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CARMELITES

in a south-easterly direction, and finally joining the mountains of Samaria. Its maximum height is at ‘Esfia, 1760 ft. It was included in the territory of the tribe of Asher. No great political event is recorded in connexion with it; it appears throughout the Old Testament “either as a symbol or as a sanctuary”; its name means “garden-land.” Its fruitfulness is referred to by Isaiah and by Amos; Micah describes it as wooded, to which was no doubt due its value as a hiding-place (Amos ix. 3). It is now wild, only a few patches being cultivated; most of the mountain is covered with a thick brushwood of evergreens, oaks, myrtles, pines, &c., which is gradually being cleared away. That the cultivation was once much more extensive is indicated by the large number of rock-hewn wine and olive presses. Vines and olives are now found at ‘Esfia only. The outstanding position of Carmel, its solitariness, its visibility over a wide area of country, and its fertility, marked it out as a suitable place for a sanctuary from very ancient times. It is possibly referred to in the Palestine lists of Thothmes III. as Rosh Kodsu, “the holy headland.” An altar of Jehovah existed here from early times; it was destroyed when the Phoenician Baal claimed the country under Jezebel, and repaired by Elijah (1 Kings xviii. 30) before the great sacrifice which decided the claims of the contending deities. The traditional site of this sacrifice is at El-Muhraka, at the eastern end of the ridge. The Druses still visit this site, where is a dilapidated structure of stones, as a holy place for sacrifice. On the bank of the Kishon below is a mound known as Tell el-Ḳusīs, “the Priest’s mound,” but the connexion that has been sought between this name and the slaughter of the priests of Baal is hardly justifiable. Other sites on the hill are traditionally connected with Elijah, and some melon-like fossils are explained as being fruits refused to him by its owner, who was punished by having them turned to stone. Elisha was stationed here for a time. Tacitus describes the hill as the site of an oracle, which Vespasian consulted. Iamblichus in his life of Pythagoras speaks of it as a place of great sanctity forbidden to the vulgar. A grove of trees, called the “Trees of the Forty” [Martyrs], still remains, no doubt in former times a sacred grove. So early as the 4th century Christian hermits began to settle here, and in 1207 the Carmelite order was organized. The monastery, founded at the fountain of Elijah in 1209, has had many vicissitudes: the monks were slaughtered or driven to Europe in 1238 and the building decayed; it was visited and refounded by St Louis in 1252; again despoiled in 1291; once more rebuilt in 1631, and, in 1635 (when the monks were massacred), sacked and turned into a mosque. Once more the monks established themselves, only to be murdered after Napoleon’s retreat in 1799. The church and the monastery were entirely destroyed in 1821 by ‘Abd Allah, pasha of Acre, on the plea that the monks would favour the revolting Greeks; but it was shortly afterwards rebuilt by order from the Porte, partly at ‘Abd Allah’s expense and partly by contributions raised in Europe, Asia and Africa by Brother Giovanni Battista of Frascati. The villages with which the mountain was once covered have been to a large extent depopulated by the Druses.  (R. A. S. M.) 


CARMELITES, in England called White Friars (from the white mantle over a brown habit), one of the four mendicant orders. The stories concerning the origin of this order, seriously put forward and believed in the 17th and 18th centuries, are one of the curiosities of history. It was asserted that Elias established a community of hermits on Mount Carmel, and that this community existed without break until the Christian era and was nothing else than a Jewish Carmelite order, to which belonged the Sons of the Prophets and the Essenes. Members of it were present at St Peter’s first sermon on Pentecost and were converted, and built a chapel on Mount Carmel in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who, as well as the apostles, enrolled herself in the order. In 1668 the Bollandist Daniel Papenbroek (1628–1714), in the March volumes of the Acta Sanctorum, rejected these stories as fables. A controversy arose and the Carmelites had recourse to the Inquisition. In Spain they succeeded in getting the offending volumes of the Acta censured, but in Rome they were less successful, and so hot did the controversy become that in 1698 a decree was issued imposing silence upon both parties, until a formal decision should be promulgated—which has not yet been done.

The historical origin of the Carmelites must be placed at the middle of the 12th century, when a crusader from Calabria, named Berthold, and ten companions established themselves as hermits near the cave of Elias on Mount Carmel. A Greek monk, Phocas, who visited the Holy Land in 1185, gives an account of them, and says that the ruins of an ancient building existed on Mount Carmel; but though it is likely enough that there had previously been Christian monks and hermits on the spot, it is impossible to place the beginning of the Carmelite institute before Berthold. About 1210 the hermits on Carmel received from Albert, Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, a rule comprising sixteen articles. This was the primitive Carmelite rule. The life prescribed was strictly eremitical: the monks were to live in separate cells or huts, devoted to prayer and work; they met only in the oratory for the liturgical services, and were to live a life of great silence, seclusion, abstinence and austerity. This rule received papal approbation in 1226. Soon, however, the losses of the Christian arms in Palestine made Carmel an unsafe place of residence for western hermits, and so, c. 1240, they migrated first to Cyprus and thence to Sicily, France and England. In England the first establishment was at Alnwick and the second at Aylesford, where the first general chapter of the order was held in 1247, and St Simon Stock, an English anchorite who had joined the order, was elected general. During his generalate the institute was adapted to the conditions of the western lands to which it had been transplanted, and for this purpose the original rule had to be in many ways altered: the austerities were mitigated, and the life was turned from eremitical into cenobitical, but on the mendicant rather than the monastic model. The polity and government were also organized on the same lines, and the Carmelites were turned into mendicants and became one of the four great orders of Mendicant Friars, in England distinguished as the “White Friars” from the white mantle worn over the dark brown habit. This change was made and the new rule approved in 1247, and under this form the Carmelites spread all over western Europe and became exceedingly popular, as an order closely analogous to the Dominicans and Franciscans. In the course of time, further relaxations of the rule were introduced, and during the Great Schism the Carmelites were divided between the two papal obediences, rival generals being elected,—a state of things that caused still further relaxations. To cope with existing evils Eugenius IV. approved in 1431 of a rule notably milder than that of 1247, but many houses clung to the earlier rule; thus arose among the Carmelites the same division into “observants” and “conventuals” that wrought such mischief among the Franciscans. During the 15th and 16th centuries various attempts at reform arose, as among other orders, and resulted in the formation of semi-independent congregations owing a titular obedience to the general of the order. The Carmelite friars seem to have flourished especially in England, where at the dissolution of the monasteries there were some 40 friaries. (See F. A. Gasquet, English Monastic Life, table and maps; Catholic Dictionary, art. “Carmelites.”) There were no Carmelite nunneries in England, and indeed until the middle of the 15th century there were no nuns at all anywhere in the order.

Of all movements in the Carmelite order by far the most important and far-reaching in its results has been the reform initiated by St Teresa. After nearly thirty years passed in a Carmelite convent in Avila under the mitigated rule of 1431, she founded in the same city a small convent wherein a rule stricter than that of 1247 was to be observed. This was in 1562. In spite of opposition and difficulties of all kinds, she succeeded in establishing a number, not only of nunneries, but (with the co-operation of St John of the Cross, q.v.) also of friaries of the strict observance; so that at her death in 1582 there were of the reform 15 monasteries of men and 17 of women, all in Spain. The interesting and dramatic story of the movement should be sought for in the biographies of the two protagonists; as also