There are many Saints and saints who have lived the Carmelite ideals both within and outside the Order. Here you will find brief accounts of some of them. The three most important saints of the Teresian Carmel have each been named Doctors of the Church: Teresa of Jesus (Avila), John of the Cross and Therese of the Child Jesus (Lisieux). Many of their writings make up much of the curriculum for various stages of formation. More about them can be found on other pages of this site and on www.carmelife.com .
The role of sanctity in the history of the O.Carm. and OCD traditions:
The Reform of Saint Teresa of Avila can only be understood in the context of the Spanish Reformation instituted by the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella at the end of the reconquista. The Spanish Church anticipated many of the reforms of Council of Trent and most of the religious orders generated observant branches as their members sought to embrace what they understood to be the primitive vision of their founders. The observants put a particular stress on poverty, penitential practices, and the contemplative life. Many of these movements, such as the discalced Franciscans of Peter of Alcántara, went barefoot as a sign of their commitment to return to unmitigated religious rules.
Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada was born in 1515, the daughter of Alonso de Cepeda, son of a Jewish merchant of Toledo who had been forced to convert to Christianity, and Alonso’s second wife, Beatriz de Ahumada. In 1535 she entered the Carmelite monastery of the Encarnación in Avila. Teresa learned about mental prayer early in her Carmelite life and she was profoundly influenced by Francisco de Osuna’s Third Spiritual Alphabet. Although drawn to contemplative prayer, she lacked the discipline to persevere in it through periods of aridity. In 1554 she was profoundly moved by an encounter with a statute of Christ being scourged and this experience proved to be the beginning of her mystical life (The Book of Her Life, 9.1,9). From this mystical life came her great spiritual energy that directed the reform of Carmel and the great renewal of Carmelite Spirituality.
When she initiated the reform of Carmel, Aug. 24, 1562, Teresa put before her eyes the model of the holy hermits from whom Carmel took its origin (cf. Way of Perfection 11.4), even though the structure she adopted for her nuns was cenobitic in form in conformity with the requirements of the Council of Trent (Efrén de la Madre de Dios, “El ideal de S. Teresa en la fundación de San Jose,” Carmelus 10 (1963), 206-230.) Looking back to the early hermits for inspiration, Teresa’s contemplative ideal came forth from the atmosphere of solitude, silence, and prayer as demanded by the Carmelite Rule. In her first book written for the instruction of her discalced nuns, she centered the whole observance around mental prayer (cf. Way of Perfection 4.2,3). By mental prayer Teresa means an intimate sharing between friends—the soul and God. (The Book of Her Life, 8.5) The mystical life described in her autobiography is based on personal experiences that occurred only when she committed herself totally to God. The discalced Franciscan, Saint Peter of Alcántara, had a particularly strong effect on shaping her vision of observant life, even as her Jesuit spiritual directors facilitated her interior development. Through the years, Teresa received advice from many confessors and learned men of the secular clergy and of different religious orders. They did not change her Carmelite spirit but rather helped her shape it into a vital part of the renaissance of spirituality that was energizing the whole Church during the Catholic Reformation. Teresa always saw herself as a Daughter of the Church.
From its beginning, Teresa’s reform of Carmel was marked by long periods of mental prayer each day. Initially, mental prayer was done in solitude. The constitutions of the discalced friars, written in 1567, prescribed three hours of solitary prayer. At least one of them was to be spent reading aloud the point to be meditated on during the mental prayer that followed (Bibliotheca Mist. Carm. 6 (Burgos 1919) 400.
The interest in the contemplative life was not limited to the discalced Reform and spiritual literature; even among the friars following the unmitigated observance, it showed signs of renewal. Miguel de Carranza wrote Camino del cielo en siete jornadas para los siete diacute;as de la semana (Valencia 1601). And Juan Sanz excelled as a master of contemplation J. Pinto de Vitoria, Vida del V. M. Fr. Juan Sanz (Valencia 1612)
St. John of the Cross.
When the confessors and learned men were Teresa’s own friars, their voice was familiar to her and it had the sound of her own traditions and of the doctrines and teachings of the Institutio. As men, they were inclined to approach and explain the reformed life and Carmelite spirituality in theological, scientific, and historical categories, bringing Carmel from isolation into dialogue with both the Church and the academy. Among them St. John of the Cross displayed a particular genius. According to his first biographer, José de Jesús Maria (Quiroga, 1562-1629) he had studied the spiritual heritage of Carmel in the light of patrology, history, and Bible in order to articulate the substance of contemplation, (Historia…del V. P. Fr. Juan de la Cruz, (Brussels 1628) 1.4.37-38)
John of the Cross was not the inventor of a new doctrine but a wise man who framed his doctrine in principles so diaphonous that their ultimate consequences are seen at a glance to follow from them. For St. John the supernatural life pivots on two hinges, the soul and God. God is like a seed infused in the depths of the soul where God dwells and whence God governs the soul and with it the whole body, so that God and the soul constitute in a sense one thing, thus making it possible to say with St. Paul “It is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2.20). The will is in charge of this supernatural metabolism. This transforming union takes place when the will submits itself completely to God’s will. And it is achieved by an absolute turning away from everything that does not come from God. Although this is spoken of as negation, it is positive in its significance, for it is made up of acts of the love of God. The Triune God is not an abstract concept but a spiritual reality implanted in the apex of the human spirit, which, in its turn, is surrounded by many corporal crusts, like a dwarf fan‑palm, to use the metaphor of St. Teresa (Interior Castle, I.2.8).
John of the Cross begins his elaboration of the doctrine of perfect union of the soul with God by analyzing the characteristics of the body and of the spirit or soul, whether intellectual or sensitive. Like many others in the sixteenth century, John drew his underlying philosophical concepts from the lineage of Neoplatonic thought that came down from antiquity through—among others—Clement of Alexandria, Augustine, the Victorines, and Bonaventure, to give modes of expression to Christian thought. The abstract concepts of Aristotelian thought, theologically represented by Thomism, could not adequately convey the clear exposition of the spiritual realities of which John wrote and which he intended to be not so much subjects of theological reflection as guides for the spiritual life. The first fruit of the doctrinal influence of St. John of the Cross appears in the Interior Castle of St. Teresa. She tells of the opportune intervention of a “learned man,” who was, in fact, John (Interior Castle. IV, 1.8). Teresa’s detailed analysis of the soul, pointing out potencies, passions, imaginations, thoughts, soul and spirit, is a superb treatise that shows the influence of John of the Cross (cfr. Efrén de la Madre de Dios, San Juan de la Cruz y el misterio de la Santísima Trinidad en la vida espiritual (Saragossa 1947).
Influence of St. John of the Cross in the 17th Century
The first disciples of St. John of the Cross, unaffected by the scholasticism which was to prevail afterward, follow his Trinitarian schema. José de Jesús Maria (Quiroga) wrote Subida del alma a Dios (Madrid 1656-59) and Inocencio de San Andrés (d.1620) wrote Teologiá mística y espejo de la vida eterna. Cecilia del Nacimiento (1570-1646) wrote De la transformación del alma en Dios.
There were others who did not depend as closely on John of the Cross but who were nevertheless outstanding and influential in their own right. Among these were Juan de Jesús Maria (Aravalles d. 1609) who redacted the Instrucción de Novicios for the Discalced Carmelites. The great mystic Juan de Jesús Maria (Sampedro 1564-1615) played an important role in the spiritual formation in the Italian Discalced congregation. His three volume Opera omnia, was edited by Ildefonso de S. Luis (Florence 1771-74). More eclectic and somewhat influenced by St. John of the Cross was Tómas de Jesús (Díaz Sánchez de Avila 1564 -1627), author of numerous and profound mystical treatises, such as De contemplatione divina libri sex. (Jerónimo) Gracián de la Madre de Dios (d.1614), although without scholarly pretensions, was a most effective interpreter of Carmelite spirituality. He was devoted to the eremitical origins of Carmel and fond of the “cave” of Pastrana. To his contemplative fervor he added an indefatigable zeal in preaching and writing (Obras del p. Jerónimo Gracián de la Madre de Dios, 3 v., Burgos 1932-33). Driven from the Discalced by the Doria faction, he spent his final years in the Ancient Observance where, at the request of the Prior General, Enrique Silvio, he wrote Della disciplina regolare … dell perfettione e spirito con che si ha de osservare la regola… particolarmente quella sotto la quale vive l’Ordine della gloriosa Vergine del Carmine (Venice 1600). This work had a wide diffusion among the Italian Carmelites, partly because of the interest Silvio took in it. For many years it was standard reading in the refectory.
St. John of the Cross also had eminent followers in the Ancient Observance, most notably Miguel de la Fuente (1574-1626), who borrowed his psychological structure in Las tres vidas del hombre: corporal, racional y espiritual (Toledo 1623). Another Carmelite of the Ancient Observance who showed himself a follower of St. John of the Cross was Pablo Ezquerra (1626-96), author of Escuela de perfección, formada de espiritual doctrina de filosofía sagrada y mística theología (Saragossa 1675; new edition, Barcelona 1965).
The French School and the Touraine Reform.
Marie of the Incarnation (Barbe Acarie)
Cardinal de Bérulle and the parti devôt that gathered in the salon of Mdme. Acarie were responsible for the revival of French spirituality at the close of the sixteenth century. While this revival extended far beyond Carmel, the Cardinal’s introduction to France of the Discalced Reform with Anne of St. Bartholomew and Anne of Jesus created a fortuitous blend of Carmel with French spirituality. Of particular note are the nuns Marie de l’Incarnation (Barbe Acarie d. 1618) and Madeleine de Saint Joseph (d.1637). Avoiding the heresies of Jansenism and Quietism, both so prevalent in the French Church at the time, the French tradition put a strong emphasis on the humanity of Christ, consistent with the teachings of Teresa and John.
John of Saint Samson
An important figure in the French Carmel of the period is Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection (Nicolas Herman 1614-1691). Lawrence’s work, consisting of various letters, maxims, and memories of conversations with him, was edited and published after his death by a French secular priest, Joseph de Beaufort. The doctrine is best summarized by the short treatise Practice of the Presence of God which Beaufort drew from Lawrence’s letters and conversations. Archbishop Fénelon’s recommendation of Lawrence to his quietist followers led many orthodox Catholics to overlook him, but he enjoyed a wide popularity among Protestants from the very beginning. The Protestant pastor Pierre Poiret (1646-1719) published Lawrence’s works in a French edition later translated into German where it was popular among the pietists. Various English translations were well known in 18th century Anglican circles and no one did more to popularize Lawrence than John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. It has only been in the second half of the twentieth century that Catholics have rediscovered Brother Lawrence.
Due in no small part to the example of the Discalced, reform and renewal was to develop in the ancient branch of Carmel in France as well, producing a rich harvest of mystical writings. At Rennes, Philip Thibault (1572-1638) led a new and powerful revival of interest in stricter observance. Thibault avoided using the word “reform” to prevent a schism, such as had occurred in Spain. The best exponent of the mysticism that accompanied this revival of Carmelite ideals in France was the lay-brother, John of Saint‑Samson 1571-1636). His principal works are: Les Contemplations sur les mysterieux effets de l’amour divin; De l’effusion de l’homme hors de Dieu, et de sa refusion en Dieu par voye mystique; La Vraye espirit du Carmel; Le Miroir et les flammes de l’amour divin; De la souverain consommation de l’âme en Dieu par amour (Les Oeuvres spirituelles et mystiques du divin contemplatif fr. Jean de St. Samson, Rennes 1658). He treated the classic themes of the presence of the Trinity in the soul and the human form of God in Jesus Christ. Union with God is achieved through introversion, beginning by mastering the senses, until one gets to the spiritual potencies, whose vertex is God’s dwelling place. Tourraine provided other important writers. Dominque de Saint-Albert (1596-1634), wrote Théologie mystique, Traicté de l’oraison mentale, and Formulaire de l’oraison unitive. León de Saint-Jean (1600-71), wrote a work called Théologie mystique (Paris 1654) as well as L’ouverture des trois cieux de S. Paul (Paris 1633). Pierre de la Résurrection, master of novices, authored Le manuel des religieux profez pour servir à la conduite des seminaires et études des religieux de la province de Tourraine (4 v. Nantes 1666), De l’amour et de la connaissance de Jésus et de Marie (2 v. Rennes 1664), and Le gouvernement des passions (Nantes 1662). Maur de l’Enfant Jésus (1618-90) wrote L’Entré à la divine sagesse (Bordeaux 1652), Théologie chrétienne et mystique (Bordeaux 1651); and Le Royaume intérieur de Jésus‑Christ dans les âmes (Paris 1668). Daniel de la Vierge-Marie (1615-1678) while primarily remembered for his historical writings, made notable contributions to the spiritual literature of the Order; his Art of Arts (Antwerp, 1646) is a treatise on prayer according to Saint Teresa. But the most outstanding of all, with the exception of John of Saint‑Samson, is the Venerable Michael of St. Augustine (1621-84) for his Institutionum mysticarum libri quatuor, (ed. Antwerp 1671) containing his Mary-form and the Marian Life in Mary which anticipates the Marian spirituality of St. Louis Grignon de Montfort. Michael’s emphasis on a spirituality that very much has Mary as its center and organizing principle marks a strong departure from the classically Christocentric Carmelite mystical doctrine.
Influence of Scholasticism
Meanwhile, in the discalced Carmel there emerged a powerful school of Carmelite mysticism reshaped by scholastic influences. Defending St. John of the Cross and crediting him with the doctrine of St. Thomas, who after the Council of Trent was the oracle of Catholic doctrine, the Discalced Carmelites built up their master’s mystical doctrine with the stones of Thomism. At the same time, they formed the three great cursus: the Complutensis (University of Alcalá de Henares) in philosophy and the Salmanticenses (University of Salamanca) in dogmatic and moral theology. Diego de Jesús (Salablanca, 1570-1621) edited the works of St. John of the Cross with luminous Apuntamientos (explanatory notes) justifying his doctrine. Nicolás de Jesús María (Centurión d. 1655) defended it also in 1631 with his Elucidatio theologica circa aliquas phrases et propositiones theologiae mysticae, in particulari V. P. N. Joannis a Cruce. In a more positive form the Portuguese José del Espíritu Santo (Baroso 1609-74) wrote Cadena mística: Enucleatio mysticae theologiae S. Dionysii, Primera parte del camino espiritual de oración y contemplación. Antonio del Espíritu Santo, also a Portuguese, wrote Directorium mysticum, published in 1677, 3 years after its author’s death. Antonio de la Anunciación (d. 1713) wrote Manual de padres espirituales para almas que tratan de oración (Alcalá 1679); Disceptatio mystica de oratione et contemplatione (1683); and Quodlibeta mystica (1712). In France Philippe de la Trinité published his Summa theologiae mysticae (1656), and Cyprien de La Nativité de la Vierge (1605-80), his Traité de l’oraison mentale (1650). Honorée de Sainte-Marie (1651-1729), a learned and polemic writer, defended his mystical school with Tradition des pères et des auteurs ecclesiastiques sur la contemplation. In Italy Baldassaro di S. Catarina di Siena (d. 1673) wrote an excellent commentary on the Interior Castle, illuminated with the doctrine of St. Thomas: Splendori riflessi di sapienza celeste vibrati dá gloriosi gerarchi Tommaso d’Aquino e Teresa di Gesù (Bologna 1671). In Spain Francisco de San Tómas (1707) made a summary of Carmelite mysticism in his Médula mística, sacada de las divinas letras, de los santos padres y de los más clásicos doctores míticos y scolásticos (1691). But the summit of this scientific ascent was achieved by the eminent Andalucian José del Espíritu Santo (d. 1736) with his Cursus theologiae mystico‑scholasticae, which remained incomplete because of its author’s death. This work put an end to the scholastic cycle of the Carmelite mysticism. At this point, mystical writing had arrived at so insipid a conceptualistic analysis that it was necessary to abandon it and look for new horizons of greater relevance.
Once the scholastic influence had run its course, Carmelites were left with two possibilities: either to defend the past, selecting texts and writing new commentaries, or to reopen the psychological route, which had been abandoned when the second generation of discalced mystics turned from the methodology of St. John of the Cross toward Thomistic scholasticism. Confronted with this dilemma, Carmelite spirituality both in the Ancient Observance and the Discalced Reform suffered a crisis of indecision, almost of sterility. (El estado actual de los estudios sobre espiritualidad entre los carmelitas, Trabajos del I Congreso de espiritualidad (Salamanca 1954; Barcelona 1957). Fortunately the modern era has seen the Carmelite heritage break free of the strictures of scholasticism and recover the vitality of its 16th and 17th century pinnacle.
St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus (Thérèse of Lisieux)
Statue of St. Thérèse Monastery of Carmelite Nuns Christoval Texas
Thérèse Martin, known as Thérèse of the Child Jesus or Thérèse of Lisieux, (1873-1897), marks a revitalization of the Carmelite Tradition and its advancement into the modern era, recognized when John Paul II declared her Doctor of the Church, referring to her as the Doctor of the Science of Love. Born in Normandy, the youngest child of a large family in which several siblings had died in infancy, Thérèse was surrounded with an extraordinary familial love from her birth. She was deeply affected by the death of her mother when she was four years old and it seems to have opened a wound in her psyche that only God could salve. That hurt provided the path of entry for an extraordinary grace that would transform Thérèse and through her touch countless people in the century after her death. She had a profound awareness of the tender mercy of God, a tenderness and forgiveness that seems to be related to her memories of her mother. A precocious child, she received permission to enter Carmel at the extraordinarily youthful age of 15. She was described by the prioress as:
“Tall and robust with a childlike face, and with a tone of voice and expression that hide a wisdom, a perfection, and a perspicacity of a woman of fifty….She is a little innocent thing to whom one would give Holy Communion without previous confession, but whose head is filled with tricks to be played on anyone she pleases. A mystic, a comedienne, she is everything. She can make you shed tears of devotion, and she can as easily make you split your side with laughter during recreation.”
Two of her sisters had preceded her into the monastery, and a third followed after the death of her father. By all outward signs, there was nothing that should have marked her for the extraordinary impact she made in her brief life. Her spirituality, deeply rooted in expressing Love of God through concrete acts of love towards neighbor, led her to a Christocentricity in which she lived out the death and resurrection of Christ in the midst of life’s every-day occurrences. She recognized that true asceticism is not a matter of ferocious penance, but the far more difficult surrender of self-will. She instinctively practiced the prayer of the Presence of God, declaring that not three minutes could go by without her thinking of her beloved. Diagnosed with tuberculosis at the age of 23, she entered into a period of great spiritual darkness for the last seventeen months of her life. This was a great trial of faith in which she confessed she was in such spiritual darkness that she well understood the unbelief of the atheist. Despite the inner turmoil, her exterior manner was so cheerful and loving that not even her closest intimates knew the purgation through which she was going.
Thérèse would most likely have been forgotten to history except that her sisters had asked her to write down her memories of their childhood. Far from producing a collection of anecdotes, Thérèse related her memories as a narrative of the extraordinary grace that God had worked throughout her life. The journal, originally written in three different sections, was published the year after her death as Histoire d’une âme (The Story of A Soul) and became an outstanding spiritual classic of the twentieth century. Thérèse herself became the object of great popular devotion until the time of the Second Vatican Council. Just at the time that her popular devotion seemed to be waning, theologians began to look anew at Thérèse’s writings and interpret them as serious writings in mystical theology. Modern editions of her autobiography, as well as her letters, poetry, and several short plays have been edited and published, along with the records of her conversations in the final months of her life. Both Thérèse and her writings seem to be more popular than ever.
Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity
Elizabeth of the Trinity (Catez) (1880-1906) was born in the district of Farges-en-Septaine, France where her father was stationed as a captain in the army. After the death of her father in 1887, Elizabeth, her mother, and her sister lived in modestly genteel circumstances in Dijon. Elizabeth was an accomplished pianist but chose to enter the Carmel of Dijon rather than pursue a career in music. Her choice of vocation did not delight her mother who would have preferred to arrange a prestigious marriage. In accordance with her mother’s wishes, she delayed entering until she was 21. In Carmel she took the title: “of the Trinity” as the indwelling of the Trinity in the Soul was a very important theme for her, a spiritual gift that she was already experiencing. As she would later write, “our soul is indeed heaven where God dwells, where we must seek him and where we must remain.” Her time in Carmel was brief, she developed Addison’s Disease and died in 1906. In the months before she died she wrote several small treatises: Heaven in Faith, Last Retreat, The Greatness of our Vocation, and Let Yourself be Loved (all 1906). Although written as private reflections, one for her sister, one for a friend, and two for her superior in Carmel, the provide a spirituality as uniquely profound as it is compact. Her letters, her diary, and her poetry has also been edited and published.
Elizabeth had read Thérèse of Lisieux’s Story of a Soul even before entering Carmel, and while she approaches many of the same topics, she does so from a distinct perspective and with a different style. Her work is marked by strong Pauline themes, at times having an almost evangelical flavor. Elizabeth understood the need for conformity to Christ in his suffering and death—a particularly poignant theme in a young woman terminally ill. In its silent surrender the soul is subject to the touch of the Holy Spirit so that consecrated to God’s love it may become a “Praise of Glory. (Ephesians 1:12)” Elizabeth saw that to be such a Praise of Glory was her vocation.
Saint Edith (Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) Stein
Edith Stein (1891-1942) was born the youngest child in a large, prosperous, and orthodox Jewish family in Breslau Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland). Her father died when she was a toddler. An unusually gifted child, she briefly dropped out of school, but returned not only to finish basic studies, but to go on into academic levels that had previously been restricted to men. She began her studies in psychology, but switched to philosophy under the influence of Edmund Husserl, the father of phenomenology, whose leading student and academic assistant she became. In 1916 she submitted her Doctoral thesis, Zum problem der Einfühlung, (in English, On the Problem of Empathy). While still an adolescent, Edith had ceased believing in the faith of her family, but a series of experiences cause the young phenomenologist to move beyond agnosticism and reexamine religious ideas with her keen philosophical insight. She converted to Catholicism after reading the Vida of Saint Teresa of Avila. She desired to enter Carmel, but under the influence of her spiritual directors she instead took an active role as a Catholic intellectual and feminist in between-the-wars Germany. Her research explored the possibilities of a dialogue between phenomenology and Thomism. While she taught at a teacher-training college run by Dominican nuns in Speyer, she traveled extensively lecturing on Catholicism and modern philosophy as well as on the role of Christian women in the world. When the racial laws of the Third Reich made it impossible for her to teach or lecture, she finally received permission to enter Carmel. She entered the Cologne monastery in 1933. By her own admission, not being much good for housework, she was encouraged to continue her research and writing which she now applied to Carmelite themes, particularly undertaking a contemporary analysis of John of the Cross.
In 1938 Edith and her sister Rosa, a convert to Catholicism, fled to the Carmelite convent in Echt, Holland. This escape from danger proved only temporary and in August 1942 they were arrested along with monks, nuns, and other religious of Jewish blood and deported. Edith lived out her science of the Cross during her brief imprisonment, transport, and death in Auschwitz. Calm and recollected to the end, she spent her energy comforting the women and children targeted for extinction because they, like her, belonged to the race of the Messiah.
Although Edith had lectured for years before entering the Carmel and had done considerable research and writing after entering, very little of her work was published before her death. In addition to her dissertation, the most import of her works are, Endliches und Ewiges Sein (Finite and Eternal Being) and Kreuzeswissenschaft (The Science of the Cross) both published in 1950. Editions of her collected works have been produced in most modern languages in the final decades of the twentieth century. There seems to be a growing interest in her work and a real synthesis of her mystical theology is yet to be done.
Blessed Titus Brandsma
Titus Brandsma (1881-1942) has been less studied than Edith Stein or Elizabeth of the Trinity because much of his writing has yet to be translated from the Dutch. Brandsma, a Carmelite friar of the Ancient Observance, mixed careers in academics and journalism. It was in the later role that he took a stance against Nazism that led to his arrest and eventual death at Dachau in 1942. However, it was in his distinctive academic career—he was on the founding faculty of the Catholic University of the Netherlands at Nijmegen in 1923 and later served as its rector magnificus—that he wrote and lectured extensively in mysticism, specializing both in the Lowlands and the Carmelite Traditions. Although he wrote extensively for both popular and academic audiences, he produced no comprehensive synthesis of his spiritual doctrine. Touring the United States in 1935 he gave a series of lectures that, while intended to be more popular than scholarly, was the first attempt to present a historical synthesis of Carmelite Spirituality. It was published the following year as Carmelite Mysticism: Historical Sketches. Much of his work has only been edited and published since his death, and even more awaits translation to be accessible to a wider audience.
Other Twentieth Century Carmelite Figures
The rich spiritual treasures represented by Thérèse, Elizabeth, Edith, and Titus mark a definite advance of the tradition beyond its 16th and 17th century heritage. Their writings are only now being synthesized into a 20th century school of Carmelite Spirituality. Among other authors that should not be overlooked in that process is the American poet Jessica Powers (Miriam of the Holy Spirit, 1905-1988).
There were many other Carmelites of the modern era whose lives testify to the depth of their spirituality as they served God by serving their neighbor in the midst of daily, but often extraordinary, lives. Most did not leave much in the way of written sources, but their biographies will be rich examples of the applied spiritual theologies—Père Jacques Bunel, the Admiral Georges (Louis de la Trinité) Thierry d’Argenlieu, Bl. Raphael Kalinkowski, Bl. Hilary Januszewski, Bl. Teresa of the Andes, the Carmelites of the Mexican Revolution, the Carmelites of the Spanish Civil War, Bishop Donal Lamont and the Carmelites of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. These are only the most famous. The modern era will provide as rich sources for Carmelite Spirituality as any era in the Order’s past.