Haifa is the third largest city in Israel and is part of the coastal mountain range of Mount Carmel. In 2018, 40,000 of the population were Arabs, out of 280,000.
Previously, two cities existed where Haifa now stands. One to the south of Mount Carmel, called Sycaminos, which means the city of the Sycamore trees, and another to the North South of the Mountain, called Porphyrion, a Greek word that means the "city of purple", due to the famous high production of this color on the shores of the nearby ocean.
This city has another Phoenician name, “Hifa”. It is said that it comes from the Hebrew word “Hay Bo”, which means “lived here”, named after Elijah the Prophet. Traditions has it that he resided in the area.
Christianity reached these two cities early on, just like all the cities of the Mediterranean coast. In fact, traces of a church were found at a site called Castra Samaritanorum, which was destroyed by the Samaritans during their revolt in the 6th century AD.
In 1208, Mgr Albertus, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, founded the Carmelite fathers, near the "Elijah Spring" at the foot of Mount Carmel. However, the Carmelites returned to Europe after the massacre of the monks in 1291 and did not return to Haifa until the 17th century.
Between 1799 and 1803, the Carmelites in the Holy Land had to leave again. Then, in the summer of 1803, Peter Alexander, the head of the order, sent a new deputy from Malta named Fr. Jules of the Savior, to guard the Carmelites’ property in Haifa.
After the Carmelite fathers settled back and in a new location, they started building a new monastery for monks and a new church for the parish. The new church was designed by architect Antonio Barluzzi, who built the Church of Gethsemane, the Church of Jabal al-Tur, and the Church of the Beatitudes. The current church was built in June 29th, 1961.
Photos from our Historical Archives office