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(kär`məlīts), Roman Catholic order of mendicant friars. Originally a group of hermits, apparently European, living on Mt. Carmel in Palestine, their supervision was undertaken (c.1150) by St. Berthold. In 1238 they moved to Cyprus, and thence to Western Europe. St. Simon Stock (d. 1265), an Englishman, was their second founder. He transformed them into an order of friars resembling Dominicans and Franciscans and founded monasteries at Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, and Bologna. They rapidly became prominent in university life. An enclosed order of Carmelite nuns was established. The Carmelites, like other orders, declined in the 15th cent. They were revived by St. TheresaTheresa or Teresa, Saint
(Theresa of Ávila) , 1515–82, Spanish Carmelite nun, Doctor of the Church, one of the principal saints of the Roman Catholic Church, one of the greatest mystics, and a leading
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 (of Ávila) and St. John of the CrossJohn of the Cross, Saint,
Span. Juan de la Cruz, 1542–91, Spanish mystic and poet, Doctor of the Church. His name was originally Juan de Yepes. He was a founder of the Discalced Carmelites and a close friend of St.
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 in 16th-century Spain. These great contemplatives gave the order a special orientation toward mysticism. Their reformed branch is the Discalced (or Barefoot) Carmelites; it is now more numerous than the Carmelites of the Old Observance. The Discalced Carmelites cultivate the contemplative life in all aspects, and they have produced many works on mystical theology. St. TheresaTheresa or Thérèse, Saint
(Theresa of Lisieux), 1873–97, French Carmelite nun, one of the most widely loved saints of the Roman Catholic Church, b. Alençon.
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 (of Lisieux) is a well-known Discalced Carmelite of the 19th cent. In 1790 the first community came to the United States and settled near Port Tobacco, Md. There are presently about 6,900 priests and brothers living in Carmelite communities, with 500 living in the United States.


See E. A. Peers, Spirit of Flame (1944, repr. 1961); P. Rohrback, Journey to the Carith (1966).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



members of a Catholic mendicant monastic order, founded in the second half of the 12th century in Palestine by the Italian crusader Berthold.

The Carmelites’ first monastic community was located on Mount Carmel (hence the name). Their rule was approved byPope Honorius III in 1226. After the failure of the Crusades, theCarmelites moved to Western Europe (13th century), whereunder Pope Innocent IV they were turned into a mendicantorder in 1245 or 1247. In the 16th century the order was againreformed, after which it split into two branches (the Carmelitesand the Discalced, or Barefoot, Carmelites). In 1972 the ordernumbered about 8, 000 monks; the women’s order of Carmelites(established in the 15th century) numbered more than 12, 000nuns.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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