Carmelite Chronicles
Elijah, Founder of Religious Life

April 10, 2019 |

The site chosen fo the hermitage, the fountain of Elijah, is worthy of note, for it was to have a profound influence on the charism of the Order. The memory of the prophets Elijah and Elisha attached to various localities in the Palestine of the crusades is very striking. Among the places associated with Elijah is Mount Carmel. Hardly a pilgrim who passed this imposing land mass on the road from Acre to Jerusalem failed to inform his readers that this was the abode of the prophet Elijah. In the case of the hermits, Carmel had an added attraction in that Elijah was considered in patristic writings and in the eremitical literature of the times to be the model and founder of the solitary way of life.

No less an authority than St. Anthony declares that “the ascetic should model his life as in a mirror after the example of the great Elijah.”

“This way of life,” St. Peter Damian attests, “to go back to the earliest examples, was begun by Elijah in the Old Testament. Elisha increased the band of disciples and developed the way of life. In the New Testament, Paul and Anthony are considered their equivalents.”

The hermits of Carmel must certainly have been aware of the peculiar appropriateness of the place they chose. They must have been conscious of continuing the life Elijah had inaugurated in that very place.

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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