Edith Stein was at home in the conventual family from the beginning. She used to laugh and joke like a child with the other Sisters until the tears ran down her cheeks. She used to declare that she had never laughed so much in all her life as during recreation in Carmel.
Everyone was at their ease with her. Soon after she herself had entered the Cologne Carmel she was given the wonderful experience of bringing in one of her young friends through her own example. This is what she wrote about it.
When we now stand facing each other in choir or walk together in procession I am struck more than ever by the wonderful ways of God. Naturally, in our seclusion we have a beautiful and silent Advent. How much one longs to send some of it to very many of those in the world… I believe that it would do them untold good to learn more of the peace of Carmel.
Teresia Renata Posselt, O.C.D.
Edith Stein: The Life of a Philosopher and Carmelite Chapter 14: In the School of Humility
Posselt, T 2005, Edith Stein: The Life of a Philosopher and Carmelite, translated from the German by Batzdorff S, Koeppel J, and Sullivan J, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
The Discalced Carmelite Friars dedicated their church and monastery in the Holy Land in homage to the “great miracle worker”, the Blessed Virgin of Carmel on the promontory of Mount Carmel in 1836.
Before the blessing of the church, the statue of the Blessed Virgin made a grand tour of Europe. Pope Pius VII received her in his private chapel for his personal veneration on 4th March 1823. His Holiness, seeing the image for the first time, exclaimed:
Bella, bella, bella! Such a devout image! Her virtues are carved in her face! That sculptor could not do what he has done except by revelation from heaven.
In 1932 the statue returned to Italy. The previous year, to commemorate the tercentenary of the Discalced Carmelites’ return to Mount Carmel, the monastery had hosted the General Chapter. Because it was felt that the statue’s garments were not in accord with its ornate surroundings, it was decided to have them carved in wood. Brother Luigi Poggi, conventual on Mount Carmel, carved a copy to be enthroned temporarily, while the head and hands were sent off to Rome.
The body was carved in Lebanese cedar, with instructions to keep the same proportions and pose as the original. In Europe, the work of restoration was entrusted to Emanuele Rieda, who finished it in less than a year.
The statue’s return to Mount Carmel was accompanied by great celebrations. In July and August the image was displayed in the Discalced Carmelites’ Roman churches and was blessed by Pius XI on the 25th of July, 1933.
At the end of August it was brought to Naples where three days’ solemn feast was kept. Finally on the 1st of September it was loaded onto the steamer Helouan bound for Haifa. On the journey the statue was accompanied by Discalced Carmelite students from the International College, bound for Mount Carmel where they were to study philosophy.
The steamer made port at Alexandria in Egypt and Port Said and reached Haifa on 8th of September. The statue was escorted by a long procession made up of civic and religious leaders, all Catholic groups in Haifa and a group of pilgrims who had come specially from Europe. In the evening it was solemnly enthroned above the high altar in the basilica.
Carmelites have chosen Mary as their Patroness and spiritual Mother and always keep before the eyes of their heart the Most Pure Virgin who guides everyone to the perfect knowledge and imitation of Christ.
MESSAGE FOR THE CENTENARY OF THE PROCESSION OF OUR LADY OF CARMEL Haifa, 5 May 2019
Fr. Saverio Cannistrà of the Sacred Heart, O.C.D. Discalced Carmelite Superior General
This year we celebrate the centenary of the procession of Our Lady of Carmel in Haifa. The first procession was held on April 27, 1919, Sunday in albis, and was organized to solemnly bring back to the sanctuary of Stella Maris the statue of Our Lady of Carmel, that in 1914 at the beginning of the First World War, had been transferred to the parish church in the city. The Vicar Father of Mount Carmel at that time, the Englishman P. Francis Lamb (1867-1950), writes in his memoirs that there was an extraordinary participation of the people and that the English authorities were struck by this manifestation of faith and devotion for the Mother of God in the Latin Catholic community of Haifa. It was linked to the end of the Great War and the desire to thank the Lord and Our Lady for the return of peace. The procession was repeated in the following years until it became the most important in the Holy Land after that of Palm Sunday in Jerusalem.
Here in Haifa, devotion to Mary is like a centuries-old tree with large branches and deep roots […]
We arrived in Villanueva de la Jara on the first Sunday of Lent, the feast of St. Barbaciani, [21 February] the vigil of the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, in the year 1580. On this same day at the time of the high Mass, the Blessed Sacrament was reserved in the church of the glorious St. Anne.
The city council and some others along with Doctor Ervías came out to receive us, and we got down from our wagons at the church in the town, which was quite far from St. Anne’s. The joy of the whole town was so great.
It gave me much consolation to see the happiness with which they received the order of the Blessed Virgin, our Lady.
We had heard from afar the peal of the church bells. Once we were inside the church, they began the Te Deum, one verse sung by the choir and the other played by the organ.
When it was finished, they carried the Blessed Sacrament on one portable platform and a statue of our Lady on another, and crosses and banners. The procession proceeded with much pomp.
We were in the middle near the Blessed Sacrament with our white mantles and our veils covering our faces, and next to us were many of our discalced friars from their monastery and Franciscans from the monastery of St. Francis that was located there, and one Dominican who happened to be present (even though he was alone it made me happy to see that habit there).
Since the distance was great, there were many altars set up along the way. From time to time the procession stopped and some verses were recited in honor of our order which moved us to great devotion. So did the sight of all of them praising the great God present in our midst and the fact that because of Him they paid so much honor to us seven poor, little discalced nuns who were there.
While I was engaged in all these reflections, I became very ashamed in recalling that I was among them and that if they were to do what I deserved they would all turn against me.
Saint Teresa of Avila The Book of Her Foundations, Chapter 28
We are grateful to photographer José-María Moreno García for making his photo-documentary of the Fifth Centenary visit to Saint Teresa’s foundation of Villanueva de la Jara available for download under a Creative Commons license. To see the complete photo album from this foundation, click here.
Before I go, I want to leave you my statue of the Most Holy Virgin as a sign of our perpetual union. It has been my constant companion. She has been my intimate confidante from the youngest years of my life. She has listened to me tell of my joys and sorrows. She has often comforted my heart broken by sorrow. I am leaving the statue with you to take my place. She has listened to me tell of my joys and sorrows. Talk to her, heart to heart, just as you do to me. When you feel lonely, as I often do, look at her and you will see her smiling face, telling you, “Your mother will never leave you alone.” When you are sorrowful and feeling down and cannot find anyone to whom you can unburden yourself, run to her presence and you Mother’s sorrowful gaze will tell you “There is no sorrow like mine.” She will comfort you, placing in your soul a drop of the consolation that springs from her wounded heart.
Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes
She has listened to me tell of my joys and sorrows. Talk to her, heart to heart, just as you do to me.
The Writings of Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes: An Abridgement
Translated by Michael D. Griffin, OCD
Edited by Barbara Haight Garcia, OCDS
New Life Publishing, 2003
Photos by Chema Concellón from his coverage of Holy Week in Valladolid, Spain, 2007