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GALILEE – On Saturday, November 5, 2017, the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel celebrated the 125th anniversary of the foundation of Our Lady of Mount Carmel during a Mass presided by Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, at Stella Maris Monastery in Haifa.

The Mass was concelebrated by Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine; Fr. Hanna Kildani, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Nazareth; Fr. Joseph Sweiss, with the presence of the Carms and the faithful who came from Haifa and the neighbouring regions.

The celebration started with a procession with the statue of the Infant Jesus, the Icon of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the official chronicles of the monastery and the jubilee candle.

On this occasion, Archbishop Pizzaballa delivered a blessing granted by His Holiness Pope to the Carmelites, in which he urged them to persevere in their lives of contemplation and prayer, in order to radiate the joy of the Risen Christ on the Church in the Holy Land.  

Both Pope Leo XIII and Pope John Paul II had given their blessings as well for the Carmelite nuns in 1895 and 2004 respectively.

Before receiving the final blessings, the nuns presented a book, in French and Arabic, about the history of the Carmelite Order and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Monastery.

On the 16th of July of every year, the faithful celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It has been a tradition between the Francescan and the Carmelite Order, during which the Franciscan friars preside over the Mass of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Carms preside over the Mass of Assumption of Virgin Mary on August 15th in the Basilica of Annunciation. Also, a traditional procession of the statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel takes place on the third Sunday after Easter.

The Church also celebrates the feast of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus on October 15th of every year.   

A brief history of the Order and the Monastery of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel

The Order was founded in 1209 after the enactment of the Rule of Saint Albert of Vercelli which organized the spiritual and social life of the hermits who lived in the caves of Mount Carmel. By abiding to this Rule, the hermits commit to continuous prayers, silence, work, and the celebration of daily masses.

Afterward, St. Simon Stock made some changes to the Rule to stress on community life, as well as allowing the hermits to live in cities and establish academic institutions.

Both St. Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross are the ones who introduced reformation to the Carmelite Order. In 1562, St.Teresa established St. Joseph Monastery in Avila in Spain, and then, with St. John the Cross, the first monastery for the Carms was founded in 1568.

In 1892, the prioress Mother Mary of the Sacred Heart fulfilled the wishes of Mother Mary of Jesus of establishing a monastery for the carmelites on Mount Carmel, in which the monastery was inaugurated during a Mass presided by Fr. Felix, the prior of the monastery.

In 1934, the Carmelites were able to purchase a piece of land on top of Mount Carmel after they sold a part of the garden at the old monastery, after which the current monastery was built in 1935.  

Saher Kawas

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