Discalced Carmelites

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Order of the Discalced Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel
Ordo Fratrum Carmelitarum Discalceatorum Beatae Mariae Virginis de Monte Carmelo
Formation1562; 461 years ago (1562)
FounderTeresa of Ávila
John of the Cross
TypeMendicant Order of Pontifical Right (for Men)
Legal statusInstitute of Consecrated Life
HeadquartersCasa Generalizia dei Carmelitani Scalzi, Corso d’Italia 38, 00198 Rome, Italy
Membership (2022)
3,978 members (includes 2,897 priests)[1]
Superior General
Miguel Márquez
AffiliationsCatholic Church

The Discalced Carmelites, known officially as the Order of the Discalced Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (Latin: Ordo Fratrum Carmelitarum Discalceatorum Beatae Mariae Virginis de Monte Carmelo) or the Order of Discalced Carmelites (Latin: Ordo Carmelitarum Discalceatorum; abbrev.: OCD; sometimes called in earlier times, Latin: Ordo Carmelitarum Excalceatorum), is a Catholic mendicant order with roots in the eremitic tradition of the Desert Fathers. The order was established in the 16th century, pursuant to the reform of the Carmelite Order by two Spanish saints, Teresa of Ávila (foundress) and John of the Cross (co-founder). Discalced is derived from Latin, meaning "without shoes".

The Carmelite Order, from which the Discalced Carmelites branched off, is also referred to as the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance to distinguish them from their discalced offshoot. The third order affiliated to the Discalced Carmelites is the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites.


The Discalced Carmelites are friars and nuns who dedicate themselves to a life of prayer. The Carmelite nuns live in cloistered (enclosed) monasteries and follow a completely contemplative life. The Carmelite friars, while following a contemplative life, also engage in the promotion of spirituality through their retreat centres, parishes and churches. Lay people, known as the Secular Order, follow their contemplative call in their everyday activities. Devotion to the Virgin Mary is a characteristic of Carmelites and is symbolised by wearing the brown scapular.[2]

Carmelites trace their roots and their name to Mount Carmel in the Holy Land. There, in the 13th century, a band of European men gathered together to live a simple life of prayer. Their first chapel was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and they called themselves the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel.[3]

The Muhraka monastery on the top of Mount Carmel near Haifa in Israel is a historic Carmelite monastery. The monastery stands on the place where the prophet Elijah is said to have lived and fought the prophets of Baal.[4]

The first Carmelites were pilgrims to Mount Carmel who settled there in solitude. These early hermits were mostly laity, who lived a life of poverty, penance and prayer. Between 1206 and 1214, Albert Avogadro, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, brought the hermits on Mount Carmel together into community. At their request he wrote them a rule, which expressed their own intention and reflected the spirit of the pilgrimage to the Holy Land and of the early community of Jerusalem. They were also inspired by the prophet Elijah, who had been associated with Mount Carmel. The words of Elijah, "With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts" (IKg 19:10) appear on the Carmelite crest. Around 1238, within fifty years of receiving their rule, the Carmelite hermits were forced by the Saracens to leave Mount Carmel and to settle in Europe.[5]


Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582), Doctor of the Church and co-founder of the Discalced Carmelites

A combination of political and social conditions that prevailed in Europe in the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries – the Hundred Years' War, Black Plague, the Reformation and the Humanist revival – adversely affected the Order. Many Carmelites and even whole communities succumbed to contemporary attitudes and conditions diametrically opposed to their original vocation. To meet this situation the rule was "mitigated" several times. Consequently, the Carmelites bore less and less resemblance to the first hermits of Mount Carmel.[6]

Teresa of Avila considered the surest way to prayer to be a return to Carmel's authentic vocation. A group of nuns assembled in her cell one September evening in 1560, taking their inspiration from the primitive tradition of Carmel and the discalced reform of Peter of Alcantara, a controversial movement within Spanish Franciscanism, proposed to found a monastery of an eremitical kind.

With few resources and often bitter opposition, Teresa succeeded in 1562 in establishing a small monastery with the austerity of desert solitude within the heart of the city of Ávila, Spain, combining eremitical and community life. On 24 August 1562, the new Convent of St. Joseph was founded. Teresa's rule, which retained a distinctively Marian character, contained exacting prescriptions for a life of continual prayer, safeguarded by strict enclosure and sustained by the asceticism of solitude, manual labor, perpetual abstinence, fasting, and fraternal charity. In addition to this, Teresa envisioned an order fully dedicated to poverty.[6]

Working in close collaboration with Teresa was John of the Cross, who with Anthony of Jesus founded the first convent of Discalced Carmelite friars in Duruelo, Spain on 28 November 1568.[7]

The Discalced Carmelites were established as a separate province of the Carmelite Order by the decree Pia consideratione[8] of Pope Gregory XIII on 22 June 1580. By this decree the Discalced Carmelites were still subject to the Prior General of the Carmelite Order in Rome, but were otherwise distinct from the Carmelites in that they could elect their own superiors and author their own constitutions for their common life. The following Discalced Carmelite Chapter at Alcala de Henares, Spain in March 1581 established the constitutions of the Discalced Carmelites and elected the first provincial of the Discalced Carmelites, Jerome Gratian. This office was later translated into that of Superior General of the Discalced Carmelites.[9]

The Carmelite charism[edit]

Discalced Carmelites from Argentina
Discalced Carmelite and novice outside their convent in Zarautz, the Basque Country
Monastery of Discalced Carmelites in Czerna, Poland
Stella Maris Monastery in Mount Carmel, Haifa

The heart of the Carmelite charism is prayer and contemplation. The quality of prayer determines the quality of the community life and the quality of the service which is offered to others. Prayer and contemplation for the Carmelite are not private matters between the individual and God but are to be shared with others since the charism is given for the whole world. Therefore, there is an emphasis in the order on the ministry of teaching prayer and giving spiritual direction.[10]

For a Carmelite, prayer is guided by the teachings and experience of Teresa of Ávila and John of the Cross, as well as the saints who have followed in their steps, such as Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, Elizabeth of the Trinity, Teresa of Jesus of Los Andes , and martyrs such as Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Père Jacques and the sixteen Martyrs of Compiegne. Fraternity, service, and contemplation are essential values for all Carmelites.

When the Carmelites were forced to leave Mount Carmel, they changed their practice from being hermits to friars. The major difference is that friars are called to serve the People of God in some active apostolate. Some congregations were founded for a specific work, but the Carmelite Order tries to respond to what it sees as the needs of the church and the world - which differ according to time and place. Many friars work in such institutions as parishes, schools, universities, retreat centres, prisons and hospitals. Each individual friar will serve in roles depending on the perceived needs of the people with whom he lives and his own particular talents.[10]

Each day is marked by silence for prayer. In addition to the daily celebration of the full Liturgy of the Hours, two hours (one in the morning, one in the evening) are set aside for silent prayer. Communities should not have more than 21 members. The friars practice a broadly-based discipline of study.


Living bishops (4 archbishops, 18 bishops)[edit]

Current bishops Former and actual episcopal see or assignment Current residency Date of birth
(current age)
Appointed to episcopacy
Anders Arborelius Sweden Bishop of Stockholm

Sweden Denmark Finland Iceland Norway President of Scandinavian Bishops Conference (2005–2015)
Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria degli Angeli

Sweden Stockholm, Sweden (1949-09-24) September 24, 1949 (age 74) November 17, 1998
Pope John Paul II
Cástor Oswaldo Azuaje Pérez Venezuela Bishop of Trujillo

Venezuela Auxiliary Bishop of Maracaibo

Venezuela Trujillo, Venezuela (1951-10-19) October 19, 1951 (age 71) June 30, 2007
Pope Benedict XVI
Silvio José Báez Ortega Nicaragua Auxiliary Bishop of Managua
Nicaragua Managua, Nicaragua (1958-04-28) April 28, 1958 (age 65) April 9, 2009
Pope Benedict XVI
Philip Boyce Republic of Ireland Bishop of Raphoe
Republic of Ireland Letterkenny, Ireland (1940-01-25) January 25, 1940 (age 83) June 29, 1995
Pope John Paul II
Peter Chung Soon-taick South Korea North Korea Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul
South Korea Seoul, South Korea (1961-08-02) August 2, 1961 (age 62) December 30, 2013
Pope Francis
Paul Dahdah Lebanon Archbishop-Vicar Apostolic of Beirut

Iraq Archbishop of Baghdad

Lebanon Beirut, Lebanon (1941-06-08) June 8, 1941 (age 82) May 30, 1983
Pope John Paul II
Brig. Gen. Gonzalo de Jesús María del Castillo Crespo Bolivia Military Bishop Emeritus of Bolivia

Bolivia Military Bishop of Bolivia

Bolivia Auxiliary Bishop of La Paz

Bolivia La Paz, Bolivia (1936-09-20) September 20, 1936 (age 87) November 3, 1983
Pope John Paul II
Amancio Escapa Aparicio Dominican Republic Auxiliary Bishop of Santo Domingo
Dominican Republic Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (1938-03-30) March 30, 1938 (age 85) May 31, 1996
Pope John Paul II
Guy Étienne Germain Gaucher France Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Bayeux-Lisieux

France Auxiliary Bishop of Bayeux-Lisieux
France Bishop of Meaux

France Venasque, France (1930-03-05) March 5, 1930 (age 93) August 27, 1986
Pope John Paul II
Gustavo Girón Higuita Colombia Bishop of Tumaco

Colombia Vicar Apostolic of Tumaco

Colombia Tumaco, Colombia (1940-05-20) May 20, 1940 (age 83) February 8, 1990
Pope John Paul II
Greg Homeming Australia Bishop of Lismore
Australia Australia (1958-05-30) May 30, 1958 (age 65) February 22, 2017
Pope Francis
Zdenko Križić Croatia Bishop of Roman Catholic Diocese of Gospić-Senj
Croatia Croatia (1953-02-02) February 2, 1953 (age 70) May 25, 2016
Pope Francis
Gonzalo López Marañon Ecuador Vicar Apostolic Emeritus of San Miguel de Sucumbíos

Ecuador Vicar Apostolic of San Miguel de Sucumbíos

Ecuador Apostolic prefect of San Miguel de Sucumbíos

Ecuador Nueva Loja, Ecuador (1933-10-03) October 3, 1933 (age 90) July 2, 1984
Pope John Paul II
Luis Alberto Luna Tobar Ecuador Archbishop Emeritus of Cuenca

Ecuador Metropolitan Archbishop of Cuenca
Ecuador Auxiliary Bishop of Quito

Ecuador Cuenca, Ecuador (1923-12-15) December 15, 1923 (age 99) August 17, 1977
Pope Paul VI
Aníbal Nieto Guerra Ecuador Bishop of San Jacinto de Yaguachi

Ecuador Auxiliary Bishop of Guayaquil

Ecuador Yaguachi, Ecuador (1949-02-23) February 23, 1949 (age 74) June 10, 2006
Pope Benedict XVI
Marie Fabien Raharilamboniaina Madagascar Bishop of Morondava
Madagascar Morondava, Madagascar (1968-01-20) January 20, 1968 (age 55) February 26, 2010
Pope Benedict XVI
Braulio Sáez Garcia Bolivia Auxiliary Bishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra

Bolivia Bishop of Oruro
Bolivia Auxiliary Bishop of Oruro

Bolivia Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia (1942-03-23) March 23, 1942 (age 81) February 18, 1987
Pope John Paul II
Rubens Sevilha Brazil Auxiliary Bishop of Vitória
Brazil Vitória, Brazil (1959-09-29) September 29, 1959 (age 64) December 21, 1987
Pope Benedict XVI
Jean Benjamin Sleiman Iraq Archbishop of Baghdad
Iraq Baghdad, Iraq (1946-06-30) June 30, 1946 (age 77) November 29, 2000
Pope John Paul II
Jusztin Nándor Takács Hungary Bishop Emeritus of Székesfehérvár

Hungary Bishop of Székesfehérvár
Hungary Coadjutor Bishop of Székesfehérvár
Hungary Auxiliary Bishop of Székesfehérvár

Hungary Székesfehérvár, Hungary (1927-01-15) January 15, 1927 (age 96) December 23, 1988
Pope John Paul II
Rolando Joven Tria Tirona Philippines Metropolitan Archbishop of Caceres

Philippines Territorial Prelate of Infanta

Philippines Bishop of Malolos
Philippines Auxiliary Bishop of Manila

Philippines Naga, Philippines (1946-07-22) July 22, 1946 (age 77) November 15, 1994
Pope John Paul II

Deceased Bishops (7 cardinals, 14 archbishops, 52 bishops)[edit]

Name Episcopal see or assignment Date of birth and death Appointed to bishopric
Francis George Adeodatus Micallef Kuwait Vicar Apostolic Emeritus of Kuwait

Kuwait Vicar Apostolic of Kuwait

(1928-12-17) December 17, 1928 (age 94) – January 3, 2018(2018-01-03) (aged 89) November 5, 1981
Pope John Paul II
Anastasio Alberto Ballestrero Italy Metropolitan Archbishop Emeritus of Turin

Italy Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria sopra Minerva
Italy Vatican City San Marino President of Italian Episcopal Conference
Italy Metropolitan Archbishop of Turin
Italy Metropolitan Archbishop of Bari-Canosa

(1913-10-03)October 3, 1913 – June 21, 1998(1998-06-21) (aged 84) December 21, 1973
Pope Paul VI
Girolamo Maria Gotti Vatican City Prefect of Sacred Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith

Italy Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria della Scala pro hac vice Title
Vatican City Prefect of Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars
Vatican City Prefect of Sacred Congregation of Indulgences and Sacred Relics
Vatican City Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals
Brazil Apostolic Internuncio of Brazil

(1834-03-29)March 29, 1834 – March 19, 1916(1916-03-19) (aged 81) March 22, 1892
Pope Leo XIII
Giovanni Antonio Guadagni
(Nephew of pope Pope Clement XII)
Italy Vicar General of His Holiness for the Diocese of Rome

Vatican City Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals
Vatican City Cardinal Vice-Dean of Sacred College of Cardinals
Italy Cardinal-Bishop of Porto-Santa Rufina
Italy Cardinal-Bishop of Frascati
Italy Cardinal-Priest of San Martino ai Monti
Italy Bishop of Arezzo

(1674-09-14)September 14, 1674 – January 15, 1759(1759-01-15) (aged 84) December 20, 1724
Pope Benedict XIII
Daniel Acharuparambil India Metropolitan Archbishop of Verapoly

India Apostolic Administrator sede plena of Cochin

(1939-05-12)May 12, 1939 – October 26, 2009(2009-10-26) (aged 70) June 14, 1996
Pope John Paul II
Antônio do Carmo Cheuiche Brazil Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Porto Alegre

Brazil Auxiliary Bishop of Porto Alegre
Brazil Auxiliary Bishop of Santa Maria

(1927-06-13)June 13, 1927 – October 14, 2009(2009-10-14) (aged 82) April 2, 1969
Pope Paul VI
Paul Bassim Lebanon Vicar Apostolic Emeritus of Beirut

Lebanon Vicar Apostolic of Beirut

(1922-11-14)November 14, 1922 – August 21, 2012(2012-08-21) (aged 89) September 8, 1974
Pope Paul VI

Communities of Discalced Carmelite tradition[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ {cite book |author= |date=2022 |title=Annuario Pontificio per l'Anno 2022 |url= |location=Citta del Vaticano |publisher=Libreria Editrice Vaticana |page=1388 |isbn=}}
  2. ^ "Who are the Discalced Carmelites?". Discalcedcarmelites.ie. Archived from the original on 1 September 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
  3. ^ "History", Discalced Carmelite Friars of the Carmelite-Arizona Province
  4. ^ "40 Major Holy Sites in Israel: Jerusalem Holy Sites & Beyond". 10 November 2018. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  5. ^ "Hermits on Mount Carmel". Carmelite.com. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
  6. ^ a b ocd. "Carmelite History -from the OCD General House in Rome". Ocd.pcn.net. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
  7. ^ "History of Discalced Carmelites", Generalate of the Teresian Carmel
  8. ^ Otilio Rodriguez, OCD, Appendix I: "The Third Order of the Teresian Carmel; Its Origin and History", page 129, in Michael D. Griffin, OCD, Commentary on the Rule of Life (superseded) (The Growth in Carmel Series; Hubertus, Wisconsin: Teresian Charism Press, 1981), pages 127-36
  9. ^ Peter-Thomas Rohrbach, OCD Journey to Carith: The Sources and Story of the Discalced Carmelites, Chapter 6: "The Struggle for Existence", pages 200-1 (Washington, DC: ICS Publications)
  10. ^ a b The Carmelite Charism -from the Irish Province Archived July 30, 2012, at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]