Marie du jour 2022, 21 May: Carmel in America

As prayer is one of the chief objects of the Order of Carmel, the Sisters are constantly called upon from far and near to give the assistance of their prayers in all kinds of spiritual and temporal necessities. The following incident will serve to show with what faith and confidence the people recur to the Community:

The Baltimore Sun, Monday, September 25, 1882
“Small-Pox Cases at Large”, The Baltimore Sun, Monday, September 25, 1882, p. 4.

In the latter part of the year 1882, small-pox broke out in the city of Baltimore and it was feared that it would become an epidemic. Many persons requested the prayers of the Sisters to avert the calamity, and they chanted daily, in community, the hymn to Our Lady, for help in time of pestilence: “Stella coeli extirpavity” [sic].

La procession des Carmélites_GUILLOT Laurent_Musee Saint-Denis
La procession des Carmélites, Laurent Guillot (French, 18th c.), Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Saint-Denis

In January of 1883, a secular newspaper published the following item: “The Mayor received yesterday a card, signed,  ‘Our City,’ requesting the prayers of the good Carmelite Nuns for the small-pox sufferers.”

On hearing of this petition, the Sisters redoubled their supplications and daily went in procession through the cloisters, carrying a statue of Our Lady and chanting the Litany of the Blessed Virgin, with appropriate versicles and prayers.

Thus they continued to implore the mercy of God until the faith of the good citizens of Baltimore was rewarded and all danger was at an end.

Charles Currier

Chapter XXXVI, The End

Stella caeli extirpavit was the prayer of the Poor Clare nuns of Santa Clara Monastery in Coimbra, Portugal in 1317 during the “Black Death” (1347-1351). It is reported that the prayer had miraculous beginnings.

Translation: “The Star of Heaven Who nourished the Lord has driven out the plague of death which the first parents of men planted. This very Star is now worthy to restrain the tempest whose wars kill the people with the sore of dreaded death. O glorious Star of the Sea, save us from this pestilence. Hear us, for Thy Son honors Thee and refuses Thee nothing. Save us, Jesus, on whose behalf the Virgin Mother beseeches Thee!”

Currier, C 1890, Carmel in America: a centennial history of the Discalced Carmelites in the United States, J. Murphy, Baltimore.

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