Since man’s life on earth is a time of trial, and all who would live devotedly in Christ must undergo persecution, and the devil your foe is on the prowl like a roaring lion looking for prey to devour, you must use every care to clothe yourselves in God’s armour so that you may be ready to withstand the enemy’s ambush.
Saint Albert of Jerusalem
Quia vero tentatio est vita hominis Super terram, et omnes qui pie volunt vivere in Christo persecutionem patiuntur, adversarius quoque vester, diabolus, tamquam leo rugiens circuit quaerens quem devoret, omni solicitudine studeatis indui armatura Dei, ut possitis stare adversus insidias inimici.
On 18 May 1291, the Crusader stronghold of Acre fell to the Mamluk Muslim forces after 6 weeks of siege. Carmelite historian Peter Thomas Rohrbach, O.C.D. explains what followed next:
With the fall of Acre the Latin kingdom collapsed and the Moslems proceeded to rid the country of the last vestige of the westerners. They turned up the coast and eradicated the groups at Tyre and Sidon, then turned down the coast again and took the city of Caiffa [Haifa] on July 30.
Upon capturing Caiffa, they immediately climbed Mount Carmel and massacred the Carmelites, and destroyed their building. The unreliable chronicle of William of Sanvico claims that the hermits were chanting the Salve Regina when they were set upon by the Moslems.
The massacre of 1291 marked the end of an epoch: the Latin kingdom was forever finished, the westerner was excluded from Palestine for centuries, and no Carmelite was to live on Mount Carmel until Prosper of the Holy Spirit returned the Order to its homeland in 1631 (Rohrbach 1966, 2015).
Rohrbach, P 1966, 2015, Journey to Carith: The Sources and Story of the Discalced Carmelites, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
Featured image: “Deus Vult” (God wills it) was the rallying cry associated with the Crusades, in particular the first crusade in the 11th century. The first Carmelite hermits, for whom St. Albert of Jerusalem wrote his Rule of Life, were believed to be crusaders who chose to lead a life of penance and prayer on the Mediterranean slope of Mount Carmel, rather than return to their homes in Europe. Ultimately, some of them gave their lives as witnesses to Christ when they were martyred at the hands of the Mamluks in 1291. The Martyrdom of the Carmelites is a wall painting executed in 1517 by Jörg Ratgeb (German, c. 1480–1526) in the Carmelite Cloister of Frankfurt, Germany. Photo credit: Web Gallery of Art (Public Domain).