Carmelite Chronicles
Blessed John Soreth (c.1395-1471)

November 14, 2019 |

The general chapter of 1451 elected Blessed John Soreth, one of the great priors general in the history of the Order.

Born in Caen around 1395, he entered the Order there and went on to study at the University of Paris. From 1440 until his election as prior general, he was provincial of Francia. He was one of those persons in the 15th century alive to the need for renewal in the Church.

Through him, Carmel joined the general movement of reform in religious Orders and society.

Soreth’s design for the renewal of the Order was twofold: where he found good will he established fully reformed houses; elsewhere, he tried to eliminate abuses and raise then standard of observance.

He appointed a vicar to head the movement already in progress in Mors and Enghien and with their priors to draw up statutes for his reform. These were promulgated at the general chapter in Paris in 1456 and confirmed by Pope Callixtus III the following year, thus acquiring the name, “Callixtine,” as distinct from the “Eugenian,” or Mantuan Reform.

In a solemn ceremony which inaugurated the reform of a convent, members renounced temporal goods, privileges, and exemptions. All ate at the common table. Visiting both in and outside the convent was restricted. Sufficiently mature candidates underwent a term of postulancy. Reformed convents could elect their own priors, provincials could not remove or add members to such convents without their consent.

Soreth met with his greatest success in the Lower German province (Belgium, Holland, The Rhineland). Information on other provinces is lacking, but his reform is known to have made some conquests in the provinces of Upper Germany, Francia, and Sicily. A product of the reform in Sicily is Bl. Aloysius Rabata.

From The Mirror of Carmel by Joachim Smet, O. Carm.

Fr. Joachim Smet O.Carm.
Fr. Joachim Smet, O.Carm. (1915-2011) was one of the leading historians of the Carmelite Order. In addition to being a founding member and President of the Institutum Carmelitanum in Rome and editor of Carmelus, a journal of Carmelite Studies, Fr. Joachim was a gifted writer. he is well-known for his four-volume work The Carmelites and his Life of Saint Peter Thomas. Among his other works: Familiar Matter of Today-Poems (2007), The Mirror of Carmel: A Brief History of the Carmelite Order, (2011), various publications on Carmelite Nuns, Carmelite Liturgy, Carmelite Libraries of Spain and Portugal and the Carmelites of Medieval England.
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