These are some of the figures that have shaped the spirituality of Carmel over the centuries. They are men and women who heard the “still small voice” of God and followed it with generous fidelity. We are encouraged by the example of their lives. Their teachings still inspire us today.
- Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
The 13th Century hermits of Mount Carmel dedicated their first little Chapel to Mary, Mother of God, and they called themselves her “brothers”. Mary has continued to be patroness and model for all Carmelites as the one who pondered God’s word in her heart and offered herself totally as servant of God’s plan of redemption.
- Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity
Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity
1880 – 1906
Elizabeth Catez was born near Bourges, France. She was a gifted pianist and a very sociable person with a great flair for friendship. She also had a deep sense of God’s presence in her life and was determined to give herself totally to Him. She entered the Carmel of Dijon in 1901. The mystery of God dwelling within her inspired her spirituality and led her to cultivate interior silence as a way of attentiveness to her Divine Guest.
- Saint Edith Stein
Saint Edith Stein
(Teresa Benedicta of the Cross 1891-1941)
Edith Stein was born of a Jewish family at Breslau, Germany. She studied philosophy and embarked on an academic career. She was converted to Roman Catholicism in 1922 after reading the Life of St. Teresa of Avila, and entered Cologne Carmel in 1933. Prayer became her sole work and she agonised for her suffering Jewish people as Hitler’s power increased. Edith was arrested by the Nazis and died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz in 1942. She faced her death in solidarity with her people and with the crucified Christ.
- The Prophet Elijah
The Prophet Elijah
The Hebrew scriptures tell of the prophet Elijah’s defence of God’s honour on Mount Carmel. He became an inspiring figure for the early Carmelites who settled there and his words were adopted as our Order’s motto: Zelo zelatus sum pro Domino Deo exercitum (“with zeal have I been zealous for the Lord, God of hosts”).
- Saint John of the Cross
Saint John of the Cross
1542 – 1591
Born in 1542 in central Spain, John grew up in great poverty but in an atmosphere of love. At 21 he joined the Carmelite Order and later joined Teresa of Avila’s Discalced reform. God communicated himself to John with increasing intensity and he gave expression to this relationship in his famous poetry and in his own commentaries on the poems. He had a special understanding of the more dark and difficult aspects of the spiritual journey and the vital part they play in our growth. He remains a sure guide in the ways of prayer today.
- Saint Teresa of Avila
Saint Teresa of Avila
1515 – 1582
This passionate lover of God reformed her Order in the spirit of its original Carmelite simplicity and fervour. With her characteristic determination, she overcame countless obstacles in founding 17 convents in Spain. Her communities are now in 90 countries around the world. Through her writings Teresa remains an outstanding teacher on prayer, which she presents as an intimate exchange of friendship with the God who loves us.
- Saint Teresa de los Andes
Saint Teresa de los Andes
1900 – 1920
Juanita Fernandez Solar was born at Santiago, Chile. From her adolescence she was devoted to Christ. She entered Carmel at Los Andes in May 1919, where she was given the name of Teresa of Jesus and died just one year later. In her short life she radiated joy and love, even in the midst of severe suffering: the joy and love she found in being united to Jesus Christ, “He is my only joy”.
- Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
1873 – 1897
Thérèse Martin was born into a devout Catholic family, entered Carmel at Lisieux aged 15 and died of tuberculosis at the age of 24. She taught a very simple way to God, accessible to everyone. Hers was a “Little Way” of confidence in God’s merciful love and faithfulness in meeting life’s everyday realities with love. Despite the shortness of her cloistered life, her message made a worldwide impact and she continues to speak to people of today.