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Ontario and Northwestern New York Region, Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary

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Lay Carmelites

Who We Are

Charisms. Lay Carmelites (Third Order Secular of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel) are Roman Catholic men and women, mostly laity, called to:

live a life of allegiance to Jesus Christ, in a contemplative attitude which fashions and supports our life of prayer, fraternity, and service.[1]

Origins. Shortly after the end of the Third Crusade, a group of latin hermits were observed living on the slopes of Mount Carmel.

Others, in imitation of the holy anchorite, the prophet Elijah, led solitary lives on Mount Carmel, especially on that part thereof which overhangs the city of Porphyria, now called Haifa...where in little comb-like cells, those bees of the Lord laid up sweet spiritual honey.[2]

Some time between 1206-14, the papal legate and patriarch of Jerusalem, Albert of Vercelli, wrote a way of life for the hermits. They were to elect their leader (Ch 4), live in separate cells (Ch 6), ponder scripture (Ch 10), pray the Hours (Ch 11), hold possessions in common (Ch 12), gather daily for morning Mass (Ch 14), gather on Sundays for discussions (Ch 15), fast (Ch 16), and work in silence (Ch 20).[3]

Around 1238, the hermits began migrating to the cities of Europe.[4] By 1247, Pope Innocent IV modified their Rule, making them a mendicant order. Since this time, Carmelites have embraced a dual spirituality of contemplative prayer (eremitic/hermit) and active ministry (mendicant/friar).

Over the centuries, many religious and lay groups have become affiliated with the Carmelite Order. Today, the Carmelite family includes friars, contemplative nuns, active sisters, hermits, apostolic institutes, Lay Carmelites, lay missionaries, confraternities, those enroled in the Brown Scapular, those who wear the Brown Scapular, and others.

Saints. Some Carmelites have become an inspiration to countless others, and noted by the Church for their path to holiness. Currently, the Church recognises 3 doctors, 11 saints, and 23 blesseds from the Carmelite Orders. [5] Among these Carmelites are St. Mary Magdalen de'Pazzi, St. Teresa of Jesus, St. John of the Cross, St. Therese of the Child Jesus, St. Nuno Alvares Pereira, and Bl. Titus Brandsma. Well-known Carmelites of recent times include Sr. Lucy of Fatima and Bl. Pope John Paul II (a Carmelite tertiary).


[1] Joseph Chalmers (2003). Living the Carmelite Way. Part I, 7.31.

[2] Jacques de Vitry (c. 1216-28).

[3] Albert of Jerusalem (c. 1206-14). formula vitae.

[4] Joachim Smet (2011). The Mirror of Carmel: A Brief History of the Carmelite Order. p. 9.

[5] Order of Carmelites (2012). Calendar.

Lay Carmelites VLine

"The desert and the parched land will exalt; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song. The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendour of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the Lord, the splendour of our God."
- Isaiah 35.1-2

"Carmel teaches the Church how to pray."
- Pope Benedict XVI

"Carmel is a source of wealth for the whole Christian community."
- Bl. Pope John Paul II

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Hermit cell on Mount Carmel.

Carmelite Ruins
Ruins of the oratory on Mount Carmel, where the first Carmelite hermits gathered daily for morning Mass.

© Lay Carmelites, Ontario and Northwestern New York Region.