Carmelite Chronicles
The General Councils

October 9, 2019 |

During the 15th century, the life of the Order was intimately linked to the frequent general councils attended by the major superiors and the best talent of the Order. The religious trends of the time find echoes in the Order: the desire of autonomy, the desperate sense of the need for reform and the inability to effect it.

There is no record that the prior general, John Grossi, attended the Council of Pavia-Sienna (1423-1424). In his declining years, he seems to have been confined to his native southern France, but he sent Thomas Netter. Other English and Italian theologians are also known to have been present.

Grossi’s successors, Bartholomew Roqual, Natale Bencesi, and John Facy attended the Council of Basle-Ferrara-Florence (1431-1445), in which papal supremacy eventually triumphed over conciliarism. Noteworthy among Carmelite theologians at the council are John Kenynghale, who features in the debate with the Hussites, Jerome of Castellaccio, and Giles of Byedborch.

Basle wrote another chapter in the perennial mendicant-secular debate. The opponent of the mendicants, Philip Norris, canon of the cathedral of Dublin, was condemned for his doctrines by Eugene IV. This phase of the quarrel climaxed in the Mare magnum (1476) of Sixtus IV, former Conventual Franciscan, which excessively extended the mendicant privileges. It was unsuccessfully attacked by the bishops at the 5th Lateran Council (1512-1517). In 1516, Leo X attenuated the more extreme privileges of the mendicants.

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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