmelite Fathers
Mount Carmel, 1919 – 1931
excerpts from Father Elias Friedman’s transcription of a memoir by Francis Lamb O.C.D.
in the archives of the monastery
[31 January 1919] I made the rounds of the [Stella Maris] monastery of Mount Carmel, in which I found two hundred British troops installed. The church and choir were sealed off so that no one could enter without breaking the seals.
Fr. Elias, Bro. Ephrem and Bro. Redemptus told me that the Turks had pillaged the monastery and that when Bro. Ephrem asked for a receipt for all that they had taken away, the Turkish officer replied: “My sword is my receipt.” […]
The British officers quartered in the monastery after the Turks had fled, found the corridors strewn thickly with paper several inches deep, an evident sign that the Turks had decided to burn the monastery down, and that the plan was foiled by the unexpected arrival of the British on a cold, wet, dark night, according to the testimony of an Irish Catholic, captain Wigham of the Royal Engineers (1919).
On the 19th of March 1919, Feast of St. Joseph, the British vacated the monastery, which was taken over again by the Carmelites, that same day.
On the 25th of March, the Blessed Sacrament was placed in the tabernacle and as soon as a community of four Fathers could be assembled, the Divine Office was recited in the choir and regular observance [was] initiated.
On the first Sunday after Easter 1919, the statue of the Madonna was brought back from the parish-church in Haifa, with great solemnity and in the midst of public rejoicings. The Military Governor was astonished, saying that he had never seen so many people in Haifa before.
The demonstration of popular devotion and thanksgiving for peace opened the eyes of the British authorities to the influence of the Christians in the town; they began to realize the power of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, where the education of the youth of both sexes is to a large extent in the hands of Catholic Brothers and Sisters.
Francis Stuart Lamb, O.C.D.
Francis Stuart Lamb was born, 3rd July 1867, into a family connected to the British aristocracy, in particular, to the family of Lord Melbourne, Prime Minister of England under Queen Victoria. Professed in the Anglo-Irish Province of the OCD, 14th October 1886, he was ordained priest, 31st January 1892. After terms as Prior at Wincanton and Gerard’s Cross, he was appointed Vicar Provincial of his province, 15th June 1915. On the 16th December 1918, he received patents as Vicar of Mount Carmel and Vicar Provincial of the Palestine Province of the Order, «ad instar». He arrived in Haifa, 30th January 1919. On the 4th of September 1919, he was named Vicar of the Carmelite Nuns in Haifa, then in Zaourah (Bat-Galim). A year later he offered the General his resignation because his confrères wanted a Superior who could speak Italian; but the General (Luke), refused to accept it. On 19th March 1934, he left for Rome to attend the canonization of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. In 1935, Fr. Lamb handed over the Vicariate to Fr Edmund O’Callaghan and went to live in Cairo, 1935-1938. From 1938, he resided in the new OCD foundation in Jerusalem. Together with other religious, he was the object of a death-warrant issued against him by Abu Muhamad, leader of the Northern District of the Arab Palestine Revolt (dated 24 Rabi’a al-Thani, 1358 of the Hegira: mid-June 1939). On the 31st of August 1945, Fr. Lamb became conventual again on Mount Carmel. While in residence at El Muhraqah [the Carmelite monastery at the place of Elijah’s sacrifice], he took ill and was rushed back to [Stella Maris] monastery, where he passed away, 27th April 1950, aged 83, after some months of illness.
Read more of the history of the reconstruction and restoration of the Carmelite shrines on Mount Carmel following the First World War as recorded in Father Francis Lamb’s memoirs here.
Featured image: Thousands of pilgrims accompanied the Pilgrim Virgin statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on the slow, arduous procession from Saint Joseph Latin Catholic Parish in the City of Haifa up to the Stella Maris Church and Monastery of the Discalced Carmelite friars on the promontory of Mount Carmel on 5 May 2019. It was the 100th anniversary of the procession, which began as an act of gratitude for the liberation of the city from Turkish rule at the end of the first World War. | Photo credit: Discalced Carmelite General Curia / Facebook (used by permission)