order of Carmel traces its origin to the Holy Land,
to Mount Carmel, which rises above the city
of Haifa, Israel, facing the Mediterranean Sea.
On that mountainside in the eleventh and twelfth
centuries, some hermits of European background began
to live lives of solitude and prayer, after the
example of the prophet, Elijah. By the first
decade of the thirteenth century, they had formed
themselves into a colony and desired to adopt a
common way of life. Under the leadership of a man
known to us only as "B", they asked Albert, the
Patriarch of Jerusalem, in whose jurisdiction Mount
Carmel lay, to draw up for them a rule of life.
provided the hermits with their rule sometime between
1206 and 1214, thus establishing the community,
which became the Carmelite Order. The group had
a special devotion to Our Lady, dedicating their
oratory to her and placing themselves under her
protection. In time they became known as "the
Brothers of St. Mary of Mount Carmel."
the heart of the Carmelite Rule is the person of
Christ: "To live a life of allegiance to Jesus
Christ" was the hermits' entire desire and purpose.
The Rule of Carmel is unique in its brevity and
simplicity. The centrality of solitary prayer is
clear: "Each one of you is to stay in his own cell
or nearby, pondering the Lord's law day and night
. . . unless attending to some other duty." (Rule,
#8) Rather than laying down many precepts and laws,
the Rule is notable for its practicality and common
sense, shown in such phrases as, "if it can be done
without difficulty", and, "necessity overrides every