Our Roots

The Order of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, rooted in the contemplative tradition of the Church, has its own roots sunk into the soil of the Near East where on Mt. Carmel a small group of hermits, looking to the prophet Elijah as their inspiration and the Mother of God as their guide, came together under the Rule given them by St. Albert of Jerusalem in 1204. Some of them put down the sword of the Crusaders and took up the sword of the Spirit, dedicating themselves to a life where “each one will remain in his cell or nearby it, day and night meditating on the law of the Lord and keeping vigil in prayer.” Due to strife and unrest in the Middle East, the hermit brothers migrated to Europe, adapting their way of life to the new demands of the times. The women’s branch of the Order began in 1452 when a group of beguines were drawn to the Carmelite spirit. A century later St. Teresa of Avila initiated her reform which spread throughout the world and became known as the Discalced Carmelites.

Four American women, who had gone abroad to join the English-speaking Carmel of Hoogstraten, returned to their homeland to found, in 1790, the first community of religious women in the thirteen original States. 

They landed in Maryland, establishing a Carmel at Port Tobacco, and forty years later moved to Baltimore.

From there a foundation was sent to Boston (1890), which in turn founded the Carmel of Santa Clara (1906).  It was from Santa Clara that the foundresses of the San Diego Carmel came in 1926, headed by Mother Emmanuel of the Passion as the first Prioress.

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