Monastic Wales.

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also known as: Order of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel; White Friars

The origins of the order are rather obscure but the Carmelites first apppeared on Mount Carmel, in the Holy Land, as a group of hermits living a loosely regulated life. By the mid-thirteenth century they had established themselves in the Latin West as an order of itinerant mendicant friars. In 1298 the pope formally confirmed the Carmelites' right to survive as an order.
No founding figure is associated with the Carmelites but they looked and continue to look to the Virgin Mary and Elijah for inspiration.

The Carmelites initially wore a striped mantle over a tunic, scapular and grey hood, but in 1284 replaced the stripemantle with a white one. They followed the Rule of St Albert (Vita formula) given to then by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and Papal Legate, St Albert of Jerusalem. This first rule was approved by the pope in 1226 but no longer survives. It comprised sixteen articles and required that the friars showed obedience to their prior, observed individual poverty and followed a vegetarian diet. They were to live in individual cells, hear Mass each morning in their oratory and attend a weekly chapter meeting. Their time was spent in contemplation, work and prayer, and they observed silence from Vespers until Terce the following morning.

The order requested the Curia to revise its rule in 1247 and the resulting Que honorem, probably compiled by the Dominicans, significantly changed the nature of the Carmelite way of life. It placed an emphasis on pastoral work and a series of rights was duly accorded to the friars to enable them to fulfil their new role. For example, in 1253 the Carmelites were permitted to preach and hear confessions, and in 1261 to admit the laity to their churches. By the 1320s the Carmelites had acquired the same rights and privileges as the Franciscans and Dominicans and had evolved from hermits to mendicants who inhabited an urban environment.(1)

(1) F. Andrews, The Other Friars (Woodbridge, 2006);].
Read a translation of the Rule of St Albert.

Sites associated with this order

Denbigh Friary, Denbighshire

Bibliographical sources

13 Printed sources

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4 On-line sources

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Carmelites sites

1 Denbigh Denbighshire (Friary)