Discalced Carmelites

Order of the Discalced Carmelites of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel
Abbreviation Order of Discalced Carmelites (Ordo Carmelitarum Discalceatorum or O.C.D.)
Motto Zelo zelatus sum pro Domino Deo exercituum (With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts)
Formation Late 16th century
Type Roman Catholic religious order

Casa Generalizia dei Carmelitani Scalzi,

Corso d'Italia 38,
Rome, Italy
Leader Most Rev. Fr. Saverio (Xavier) of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, O.C.D.
Website www.discalcedcarmel.com

The Discalced Carmelites or Barefoot Carmelites is a Catholic mendicant order with roots in the eremitic tradition of the Desert Fathers and Mothers. (Discalced is derived from Latin, meaning "without shoes".) The order was established in 1593, pursuant to the reform of the Carmelite Order of the Ancient Observance by two Spanish saints, Saint Teresa of Ávila and Saint John of the Cross.

The Discalced Carmelite order is now known by the initials "O.C.D". The older branch of the order, Carmelites of the Ancient Observance, has the initials "O. Carm." The secular branch of the order (the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites formerly known as the Third Order), has the initials "O.C.D.S."


The Discalced Carmelites are men and women, in religious consecration and lay people, who dedicate themselves to a life of prayer. The Carmelite nuns live in cloistered (enclosed) monasteries and follow a completely contemplative life. The Carmelite friars while following a contemplative life also engage in the promotion of spirituality through their retreat centres, parishes and churches. Lay people, known as the Secular Order, follow their contemplative call in their everyday activities. Devotion to the Virgin Mary is a characteristic of Carmelites and is symbolised by wearing the brown scapular.[1]

Carmelites trace their roots and their name to Mount Carmel in the Holy Land. There, in the 13th century, a band of European men gathered together to live a simple life of prayer. Their first chapel was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. They called themselves the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel.[2]

The first Carmelites came as pilgrims to Mount Carmel to live a solitary life-style. These early hermits were mostly laity, who lived an unofficial religious life of poverty, penance and prayer. Between 1206 and 1214, St. Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem, brought the hermits on Mount Carmel together, at their request, into community. He wrote them a formula for living, which expressed their own intention and reflected the spirit of the pilgrimage to the Holy Land and of the early community of Jerusalem. They were also inspired by the prophet Elijah who had been associated with Mount Carmel. That influence can be seen by the words of Elijah, "I have been very zealous for the Lord, God of armies" (IKg 19:10) on the Carmelite crest. Within fifty years of receiving their rule the Carmelite hermits were forced to leave Mount Carmel and settled in Europe.[3]


Saint Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582), Doctor of the Church and co-founder of the Discalced Carmelites.

A combination of political and social conditions that prevailed in Europe in the fourteenth and fifteenth century- the Hundred Years' War, Black Plague, and rise of the Renaissance and Humanist revival- adversely affected the Order. Although Carmel itself contributed a number of gifted and respected humanists, the trend which started out as a good thing occasioned a general decline in religious fervor. This factor, coupled with the decimation of the population and severe economic hardships, had a demoralizing effect. Many Carmelites and even whole communities succumbed to contemporary attitudes and conditions diametrically opposed to their original vocation. To meet this situation the Rule was "mitigated" several times. Consequently, the Carmelites bore less and less resemblance to the first hermits of Mount Carmel.[4]

St. Teresa of Avila considered the surest way to prayer to be a return to the Primitive Rule embodying Carmel's authentic vocation. A group of nuns assembled in her cell one September evening in 1560, taking their inspiration from the primitive tradition of Carmel and the discalced reform of St. Peter of Alcantara, a controversial movement within Spanish Franciscanism, proposed the foundation of a monastery of an eremitical kind.

With little resources and often bitter opposition, St. Teresa succeeded in 1562 in establishing a small monastery with the austerity of desert solitude within the heart of the city of Ávila, Spain, combining eremitical and community life. On 24 August 1562, the new Convent of St. Joseph was founded. Her rule, which retained a distinctively Marian character, contained exacting prescriptions for a life of continual prayer, safeguarded by strict enclosure and sustained by the asceticism of solitude, manual labor, perpetual abstinence, fasting, and fraternal charity. In addition to this, St. Teresa envisioned an order fully dedicated to poverty.[4]

Working in close collaboration with St. Teresa was St. John of the Cross, who with Anthony of Jesus founded the first convent of Discalced Carmelite friars in Duruelo, Spain on 28 November 1568.[5]

The Discalced Carmelites were established as a separate province of the Carmelite Order by the decree "Pia consideratione"[6] of Pope Gregory XIII on 22 June 1580. By this decree the Discalced Carmelites were still subject to the Prior General of the Carmelite Order in Rome, but were otherwise distinct from the Carmelites in that they could elect their own superiors and author their own constitutions for their common life. The following Discalced Carmelite Chapter at Alcala de Henares, Spain in March 1581 established the constitutions of the Discalced Carmelites and elected the first provincial of the Discalced Carmelites, Fr. Jerome Gratian, OCD. This office was later translated into that of Superior General of the Discalced Carmelites.[7]

The Carmelite charism

Discalced Carmelites from Argentina
Two Discalced Carmelite nuns outside of their convent in Zarautz, the Basque Country
Monastery of Discalced Carmelites in Czerna, Poland

According to the Irish Province of the Order of Carmelites,[8] with regard to a religious order, the term charism refers to a characteristic which inspires the group and distinguishes it from other religious orders. The charism of each Christian religious family is the particular way in which its members are called to follow Christ. Since all Christians follow Christ, the charisms will have many elements in common, but the way in which these elements are emphasised gives each religious group its unique feel.

The heart of the Carmelite charism is prayer and contemplation. The quality of prayer determines the quality of the community life and the quality of the service which is offered to others. Prayer and contemplation for the Carmelite are not private matters between the individual and God but are to be shared with others since the charism is given for the whole world. Therefore, there is an emphasis in the order on the ministry of teaching prayer and giving spiritual direction.[8]

For a Carmelite, prayer is guided by the teachings and experience of St. Teresa of Ávila and St. John of the Cross, as well as the saints who have followed in their steps, such as St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, St. Teresa of the Andes, and martyrs like Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross), Père Jacques and the sixteen Martyrs of Compiegne.

Fraternity, service and contemplation are essential values for all Carmelites. The hermits were forced to leave their home on Mount Carmel and settle in Europe. There they changed their style of life from hermits to friars. The major difference is that friars are called to serve the People of God in some active apostolate. Some congregations were founded for a specific work, but the Carmelite Order tries to respond to what it sees as the needs of the Church and the world which differ according to time and place, and so many friars work in parishes, schools, universities, retreat centres, prisons and hospitals. The kind of service in which each individual friar is involved will depend on the perceived needs of the people in whose midst he lives and his own particular talents.[8]

Each day is marked by silence for prayer. In addition to the daily celebration of the full Liturgy of the Hours, two hours are set aside for uninterrupted silent prayer. Communities are kept fairly small. The friars practice a broadly-based discipline of study.


Living bishops (4 archbishops, 16 bishops)

Current bishops Former and actual episcopal see or assignment Current residency Date of birth
current age
Appointed to episcopacy
Anders Arborelius Sweden Bishop of Stockholm

Sweden Denmark Finland Iceland Norway President of Scandinavian Bishops Conference (2005–2015)

Sweden Stockholm, Sweden September 24, 1949 November 17, 1998
Pope John Paul II
Cástor Oswaldo Azuaje Pérez Venezuela Bishop of Trujillo

Venezuela Auxiliary Bishop of Maracaibo

Venezuela Trujillo, Venezuela October 19, 1951 June 30, 2007
Pope Benedict XVI
Silvio José Báez Ortega Nicaragua Auxiliary Bishop of Managua
Nicaragua Managua, Nicaragua April 28, 1958 April 9, 2009
Pope Benedict XVI
Philip Boyce Republic of Ireland Bishop of Raphoe
Republic of Ireland Letterkenny, Ireland January 25, 1940 June 29, 1995
Pope John Paul II
Peter Chung Soon-taek South Korea North Korea Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul
South Korea Seoul, South Korea August 2, 1961 December 30, 2013
Pope Francis
Paul Dahdah Lebanon Archbishop-Vicar Apostolic of Beirut

Iraq Archbishop of Baghdad

Lebanon Beirut, Lebanon June 8, 1941 May 30, 1983
Pope John Paul II
Brig. Gen. Gonzalo de Jesús María del Castillo Crespo Bolivia Military Bishop Emeritus of Bolivia

Bolivia Military Bishop of Bolivia

Bolivia Auxiliary Bishop of La Paz

Bolivia La Paz, Bolivia September 20, 1936 November 3, 1983
Pope John Paul II
Amancio Escapa Aparicio Dominican Republic Auxiliary Bishop of Santo Domingo
Dominican Republic Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic March 30, 1938 May 31, 1996
Pope John Paul II
Guy Étienne Germain Gaucher France Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Bayeux-Lisieux

France Auxiliary Bishop of Bayeux-Lisieux
France Bishop of Meaux

France Venasque, France March 5, 1930 August 27, 1986
Pope John Paul II
Gustavo Girón Higuita Colombia Bishop of Tumaco

Colombia Vicar Apostolic of Tumaco

Colombia Tumaco, Colombia May 20, 1940 February 8, 1990
Pope John Paul II
Gonzalo López Marañon Ecuador Vicar Apostolic Emeritus of San Miguel de Sucumbíos

Ecuador Vicar Apostolic of San Miguel de Sucumbíos

Ecuador Apostolic prefect of San Miguel de Sucumbíos

Ecuador Nueva Loja, Ecuador October 3, 1933 July 2, 1984
Pope John Paul II
Luis Alberto Luna Tobar Ecuador Archbishop Emeritus of Cuenca

Ecuador Metropolitan Archbishop of Cuenca
Ecuador Auxiliary Bishop of Quito

Ecuador Cuenca, Ecuador December 15, 1923 August 17, 1977
Pope Paul VI
Francis George Adeodatus Micallef Kuwait Vicar Apostolic Emeritus of Kuwait

Kuwait Vicar Apostolic of Kuwait

Malta Cospicua, Malta December 17, 1928 November 5, 1981
Pope John Paul II
Aníbal Nieto Guerra Ecuador Bishop of San Jacinto de Yaguachi

Ecuador Auxiliary Bishop of Guayaquil

Ecuador Yaguachi, Ecuador February 23, 1949 June 10, 2006
Pope Benedict XVI
Marie Fabien Raharilamboniaina Madagascar Bishop of Morondava
Madagascar Morondava, Madagascar January 20, 1968 February 26, 2010
Pope Benedict XVI
Braulio Sáez Garcia Bolivia Auxiliary Bishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra

Bolivia Bishop of Oruro
Bolivia Auxiliary Bishop of Oruro

Bolivia Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia March 23, 1942 February 18, 1987
Pope John Paul II
Rubens Sevilha Brazil Auxiliary Bishop of Vitória
Brazil Vitória, Brazil September 29, 1959 December 21, 1987
Pope Benedict XVI
Jean Benjamin Sleiman Iraq Archbishop of Baghdad
Iraq Baghdad, Iraq June 30, 1946 November 29, 2000
Pope John Paul II
Jusztin Nándor Takács Hungary Bishop Emeritus of Székesfehérvár

Hungary Bishop of Székesfehérvár
Hungary Coadjutor Bishop of Székesfehérvár
Hungary Auxiliary Bishop of Székesfehérvár

Hungary Székesfehérvár, Hungary January 15, 1927 December 23, 1988
Pope John Paul II
Rolando Joven Tria Tirona Philippines Metropolitan Archbishop of Caceres

Philippines Territorial Prelate of Infanta
Philippines Bishop of Malolos
Philippines Auxiliary Bishop of Manila

Philippines Naga, Philippines July 22, 1946 November 15, 1994
Pope John Paul II

Dead bishops (7 cardinals, 14 archbishops, 52 bishops)

Discalced Carmelite cardinals Episcopal see or assignment Date of birth and death Appointed to bishopric
Anastasio Alberto Ballestrero Italy Metropolitan Archbishop Emeritus of Turin

Italy Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria sopra Minerva
Italy Vatican City San Marino President of Italian Episcopal Conference
Italy Metropolitan Archbishop of Turin
Italy Metropolitan Archbishop of Bari-Canosa

October 3, 1913 June 21, 1998(1998-06-21) (aged 84) December 21, 1973
Pope Paul VI
Girolamo Maria Gotti Vatican City Prefect of Sacred Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith

Italy Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria della Scala pro hac vice Title
Vatican City Prefect of Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars
Vatican City Prefect of Prefect of Sacred Congregation of Induglences and Sacred Relics
Vatican City Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals
Brazil Apostolic Internuncio of Brazil

March 29, 1834 March 19, 1916(1916-03-19) (aged 81) March 22, 1892
Pope Leo XIII
Giovanni Antonio Guadagni
(Nephew of pope Pope Clement XII)
Italy Vicar General of His Holiness for the Diocese of Rome

Vatican City Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals
Vatican City Cardinal Vice-Dean of Sacred College of Cardinals
Italy Cardinal-Bishop of Porto-Santa Rufina
Italy Cardinal-Bishop of Frascati
Italy Cardinal-Priest of San Martino ai Monti
Italy Bishop of Arezzo

September 14, 1674 January 15, 1759(1759-01-15) (aged 84) December 20, 1724
Pope Benedict XIII
Daniel Acharuparambil India Metropolitan Archbishop of Verapoly

India Apostolic Administrator sede plena of Cochin

May 12, 1939 October 26, 2009(2009-10-26) (aged 70) June 14, 1996
Pope John Paul II
Antônio do Carmo Cheuiche Brazil Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Porto Alegre

Brazil Auxiliary Bishop of Porto Alegre
Brazil Auxiliary Bishop of Santa Maria

June 13, 1927 October 14, 2009(2009-10-14) (aged 82) April 2, 1969
Pope Paul VI
Paul Bassim Lebanon Vicar Apostolic Emeritus of Beirut

Lebanon Vicar Apostolic of Beirut

November 14, 1922 August 21, 2012(2012-08-21) (aged 89) September 8, 1974
Pope Paul VI

Communities of Carmelite tradition

See also


  1. "Who are the Discalced Carmelites?". Discalcedcarmelites.ie. Archived from the original on September 1, 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-29.
  2. "History", Discalced Carmelite Friars of the Carmelite-Arizona Province
  3. "Hermits on Mount Carmel". Carmelite.com. Retrieved 2013-11-29.
  4. 1 2 ocd. "Carmelite History -from the OCD General House in Rome". Ocd.pcn.net. Retrieved 2013-11-29.
  5. "History of Discalced Carmelites", Generalate of the Teresian Carmel
  6. Otilio Rodriguez, OCD, Appendix I: The Third Order of the Teresian Carmel; Its Origin and History, page 129, in Michael D. Griffin, OCD, Commentary on the Rule of Life (superseded) (The Growth in Carmel Series; Hubertus, Wisconsin: Teresian Charism Press, 1981), pages 127-36
  7. Peter-Thomas Rohrbach, OCDJourney to Carith: The Sources and Story of the Discalced Carmelites, Chapter 6: The Struggle for Existence, pages 200-1 (Washington: ICS Publications)
  8. 1 2 3 The Carmelite Charism -from the Irish Province Archived July 30, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.

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