Marie du jour 2023, 18 May: St. Albert of Jerusalem

An oratory should be built as conveniently as possible among the cells, where, if it can be done without difficulty, you are to gather each morning to hear Mass.

Saint Albert of Jerusalem

Carmelite Rule, 14

The Carmelite community of hermits in their separate cells had grown in numbers over the years, and Brocard had to provide a larger chapel. Accordingly, he moved the center of the community from the cave of Elijah to the fountain of Elijah, the present wadi ’ain es-siah, a site in a chasm of the mountain some miles south of el-chadr.

The fountain was supposedly a watering spot which Elijah used when he lived on the mountain, and beginning with the time of Brocard it became the focal point of the Carmelite Order. The rule of Carmel is, in fact, addressed to Brocard and to “the other brother hermits who live with him near the fountain of Mount Carmel.”

The most significant element about the development at wadi ’ain es-siah was the fact that the chapel constructed around the turn of the century was dedicated to Our Lady. There are frequent and authoritative citations in the contemporary documents about this “small church of Our Lady.”

This is the first public act of demonstration of the important Marian character of the Order, a tradition which manifested itself more clearly throughout the thirteenth century. The recent excavations undertaken by the Carmelite Order on Mount Carmel in 1959 [and again in the 1990s] unearthed the remains of this small rectangular church, as well as some of the original caves of the hermits.

Peter Thomas Rohrbach, O.C.D.

I. The Birth of an Order

Note: We recall that on this day, 18 May 1291, the Crusader stronghold of Acre fell to the Mamluk Muslim forces after 6 weeks of siege. The Carmelite hermits who resided at the Convent of St. Berthold on Mount Carmel and at the cradle of our Order in the wadi ’ain es-siah, on the Mediterranean slope of the mountain, all perished. Tradition holds that they sang the Salve Regina at their martyrdom.

Nuns who are members of the Association of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, representing monasteries in the Holy Land, Egypt, Morocco, and Syria, gathered to pray in the first chapel of the Carmelite Order, located in the wadi ’ain es-siah on the Mediterranean slope of Mount Carmel. There they read together the Carmelite Rule of St. Albert in observance of the Eighth Centenary of the promulgation of the Rule in 2007.
Image credit: Holy Land Carmelites (Used by permission)

Text of the Carmelite Rule, from Constitutions of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. Approved by the General Chapter celebrated in September 1995 and published by the order of the Most Reverend Father Joseph Chalmers, Prior General. Chapters have been renumbered since the Rule was published in 1995. The Chapter numbers used above are the result of a joint meeting of the General Councils of the Carmelites and the Discalced Carmelites in January 1999. Translation by Fr. Bede Edwards, originally published in 1973 in The Rule of Saint Albert, ed. Hugh Clarke & Bede Edwards, Aylesford and Kensington.

Rohrbach, P 1966, 2015, Journey to Carith: The Sources and Story of the Discalced Carmelites, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Featured image: Statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the cloister garden of the Discalced Carmelite nuns, Monastery of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Haifa. Additional photos of the Discalced Carmelite monastic communities on Mount Carmel are published on the website of Stella Maris Monastery.

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