no. 3   july - september 2007


2007: Year of Celebration for Carmelite Family

St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi and 800 Years of the Formula Vitae of St. Albert of Jerusalem Celebrated

The Carmelite Family has come together for two major celebra- tions in the past few months. For more than a week in May, the Carmelite Order and the Church of Florence celebrated the 400th anniversary of the death of St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi with a number of religious and cultural events. On Saturday, May 12, the family gathered with the Discalced Carmelites at the church of Santa Maria in Traspontina to celebrate the 800th anniversary of St. Albert of Jerusalem giving the formula vitae.

Celebration of the Saint’s Life 400 Years After Her Death

On Friday, May 18th, the Archdiocesan Seminary, located in the former Carmelite monastery where the saint lived and died, opened an art show entitled "Maria Magdalene de’ Pazzi: Saint of Love not Loved." This brought together many of the familiar paintings of the saint as well as some objects connected with her life.

The following day the official opening of the anniversary celebrations was held at Palazzo Strozzi with officials from the City of Florence, the Archdiocese of Florence, and the Carmelite Order. In the evening, the urn containing the body of the saint was moved to the chapel of the seminary.

On the feast of the Ascension of the Lord, Sunday, May 20th, an evening of prayer with the young people of the archdiocese was held at the archdiocesan seminary. This was followed with a procession to the Cathedral with the body of the saint where the group was welcomed by the Archbishop, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli.

From Monday through Thursday, various groups from throughout the Archdiocese of Florence came to the Duomo for prayer and a Eucharistic celebration.

On Tuesday, May 22, the Cantori di S. Giovanni and the choir of the Cathedral joined together for the oratorio "Santa Maria Magdalena de’ Pazzi" at the Church of St. Gaetano. The oratorio was composed by Cardinal Benedetto Pamphili, whose writings were often used by the composer Frederick Handel in his compositions.

On Friday, May 25, the feast of the great Carmelite saint, three major events were held. The morning began with a solemn Eucharistic celebration at the Monastery of Santa Matia degli Angeli in Careggi. The celebration was lead by Joseph Chalmers, the Prior General, with the presence of many Carmelite priests, sisters, and laity. Also participating were archdiocesan clergy and faithful.

Later in the afternoon, solemn vespers were celebrated in the Cathedral of Florence. This was immediately followed by a Pontifical Mass celebrated by Cardinal Ennio Antonelli. Present were many Carmelites, members of La Familia, the Lay Carmelites, archdiocesan clergy, and members of the Pazzi family.

Later in the evening, a reading of the text of St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi entitled "Venite ad amare l’amore" ("Come to Love Love Himself") was held in the Cathedral. This had to be moved from the Baptistry because of the crowd attending. The program featured Italian actress, Claudia Koll. The Cathedral, the presence of the urn with the saint’s body, and the dramatic presentation by Ms. Koll provided a very moving atmosphere in which to gain new appreciation for the saint’s writings.

Another Eucharistic celebration was held in the Oratory of San Girolamo on the grounds of the Villa Pazzi in Parugiano. This was the summer home of the family during the time of the saint.

On Saturday, May 26th, the Order sponsored a congress on aspects of the saint’s life and writings in the Sala Vanni in the Monastery of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence. Later in the evening the body of the saint was moved to the Cathedral of Pistoia.

The celebrations continued on Sunday, May 27th with the transfer of the urn to the hermitage of Santa Maria degli Angeli al Cerro. In the afternoon, the Bishop of Prato led a Eucharistic celebration following which the body of the saint was returned to the Carmelite monastery in Careggi.

The Carmelite Family gathered in the Basilica of Santa Maria del Carmine at 4 PM for a Eucharist celebrated by the the Prior General, Joseph Chalmers. Many of the members of La Familia, members of the General Council, and Carmelites from throughout Italy, and faithful participated.

Later in the evening, the Comune of Montemurlo held a concert in honor of the saint at the Villa Pazzi, the summer home of the saint’s family, in Parugiano. Music was provided by the philarmonic orchestra Giuseppe Verdi of Montemurlo. This was preceded by the presentation of a new biography of the saint, "Pietre e fuoco, sui passi di Santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi carmelitana fiorentina" by Carmelite Gianfranco Tuveri.

The Gift of Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi

Born in Florence in April 1566, into a noble family, the saint was baptized Catherine. Overcoming the resistance of her parents, she entered the Carmelite monastery Santa Maria degli Angeli, then located near the Basilica Santa Maria del Carmine and assumed the name Mary Magdalene.

Her confessors, in order to determine if the ecstasies the Carmelite was experiencing were divinely inspired, obliged her to tell her superiors everything. Her sisters wrote down her words during and after the ecstasies.

In a letter to the Cardinal Archbishop of Florence on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the death of Mary Magdelene, Pope Benedict XVI described these as intense experiences "that, at only 19 years old, rendered her capable of understanding the mystery of salvation — from the incarnation of the Word in Mary’s womb to the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost."

These experiences were published as "Forty Days" (1584), "Discussions" (1585), and "Revelations and Understandings" (1585).

Five years of interior purification were to follow. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi described it as a time when the Word, her Spouse, removed from her the feeling of grace and left her, like Daniel in the lions’ den, to suffer many trials and temptations.

Her great desire for Church reform was born during this period of spiritual dryness. Like Catherine of Siena, she felt compelled to write letters to the Pope, cardinals of the Curia, her archbishop and other Church leaders, encouraging them to work for the renewal of the church.

Eventually, tuberculosis forced her to slowly withdraw from the active life of the community.

"Purified love, which beat so strongly in her heart, opened her to the desire for full conformity with Christ, her Spouse, even unto sharing with him the ‘nudo patire’ [naked suffering] of the cross," Pope Benedict wrote. "The last three years of her life were a true Calvary of sufferings for her."

She died on May 25, 1607. She was beatified on May 8, 1626, by Pope Urban VIII, also from Florence, and was canonized by Pope Clement IX on April 28, 1669.

Benedict XVI added: "During her life she would ring the bells and exhort her fellow sisters saying: ‘Come to love Love!’ The great mystic from Florence, from her convent and from the Carmelite monasteries that look to her, we pray that we may still hear her voice in the entire Church, spreading the proclamation of God’s love for every human creature."

OCDs and OCARMs Celebrate 800th Anniversary of the Rule in Rome

Members of the Carmelite Family came together on May 12, 2007, at the Carmelite Church Santa Maria in Traspontina in Rome to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Formula Vitae of St. Albert of Jerusalem. The Eucharist was presided by Archbishop Gianfranco Agostino Gardin, OFM Conv., secretary of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life at the Vatican.

The Prior General of the Carmelites, Joseph Chalmers, and the Praepositor General of the Discalced Carmelites, Luis Aróstegui Gamboa, were the principal concelebrants. Members of the General Councils of both Orders as well as a number of other Carmelites also concelebrated.

Members of the various affiliated groups which are located around Rome also participated as did various Lay Carmelite groups.

Following the celebration, Archbishop Gardin, the two General Councils and members of the affiliated Orders were hosted by the community of Centro Internazionale Sant’Alberto (CISA) for refreshments.

The evening celebration, which provided the opportunity to both reflect on the meaning of the Rule for the Carmelites today and to give thanks to God for 800 years of life in the Church, was initiated by the 2001 General Chapter.

The General Council, with the assistance of various members of the different provinces, has published a small pocket size book with the Carmelite Rule in both Latin and a modern language. The book also contains colored pictures of various scenes of Carmelite life.

A collection of the presentations made at the 2005 Congress on the Rule in Liseux, France is due to be published in September. This meeting was organized by the Institutum Carmelitanum of Rome. Some two dozen scholars from Canada, Italy, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, and the USA met at L’Hermitage in Lisieux from July 4-7, 2005. The studies were divided into the historical context of the Rule, textual studies, the classical commentaries, and contemporary approaches to the Rule.

Various other initiatives to celebrate the 800th anniversary are ongoing in some provinces, monasteries, and Lay Carmelite groups. (see related article)

Painting of St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi at the entrance to the Cathedral in Florence during the anniversary celebrations. (CITOC foto)

A representation of the Carmelite Rule with the strong common roots dividing into two flourishing trees. This picture hangs in the Carmelite monastery located in Montegnacco di Cassacco (Udine), Italy. (CITOC foto)

The body of St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi in the Duomo of Florence surrounded by the faithful. (CITOC foto)

Crowds accompany the Saint’s body from the Archdiocesan Seminary through the streets of Florence to the Cathedral on the night of May 20th. The Archdiocese held a prayer vigil, led by the youth of the archdiocese.

The words of St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi come to life during a dramatic presentation by noted Italian actress Claudia Koll and narrator Marco Predieri. The presentation was made in the Duomo of Florence.

View of some of the participants at the mass celebrated by members of the Carmelite Family in the Basilica of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence for the closing of the 400th Anniversary of the death of St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi. (CITOC foto)

The Chapel of San Girolamo and tabernacle on the grounds of the Villa Pazzi in Parugiano, near Florence. Construction on the chapel began in 1566, the year the saint was born. After 1728, the name of the saint was added to the chapel’s title. The tabernacle originally held a painting of the 15 year old saint in ecstasy which occurred in that garden on the feast of St. Andrew. Her mother would only later tell the Carmelites nuns about this ectasy. Today it holds a statue of Mary with a marble tablet recalling its importance. (CITOC foto)

The room at the Carmelite monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Florence where the saint died on May 25, 1607. Because of the poor conditions at the monastery, the nuns moved from this monastery in ___________. The building was expanded and now houses the Archdiocesan seminary. (CITOC foto)

View of the Eucharistic celebration at the Carmelite church in Rome, Santa Maria in Traspontina, for the 800th anniversary of the Formula Vitae by St. Albert of Jerusalem. The Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Gardin, Secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Consecrated Life.

Some of the decorations in the chapel of the Pazzi Villa by Giovanni Stradano. The construction of the chapel began the year the Saint was born. It is believed that the woman on far left of the painting represents Maria Magdalena. When the chapel decorations were started, Maria had already entered the Carmelite monastery in nearby Florence and never saw the paintings.