no. 2   april - june 2005

Treasures of the Cracow Library

Paul Chandler (Aus) and Patrick McMahon (Institutum Carmelitanum) visited the Carmelite Library in Cracow from March 22-27th. Mr. Szymon Sulecki, librarian, and Carmelite Zbigniew Czerwien had come to the meeting of Carmelite Librarians in Boxmeer, The Netherlands, in July 2004 with a report on the uniqueness of the Cracow collection which contains over 300 incunabula and 15,000 books printed before 1800 making it perhaps the most important collection of materials in the Order.

The majority of the books are in Latin, with notable collections in Polish, French, German, and Italian. Although many of the older books are not Carmelite specific, two old catalogues of the collection—one from the late sixteenth century and one from the eighteenth—give important insights into the educational and cultural level of the Cracow house and Polish province.

While similar collections would have existed in various convents around the Order, the Cracow library is unique in that its collection has remained intact. Other libraries suffered from the secularizations of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when governments routinely disbanded religious communities, confiscating libraries and archives.

Among the Carmelite materials is a considerable number of important spiritual writings of seventeenth-century French Carmelite authors of both the Tourraine Reform and the Discalced Carmelite tradition. Some of the old books have been beautifully restored, but many others are carefully stored away until sufficient funds for restoration can be found.

In addition to this marvellous collection of books, the Cracow church and convent is an architectural jewel and contains an extensive patrimony of art and liturgical objects. The house was founded by Carmelites from Prague at the invitation of Queen Jaedwiga (Hedwig) in 1348. The current convent and church date from a seventeenth-century restoration made necessary by the destruction of the original foundations by the Swedish Army in 1655.

The website of the Polish Province is
The website of the Institutum Carmelitanum is

400th Anniversary of Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi’s Death to be Celebrated in 2007

Plans are being made to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the death of Carmelite mystic and saint Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi. Celebrations will be in Rome and in Florence where the saint lived.

Spiritual exercises by Discalced Carmelite Luigi Borriello will be preached in Florence.

In Florence, a two day congress with a variety of conferences will be held, mostly likely at the Carmine, the Carmelite church and monastery. The congress, which will be held most likely in the second half of May 2007, will conclude with a mass.

In Rome there will be an afternoon of study at the Marianum, a pontifical school of theology which most of the Italian Province students attend. Two conferences are being planned.

Around the time of the conferences there will be a celebration at San Giovanni dei Fiorentini in Florence on April 22. The Cardinal of Florence will be invited to celebrate the Mass.

A number of publications are also in the works. A new critical edition of the saint’s writing is being done in Italian by Pedro Bravo, a member of the General Commissariat of Portugal. Another version of her writings, in more popular language and suitable for wider distribution, will be developed.

A guide to the places in the area around Florence important for saint’s life will be developed. This will be based on an earlier publication but with more recent photos and updated information.

Approximately ten series of notes from the saints writings will be created in Italian. These will be distributed by Edizioni Carmelitane in English and Spanish to the Order. A liturgical triduum will be developed in Italian and distributed to all the houses and monasteries.

The reproduction of the woodcuts of the Dutch artist Dipienbeecke of the life of Mary Magdalene de’Pazzi will be done by the Carmeliane delle Grazie in Bologna.

A web site highlighting the various celebrations for St. Mary Magdelene de’Pazzi is being created in the three languages of the Order. The site will also link to other selected sites connected to the saint.

Carmelite Institute of Britain and Ireland (CIBI)

The Carmelite Provincials of Ireland and Britain and the Discalced Carmelite Provincial of Ireland and England approved in principle the establishment of a Carmelite Institute of Britain and Ireland at their meeting in Gort Muire, Ireland on March 21, 2005.

The purpose of such an Institute is to diffuse the Carmelite charism, heritage, and spirituality by offering introductory and more advanced courses and awards in Carmelite Studies, through part-time and distance-learning. Such courses will be available to members of the Carmelite Family and others interested in Carmelite history and spirituality.

A committee appointed at the previous joint meeting in October 2004 will continue working on the project.

Use of Media is "Central to Church Mission"

Pope John Paul II’s last apostolic letter before his death was his first on communications. In it, he says the use of media technology is now "an integral part of the (Church’s) mission in the third millennium." The pope calls on 21st century Catholics to show an "openness and a new approach to the world of media."

The 19 page apostolic letter, entitled "The Rapid Development," was issued to mark the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s first decree on communications, Inter Mirifica, approved on December 4, 1963. The new papal letter is dated January 24, 2005.

"The great challenge of our time," says the pope, "is maintaining truthful and free communications which will help consolidate integral progress in the world." He calls for a "change in mentality and pastoral renewal" with regards to communications. "In mass communications the Church finds a valuable support in its work of spreading the Gospel and religious values, for promoting dialogue and ecumenical and inter-religious cooperation."

Pope John Paul says it is important, four decades after Vatican II, "to reflect on the ‘challenges’ which the communications media constitute for the Church." Among these challenges he lists better collaboration between the laity and the clergy in order to spread the Church’s message through the media. He also emphasizes the need to educate other to use media technology responsibly and make it a vehicle for fostering peace and dialogue.

Adapted from an article in The Tablet

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity Subject of Carmelite Forum

The Carmelite Forum of Britain and Ireland will dedicate its annual conference to a study of Carmelite Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity. The conference will be held at Terenure College in Dublin, Ireland on September 10, 2005 and again on September 11 at Westminster Cathedral Hall in London, England.

The conference is entitled "Discovering Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity – A Carmelite for Today" and will feature Donna Orsuto, an American lay woman who teaches in Rome, as the keynote speaker both days. The centenary of the death of Blessed Elizabeth will be celebrated in 2006 with a number of studies of her life and spirituality. The Carmelite Forum seeks to introduce her spirituality and her profoundly attractive personality through this gathering.

The Carmelite Forum of Britain and Ireland is an association of all the branches of the Carmelite Family and all those associated through their spirituality with Carmel. It is a collaborative effort of Carmelites of both the OCARM and OCD branches in both Britain and Ireland.

The inaugural conference of the Forum, held in 2004, was entitled "Carmelite Perspectives: A Contribution to Our Contemporary Understanding of Mary."

Web site for the Carmelite Forum:

Present Day Carmel Heading to Picture Archive

A photo archive of the Provinces and enclosed monasteries as they are today is being developed at CITOC in Rome.

"I got the idea when I was trying to find pictures for publication in CITOC," said William J. Harry, the General Councilor for Communications and director of CITOC. "It seemed to be the rule that I never had the pictures I needed. Sometimes I could call and ask someone to get me a particular picture but not everyone had the time or the interest."

Then when a Carmelite presented him with a disk of photos from one of the provinces, the idea clicked.

"With modern technology, you can take hundreds of good, high quality, inexpensive pictures, organize them once on a disk, store them in a little space, and then go to the next project," explained Fr. William. "The only trouble is that everyone remembers the pictures of Riccardo Palazzi and expects that we are going to get the same high quality. It won’t happen. But with a good digital camera, you can get some excellent photos."

At the present time there are approximately 10 full CDs of pictures as part of the photo archives.

"Almost every place we have visited in the Order has been enthusiastic about helping us get good pictures. The enclosed nuns in Spain really enjoyed showing me the Carmelite shields which are everywhere around their monasteries. They were also enthusiastic about me taking pictures of their communities."

"These will be great resources for people in the future. There is nothing comparable to looking through old pictures to get a feel for the people and their lives," said Fr. William. "But right now these photos are a tremendous resource for our publications."

And what about when the technology changes and CDs are no longer used? "I hope to be long gone by then!" he said.

The Annual All-Student Gathering of the PCM and SEL Provinces of the North American Region took place at Whitefriars Hall in Washington, DC on January 14-16, 2005. The keynote address, given by Dr. Charles Gravenstine, was entitled "Family Systems and Community Life." The group viewed the film "Hotel Rwanda," a recent film depicting the genocide in that country and one man’s efforts to save over a thousand people by harboring them in his hotel. An "International Lunch" was prepared by the students who represent 12 different nations. Liturgical services were prepared by the various student communities from around the nation. (Photos courtesy of Joseph Hung Tran, O. Carm.)