Welcome to the Sacred Space of Carmel - The Carmelite Nuns of Baltimore Welcome to the Sacred Space of Carmel Seized by the unconditional love of Jesus, the Christ, and allured to the mountaintop, we embrace the mystical flame of contemplation as our life’s grounding.
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Events for November 2020 - The Carmelite Nuns of Baltimore
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The Beauty of the Incarnation – Vigil for St. John of the Cross December 13th at 7 pm ET – Click to Register Lectio Divina Saturdays at 2 pm (ET – USA) Please note that you need to register for each session separately. The small groups are an integral part of the Lectio and while
The desire for intimacy and union with God in prayer is the compelling mark of Carmelite Spirituality. This has been true from the writing of the ancient Carmelite Rule in 1206 to the mystical writings of our great sixteenth century founders and reformers to the present day. It is the focus around which Teresa of
Carmelite Monastery of Baltimore Archives On this site you may search inventories of the archival collection of the Carmelite Monastery of Baltimore (est.1790). These records of the continuous life of the oldest community of religious women in the original thirteen states are significant for a number of reasons.
- Historical Roots
- The Carmelite Order
- American Carmelites
- The First Forty Years: Port Tobacco
- The Move to Baltimore
On April 19, 1790, four Carmelite nuns embarked from Hoogstraet, Belgium, for Charles County, Maryland, in the newly formed United States of America. The nuns were members of English-speaking communities in Hoogstraet and Antwerp, important centers for the English recusant community of the Lowlands in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. All but one of the nuns were natives of Maryland descended from the Catholic gentry reaching back to the beginning of Lord Baltimore’s colony. Accompanied by their Maryland-born, Jesuit trained chaplain, they arrived at Brent’s Landing on the Potomac River July 11, the same year John Carroll was ordained first Bishop of the United States. On July 21, 1790, the nuns established the first community of religious women in the thirteen original states, the first Carmelite Monastery in North America.
The Carmelite Order they were establishing in the new world had weathered nearly six centuries of existence since its eremitical beginnings on Mount Carmel in Palestine at the dawn of the thirteenth century.1 Carmelite friars had migrated to Europe and joined the great mendicant surge; they had moved into the city and the university, setting up an uneasy tension between contemplation and apostolic ministry that has endured for over eight hundred years.2 The long affiliation of women with the Order had been formally recognized in 1452 when the beguines of “Ten Elsen” in Guelders were received into the Order by John Soreth, the General.3 In 1562 during the Counter Reformation, Teresa of Avila had initiated in Spain the reform of both the nuns and the friars. During her life time, in an expansion marked by extreme conflict, seventeen convents of Carmelite nuns had been founded throughout Spain setting the stage for the separation of the Carmelites into two distinct Orders by 1593.4 Whe...
British colonials from Maryland began crossing the ocean to become Carmelites in 1742.7 Among them were Mary Brent (1731-1784) who joined the Antwerp community in 1751; and Anne Matthews (1732-1800) who three years later together with Ann Hill (1734-1813), the cousin of John Carroll, entered the community in Hoogstraet.8 By the last quarter of the eighteenth century, therefore, the seed for Carmel in America had taken root and produced strong American leadership for the “English Teresians” in both Hoogstraet and Antwerp. This leadership proved to be a strong base from which to plan for the founding of a new monastery in Maryland. Mother Margaret Mary Brent had the primary role in preparing for this foundation. When she died in 1784 at age fifty-three just after completing six years as prioress of the Antwerp community, it fell to her close collaborator, Mother Bernardina Matthews, a neighbor from Charles County who was prioress at Hoogstraet Carmel from 1771 to 1790, to take on the...
The first American Carmelites established their monastery on a farm at Port Tobacco in Southern Maryland and dedicated it on October 15, 1790 to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. (For theological reasons, this was very soon abbreviated to the Sacred Heart.) Managed by their chaplain, Charles Neale, who donated his entire patrimony to buy it, the farm supported the Anglo-American community in their poor and simple life for forty years. There were significant characteristics of this first Carmelite foundation, the only one in the United States for 73 years, that were influential in shaping the future. First, the community was rooted in the Anglo-Catholic tradition that prized the values of religious toleration, mutual respect and freedom of conscience. The Maryland gentry carried in their collective soul the memory of a colony founded on the principles of religious toleration and mutual respect. Just as deep, however, was the later memory of disenfranchisement, deprivation...
Following the death of the two founding prioresses and driven by the economically depressed condition of Charles County, the death of Charles Neale and the failure of the farm, the community closed the monastery at Port Tobacco and moved to Aisquith Street in East Baltimore in 1831. (See separate entry for the history of the monastery property in Port Tobacco.) To support themselves at a time when begging had “become very odious to the Catholics of the city,” they opened in October 1832 The Carmelite Sisters Academy for the Education of Young Ladies of all religious denominations, one of the first four such academies in the original States. For twenty years, three or four of the nuns, Sister Teresa (Juliana Sewall)chief among them, staffed the school. Although in 1792 Bishop John Carroll had, in view of his need for teachers, obtained a rescript from the Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith allowing the nuns to teach, they had refused Carroll’...
In 1873, the community relocated a second time to a newly built monastery on Caroline and Biddle Streets in East Baltimore where they remained for almost one hundred years. In 1961, shortly before Vatican II, the community moved to a twenty-seven acre property in Dulaney Valley, Baltimore County. This relocation and dislocation after a century in one place proved to be a significant preparation for the process of renewal begun by the Council. In 1990, Baltimore Carmel observed its bicentennial with celebratory liturgies and a weeklong seminar, Carmel and the Rediscovery of the American Soul, which was attended by eight hundred participants – Carmelites, religious and lay people. In the year 2015, during the fifth centenary of St. Teresa’s birth, the community marked 225 years of continuous Carmelite life in Maryland.
Seven branches sprouting forty-seven foundations were to grow on the initial Baltimore tree. The second Carmel in the country was founded in St. Louis on October 1, 1863 at the invitation of Archbishop Peter R. Kenrick and with the encouragement of Francis P. Kenrick, Archbishop of Baltimore. A sad peculiarity of this foundation, made during the Civil War, was that a period of community conflict and unrest was resolved when the five foundresses, led by Mother Gabriel (Ellie Boland) and Mother Alberta (Mary Jane Smith) departed Baltimore. Only fourteen years later St. Louis Carmel sent four nuns, led by Mother Teresa (Louise Josephine Roman)to establish New Orleans Carmel, the third in the United States and the first of eleven monasteries founded on the St. Louis branch between 1877 and 1955. With the exception of Saint Louis Carmel, which was founded from the Aisquith Street monastery, all Baltimore Carmel’s foundations were made not from Port Tobacco nor Aisquith Street, but from t...
Jul 14, 2013 · One of 65 Carmelite monasteries in the nation, Baltimore Carmel houses 18 nuns and two postulants (aspiring members), women ranging in age from 33 to 93. Their ex-professions include dentistry,...