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graciandelamadrededios

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graciandelamadrededios

Here is a beautiful custom to share. I read this today from the book, "Following the Path of Divine Love." (Spanish Carmelite customs; I don't know if they is done in other Carmels with Mexican or French customs.)

 

"When a nun is dying, it is the custom in Carmel to remove everything from her cell except an image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This will remind the ill Sister that the Mother of God is there to help and protect her and to fulfill the saying of the ancient monks: "from the cell to heaven!" - an expression of the firm hope that fills her soul at the end of life."

 

The following are excerpts from the same Chapter; a continuation of what was posted above:

 

“It doesn’t take much work to empty the cell of a Carmelite.  There are so few things in it!  The furnishings include a wooden board on which a straw mattress rests and a large wooden cross without the figure of Christ – a “dry” cross, as Saint John of the Cross would say.  The cross reminds the Carmeltie that she must crucify herself in imitation of ther Divine Spouse.” Page 405

 

“In the Prioress’ cell there is no cross, but only a small table.  This custom may derive from the fact that the Mother Prioress has enough crosses with her office.” Page 406

 

From the book: Following the Path of Divine Love: Saint Maravillas, O.C.D., Daughter of the Church and of Saint Teresa of Jesus by the Discalced Carmelites of Cerro de los Angeles and La Aldehuela, Spain.  Translated to English by the Carmelite Nuns of Bufallo, New York, 2011.

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graciandelamadrededios

The following are excerpts from the same Chapter; a continuation of what was posted above:

 

“It doesn’t take much work to empty the cell of a Carmelite.  There are so few things in it!  The furnishings include a wooden board on which a straw mattress rests and a large wooden cross without the figure of Christ – a “dry” cross, as Saint John of the Cross would say.  The cross reminds the Carmeltie that she must crucify herself in imitation of ther Divine Spouse.” Page 405

 

“In the Prioress’ cell there is no cross, but only a small table.  This custom may derive from the fact that the Mother Prioress has enough crosses with her office.” Page 406

 

From the book: Following the Path of Divine Love: Saint Maravillas, O.C.D., Daughter of the Church and of Saint Teresa of Jesus by the Discalced Carmelites of Cerro de los Angeles and La Aldehuela, Spain.  Translated to English by the Carmelite Nuns of Bufallo, New York, 2011.

 

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A Carmelite Custom - Simple Wooden Cross without the Corpus found on each Cell of a Nun

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Welcome back, Chiqui!

 

I am very happy to see you here again!  Please send me an email about which Carmelite Monastery you visited.  I sent my own inquiry to the Discalced Carmelite Provincials in Italy and to some Italian Discalced Carmelite Nuns and both, essentially, have the same reply – they have no idea where the custom of wearing wooden crosses pinned outside the scapulars of the Nuns came from or its explanation.

 

I sent inquiries to Carmels of French and Spanish origins and they told me that this is the first time they heard and see (I sent attached photos of Italian and Czech OCD Nuns) wooden crosses pinned outside the scapulars and they added that they always have crucifix underneath the scapular.  They further explained that while it is customary the wear crucifix under the scapular, wearing one outside of the scapular was not customary among the Nuns.

 

Well, we have come to a dead end, yet again.  We will never know the official explanation of this custom since even the the Italian and Czech Discalced Carmelites themselves (those who worn wooden crosses on top of the scapular) does not really know where it began.  I sent several inquiries via emal to Genoa or Genova Carmel but I have not heard from them.  It seems that it all started in Genova Carmel and from there, carried over to their daughter foundations across Europe.

 

There are a lot of speculations (and may remain as just like that) at this point such as:

 

1. A custom of the Nuns when the monastery was established and adapted by the Nuns of the Mantuan Reform when they took over the monastery.  For example, a group of Nuns who followed a different Rule and decided to embrace the Carmelite Rule.

 

2. To distinguish the Discalced Nuns from the Calced Nuns (who have numerous monasteries of nuns prior to the arrival of the nuns of St. Teresa) in Italy

 

3. A custom of Carmelite Nuns (of Mantuan Reform or of Ancient Observance, or of Stricter Observance) that was adapted by the Discalced Nuns when they took over the monastery.

 

4. It is customary for missionaries to be presented with a missionary crucifix when they embark on a mission and this could be what the Nuns of the Reform did when they were sent to establish a monastery of the Order in Italy.

 

I have been reading a lot about Carmel lately and in particular the history of the Order as written by Joaquim Smet, O. Carm.  There are a lot of reforms prior to St. Teresa’s across Europe!  Even the Italians introduced several reforms and chief among them is the celebrated Mantuan Reform which established several Carmels for women in Italy.

 

The following were monasteries of Nuns under the Mantuan Congregation:

 

1. Bergamo

2. Bologna “Convertite”

3. Ronciglione

4. Parma

5. Reggio

6. Emilia

7. Brescia

8. Ferrera (San Gabriele)

9. Mantua

10. Trino

11. Florence

12. Sutri

13. Vinovo

14. Alhino

15. Ferrera “Convertite”

16. Ferrara (Santa Lucia)

 

Converitite are a group of “reformed women” who converted and adapted the Carmelite Rule and further embraced the Mantuan Reform. 

 

The Mantuan Reform also took over other monasteries following another Rule and introduced the Carmelite Rule and the Constitutions of the Mantuan Reform.

 

It is very evident that within the Order of Carmel, there are friars and/or nuns who wanted to lead the life of “Stricter Observance.”  Many were grouped into Congregation and for some reason, died a natural death or have been incorporated back to the Ancient Observance.  The only reform that has successfully branched out from the Ancient Observance is the Reform of St. Teresa – Discalced Carmelite Order.

 

Thank you asking the Discalced Carmelite Nuns in Italy about the origin of the wooden cross pinned over the scapular.  Though we will never know the exact explanation, this custom is quite unique among Discalced Carmelite Nuns and we are able to pique the interest of the Nuns themselves about its origin.

 

Praised be Jesus Christ! Hello Gracian! Sorry I never sent you an email or got around to replying here until now. The Discalced Carmelite Nuns I visited were in Florence, where the incorrupt body of St. Teresa Margaret Redi is. I think that perhaps your query to the nuns in Genoa and the Friars did pique their interest, as when I asked them, they said they had recently been really been researching this and did not find a definitive answer. Perhaps some day it will be discovered :detective:

 

I visited the O.Carm. monastery of nuns there too, where the incorrupt body of St. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi is. Very interesting to hear that they were part of the Mantuan reform. They are now in Careggi, a bit outside the city (though still technically part of Florence) and they have two former locations in Florence also. The first, where St. Mary Magdalene was, is now the Archdiocesan seminary. It's right on the Arno river outside of the busier part of the city. I found on the back outside wall a plaque which marked the spot where her cell was, where she died. I did not get to go inside though, as it is private. Then the second former monastery is in town on the other side of the river (though not in such a busy part) which is the one which St. Therese visited. There's a plaque outside commemorating that too. There is much beautiful artwork from her life (St. MM de Pazzi) in the chapel there! When I get my pictures organized, I will share some. 

 

I have a quick question, which maybe you can answer from all of your research. Here it says that this monastery of St. Mary of the Angels in Florence was the first monastery of Carmelite nuns in the Order, http://carmelitasdescalzas1990.blogspot.com/2008/12/el-carmelo-femenino.html  Do you, or anyone else like AnneLine, know anything more about this? I thought it was in France where Blessed John Soreth was. I researched it a little online and if I weren't so lazy, I go look in books, but since you've read so much, I thought I'd ask here really quick. :like:

 

God bless!

 

p.s. right near the original Monastery of St. Mary of the Angels (now the seminary) is Santa Maria del Carmine, where the O.Carm. Friars still are, where St. Andrew Corosini's tomb is, which I visited also. It's famous especially for the Brancacci Chapel. So there are three Carmelite saints to visit to Florence! :saint:

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graciandelamadrededios

Praised be Jesus Christ! Hello Gracian! Sorry I never sent you an email or got around to replying here until now. The Discalced Carmelite Nuns I visited were in Florence, where the incorrupt body of St. Teresa Margaret Redi is. I think that perhaps your query to the nuns in Genoa and the Friars did pique their interest, as when I asked them, they said they had recently been really been researching this and did not find a definitive answer. Perhaps some day it will be discovered :detective:

 

I visited the O.Carm. monastery of nuns there too, where the incorrupt body of St. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi is. Very interesting to hear that they were part of the Mantuan reform. They are now in Careggi, a bit outside the city (though still technically part of Florence) and they have two former locations in Florence also. The first, where St. Mary Magdalene was, is now the Archdiocesan seminary. It's right on the Arno river outside of the busier part of the city. I found on the back outside wall a plaque which marked the spot where her cell was, where she died. I did not get to go inside though, as it is private. Then the second former monastery is in town on the other side of the river (though not in such a busy part) which is the one which St. Therese visited. There's a plaque outside commemorating that too. There is much beautiful artwork from her life (St. MM de Pazzi) in the chapel there! When I get my pictures organized, I will share some. 

 

I have a quick question, which maybe you can answer from all of your research. Here it says that this monastery of St. Mary of the Angels in Florence was the first monastery of Carmelite nuns in the Order, http://carmelitasdescalzas1990.blogspot.com/2008/12/el-carmelo-femenino.html  Do you, or anyone else like AnneLine, know anything more about this? I thought it was in France where Blessed John Soreth was. I researched it a little online and if I weren't so lazy, I go look in books, but since you've read so much, I thought I'd ask here really quick. :like:

 

God bless!

 

p.s. right near the original Monastery of St. Mary of the Angels (now the seminary) is Santa Maria del Carmine, where the O.Carm. Friars still are, where St. Andrew Corosini's tomb is, which I visited also. It's famous especially for the Brancacci Chapel. So there are three Carmelite saints to visit to Florence! :saint:

 

The bull “Cum Nulla” issued by Pope Nicholas V in 1452, bestowed authorization for women to be accepted into the Carmelie Order.

 

St. Mary of the Angels Monastery in Florence was founded in 1454, but only later accepted cloister and the obligation of the choral office.  So, technically, this monastery was the first “formal” monastery of women in the Order.  

 

But prior to issuing said bull, there were already women associated with the Carmelite Order in varying degrees.  The “conversae” professed the three vows taken by the friars and submitted to the superiors of the Order.  One authority, Fr. Claudio Catenza, holds that the vows are solemn, and the “conversae” were nuns in the modern sense of the word.  Other women took only one or other of the vows or simple vows and sometimes formed communities without cloister.  They were variously called “mantellates”, “pinzocchere” (Italy), and “beatas” (Spain). 

 

Bl. Joan of Toulouse, an anchoress attached to the Carmelite church there early in the 15th century, may probably be classed as a “conversa.”

 

Answers taken from “The Mirror of Carmel” by Joachim Smet, O. Carm.

 

 

 

I sent the following to Anneline which contain my explanation to the bull “Cum Nulla”:

 

Hi Anneline!

 

It is indeed, very interesting and I really wish someone can provide us with concrete answers but it seems that the Discalced Carmelite Nuns themselves have no idea where the custom came from.

 

Franciscan has a lot of mini-reforms or observances because the Friars cannot agree on a single, unified interpretation of the charism of St. Francis – the Poverty of Christ.  Essentially, they can’t agree on the specific points of poverty – absolute poverty or ownership in common and this has given several Franciscan observances that exist after the death of St. Francis until today.  St. Francis, according to some, never really wanted to found an order and he was not a great organizer unlike St. Dominic, his contemporary.  The Dominican Order under St. Dominic was able to form a single, united government unlike the Franciscans.  It was said the St. Dominic was a great administrator.

 

The Carmelites have a different story and this started with the migitations, upon mitigations of their Rule which eventually lead to laxity and decline; common among religious orders during that period.  Suffice it to say that the Rule has been layered with various mitigations granted by the Popes.

 

As for Carmelite Nuns, it seems a great way to start with the Bull “Cum Nulla” issued by Pope Nicholas V which was the formal institution of the Nuns into the Order.  Prior to this bull a lot of women were asking to be incorporated into the Order and the General John Soreth finally petitioned Rome for approval hence, the bull “Cum Nulla” was issued and has formally accepted “Nuns” into the Order.  But the bull had a loophole – see the underlined texts:

 

The papal bull Cum Nulla.

 

Nicholas, Bishop, Servant of the Servants of God. For perpetual memory.

 

No one can organize, without the permission of the Supreme Pontiff, any group of faithful, under whatever form of religion. Any group of female religious, virgins, widows, "beguines," "mantellati" or other similar groups, which exist under the title and protection of the Order of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, or who in the future offer to commit themselves, may not continue without the approval of the apostolic authority. By means of these letters, we decree that with regard to the reception, mode of life, admission and protection of the aforementioned, we decree that the Order and the Master General and the Priors Provincial enjoy and may use the same identical privileges given to the Order of Preachers and to the Hermits of St. Augustine. With these privileges the aforementioned virgins, widows, "beatas" and "mantellati" live in chastity and honesty, keeping fast and fulfilling all other duties, as they already do, according to the statutes of the virgins, "beguines", and "mantellati" of the other Orders, who also live in chastity and honesty. Let no one dare to interfere and contravene our decree. However, if someone presumes to contravene it, let that person know that he will incur the wrath of God and of his holy apostles, Peter and Paul.

 

Given in Rome, in St. Peter’s, in the year 1452 of the Incarnation of Our Lord, the 7th day of October, in the sixth year of our pontificate

 

Those underlined texts did not really explain if the Nuns are to adapt cloister and regular life; many interpreted the bull as permission to continue the general spirit of Beguine lifestyle – no strict enclosure and fixed prayer schedule.  So the Nuns continued with their former lifestyle while following the Carmelite Rule.  Further, this gave the Nuns equal footing with the Dominicans and Augustinians of the Second Order where each monastery is autonomous.

 

Soreth, armed with this document, immediately elevated some communities into the Second Order and for the next 25 years, Europe had seen rapid growth of convents in France and in Lowlands.  He asked some of the communities to follow the Constitutions of the Friars and later, he himself wrote the constitutions with strict enclosure with emphasis on prayer, solitude, silence, and penance.  But this did not make any impact with the Italian and Spanish convents, who continue to live the lifestyle of a Mantellate or a Beata.

 

Bl. Frances d'Amboise indeed tried with the Franciscan community in Nantes but due to her frequent illness, she found that the lifestyle of the “Poor Clare” too austere.  Then, she met with Soreth and he explained the new Second Order to her and she found it appealing. She endowed a convent and she herself entered there and received the habit from hands of John Soreth.

 

Due to diverse interpretation of the Bull and the autonomy granted by each monastery, there was no uniformity of observances. Those who were under the influence of John Soreth followed the ideal Carmelite life – they were cloistered and followed the Rule.  The Italian and Spanish Carmel has different story – they continued the lifestyle of Mantellate and Beata where they are free to leave the convent and maintains contact with people in the city.  Many of these convents in Italy are essentially Carmelite in name but Mantellate in practice except those who came into contact with the Mantuan Reform.  They may have not observed the strict enclosure but they are closer to the ideal of Soreth.

 

The monastery where St. Teresa entered was a Beaterio dedicated to St. Mary of the Incarnation founded by Dona Elvira Gonzales.  The community eventually petitioned the Provincial that Incarnation be admitted into the Second Order.  The “Beatas” adopted a form of life which contains the features of a convent but retaining the principal features of a Beaterio.  They have noviate and recitation of the Divine Office in common but the Beatas can easily ask permission to leave the convent.  Class distinction was evident – the rich ladies being waited upon by a servant and lived in a suite of rooms.  Their poorer sisters lived in dormitories and most of the time, has to go home or go out to find food for them.  This was the state of the convent when Teresa entered and they have close to 200 Nuns living inside!

 

The rest is history where we can refer to the Constitutions of St. Teresa, limiting the number of Nuns in each house to 21, no common work room, rough brown frieze (horse blanket) for the habit and course linen for the toque, no extra pleats on the articles of the habit, alpargates for the footwear and wearing of Grate Veils, etc.

 

The reform of St. Teresa was her “reaction” to the lifestyle she experienced in the Incarnation.

 

Well, eventually, the O.Carms. adopted the reforms initiated by St. Teresa and the Incarnation Convent petitioned to be transferred to authority of the Discalced Carmelite Order.

 

St. Teresa did not really envision reforming an Order but she has no choice when the Calced became aggressive towards the Discalced.  St. Maravillas did not see herself as a “reformer” but she wanted to be a faithful daughter of St. Teresa of Jesus and to the constitutions she wrote for her Nuns.

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"I have a quick question, which maybe you can answer from all of your research. Here it says that this monastery of St. Mary of the Angels in Florence was the first monastery of Carmelite nuns in the Order,"

 

 

I actually just read this in the book about Mother Therese of Jesus of the Allentown Carmel.  I'll have to go back and look it up later and then I'll quote it.
 

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graciandelamadrededios

This photo bears one of the most beautiful traditions in Carmel (if I am not mistaken, only Carmel does this).  The postulant kneels and kisses the cross that the Mother Prioress is holding.  Mother Prioress then says in Latin "Passio Christi conforta me."

 

sprecowo15.jpg

 

I saw similar photos taken from Manila and Lipa Carmels

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graciandelamadrededios

In the book "My Beloved: The Story of a Carmelite Nun" by Mother Catherine Tomas of Divine Providence, D.C., the foundress and Mother Prioress of Oklahoma and New York Carmel signs her letters with: Teresa of Jesus, dcu (discalced carmelite unworthy)

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