no. 3   july - september 2005


Institutum Carmelitanum Holds Congress on the Rule
Papers will be published in book for 2007 celebration of the Rule

Carmelite scholars gathered in Lisieux from July 4th -8th to study the Rule of St. Albert in preparation for the eighth centenary of that document being given to the hermits on Mount Carmel by the Patriarch Albert of Vercelli. The Rule was studied from the historical, textual, and sociological perspectives as the group explored the challenges of making the thirteenth century text speak to modern audiences and shape contemporary Carmelite life. The conference was held at L’Érmitage, a hotel and conference center run by the Donum Dei Missionary Family, that adjoins the Carmel of St. Thérèse.

It was the first time that the Order has used this facility and everyone was most pleased with it. Among the scholars presenting were Silvano Giordano, O.C.D., a well known Discalced Carmelite historian who teaches at the Teresianum and has written extensively about the Holy Land at the time of Albert. Craig Morrison, O.Carm. of the Pontifical Biblical Institute gave an enlightening paper on how Albert used scripture in the Rule. Patrick Mullins, Dean of the Theology Faculty at Milltown Institute presented on the theological implications of the phrase "in obsequio Ihesu Christi vivere."

Sister Eliane Poirot, O.C.D., a Carmelite nun and patristic scholar, presented on the influence of the Eastern tradition on the Rule. Other participants included James Boyce, Fernando Millan, Dariusz Borek, Bryan Deschamp, Giovanni Grosso, Jos Huls, Kevin Alban, Richard Copsey, Carlo Cicconetti, Bruno Secondin, Kees Waaijman, and others. It was an opportunity to enliven the intellectual dialogue within the Order by surfacing scholars who had not previously been invited to work in Carmelitana and bringing new voices to the fore.

By allowing new voices into the dialogue it was discovered that there is far less consensus than previously thought about the origins of the Order and that much of the scholarship of the past fifty years will be subject to reappraisal. According to Patrick McMahon, praeses of the Institutum Carmelitanum, "We thought we were ready to say some definitive things about our Rule, and we found out that we are only beginning to understand it. There is material here for another fifty years of research and study."

(Top) Discussing some of the finer points of the Rule are Huub Welzen (Neer) and Christopher O’Donnell (Hib) during the Congress in Liseux, France. (Bottom) Fernando Millán (Bet), professor of theology at Universidad Pontificia Comillas in Madrid, Spain, ponders the presentation on the Rule. (Photos courtesy of the Institutum Carmelitanum)

Meeting of the Carmelite Institutes Begins to Create Network

Following the Conference on the Rule, members of various institutes affiliated with the Carmelite Order met at L’Érmitage from July 8th-10th to investigate ways in which they can cooperate with one another and make more efficient use of resources among themselves. About twenty Carmelites were present from the Institutum Carmelitanum, the Istituto Piero Tommaso, the Titus Brandsma Institute, the Netherlands Carmelite Institute, the Instituto de Espiritulidade Tito Brandsma do Brasil (Recife), the Institut Karmel Indonesia (Malang) , the Center for Spirituality Manila, The Carmelite Institute Washington, Centre d’Etudes d’Histoire de la Spiritualité in Nantes, The Carmelite Institute of Britain and Ireland.

The meeting, though the second meeting of Institute Representatives, was the first to bring so many different institutes together. Members discussed more effective use of the Internet to communicate Carmelite spirituality and culture and to share resources among themselves. Common problems of funding, libraries, personnel needs, were also discussed, as was the need to proactively recruit a new generation of scholars to continue the intellectual life of the Order.

  New Bibliographer of the Institutum Carmelitanum in Rome Named

The Prior General and his Council appointed Fr. Stephan Panzer, O. Carm., a member of the Upper German Province to the position of Bibliographer and member of the Institutum. As bibliographer, Stephan will be responsible for the publication of the annual bibliography. He will continue living in Germany for the major part of the year.

He would be grateful for anyone who comes across information for the annual bibliography to submit it to him (


Institute "San Pier Tommaso" in Rome Announces Program

In September the first session of the three year program, "History and Spirituality of the Carmelite Order," of the Istituto San Pier Tommaso, the Institute of the Italian Province, begins. The first session runs two weeks. It includes training on how to read historical and spiritual texts. This will focus on reading the Rule of Saint Albert, Rubrica Prima, and a study of Elijah and Maria.

Leading the courses will be Emmanuele Boaga, Giovanni Grosso, and Carlo Cicconetti, all members of the Italian Province.

A third week of the course will take place January 2-4 and on May 6, 2006. The September session will be held at Convento S. Paolo in Nocera Umbra. The third session will be at the Institute at San Martino ai Monte in Rome. Sessions run from 9-12 am and from 4-7 pm each day.

The course is recognized by the theology faculty of the Marianum Pontifical University.

In past years, the professed students of the Italian Province as well as enclosed nuns, sisters from affiliated Congregations and Institutes, and interested Lay Carmelites participated. "Correspondence courses" for laity are being planned.

Carmelite Museum Project Moves Ahead

A collaborative effort to showcase res Carmelitana in a virtual museum is being presented to the Major Superiors of the Carmelite provinces and monasteries, members of the institutes and congregations affiliated to the Order, and their webmasters. Each is being asked to play a part in promoting Carmelite history and spirituality through this museum on the Internet.

The idea originated in discussions of the joint meetings of the International Culture Commission and the Administrative Board of the Institutum Carmelitanum in October 2004. It was presented and further discussed at the recent meeting of the worldwide Carmelite related Institutes in Lisieux, France.

"When you think about it, the cultural contribution of the Order has been phenomenal over the eight centuries of the Carmel’s history. Our contribution ranges from the frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel to Handel’s Vespers for the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, from the Krakow choir books to Brazilian folk art, from the poetry of John of the Cross to the Tieplo paintings in Venice. We need to become more familiar with this heritage, and to inspire others with it, if we are to make a contribution to it in our own day," explained Patrick McMahon, praeses of the Institutum Carmelitanum.

The creation of the virtual museum on the internet will allow the materials to be presented and arranged in various expositions without ever leaving the safety of the monasteries. It is expected that many of the items, once they are displayed, will produce interest well beyond the Carmelite Family.

Carmelite art, for example, has been usually restricted to a very small group as it has been located in various houses and monasteries around the world. "As a General Councilor I have been fortunate to travel and have been able to see some of the artwork, books, paintings and stained glass windows that we have. I never know who is enjoying it more—me or the person explaining the object to me," said William J. Harry, O. Carm., General Councilor for Culture. "Since not all of us can travel, we decided we could make these things available to just about everyone using the power of the internet."

In the fall, major superiors and webmasters will receive a letter explaining the project goals in more detail and a request for their help. "Since the world of Carmelite artwork is vast, we are going to have to break it down into segments and spread the work among a large number of those who know the objects and webmasters who can make it available on the net."

The future website for the virtual museum is: