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Western Christianity


Carmelites

Doctrines Carmelite belief and practice derive from the rule of St. Albert. Based on this rule, Carmelites seek to lead a life of allegiance to Christ through adopting a life of chastity, poverty and contemplation. Carmelites spend much of their time in solitary meditative prayer in their cell, coming together for meals but maintaining lengthy periods of silence. Traditionally Carmelites have abstained from eating meat, have owned everything in common and have supported themselves through their work.

History In about 1155 a number of devout men established a community based on silence and austerity on Mount Carmel in Palestine. Their rule was written by St. Albert Avogrado, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, between 1206 and 1214 and given final approval by Pope Innocenzo in 1247.
In about 1240 the community set out from Mount Carmel and established themselves in England, where the first general chapter was held in 1247. Transforming themselves from a community of hermits into a mendicant order, the Carmelites set up centres throughout western Europe, and established the first order of Carmelite nuns in 1452.
An important reform movement that came out of the Catholic Reformation was the order of Discalced Carmelite nuns, which was founded in 1562, and whose name derives from the practice of wearing sandals instead of shoes and stockings.
Both orders suffered badly as a result of the French revolution and the establishment of anti-clerical governments in the 19th century. The 20th century, however, has seen a revival of the Carmelites, particularly in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Symbols An important symbol associated with the Carmelites is the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The scapular is a brown piece of clothing worn by monks and is often taken as a symbol of the austere and self-sacrificial character of the monastic vocation. In the case of the Carmelites the scapular symbolises the special dedication of the Carmelites to Mary, the Mother of God.

Adherents At the present time the Carmelites have about 2,200 religious adherents.

Headquarters/
Main Centre
 Curia Generalizia dei Carmelitani, Via Giovanni Lanza, 138, 00184 Rome - Italy Tel: (+39) 064620181 Fax: 0646201847