Carmelite Chronicles
The Discalced Friars at Duruelo

April 23, 2013 |

With her second foundation a reality, Teresa began to give serious thought to acquiring some contemplative friars. She mentioned her problem to the prior of Medina, Fray Anthony de Heredia, who offered to be the first to join her reform. She thought he was joking, but he told her that he had made up his mind to become a Carthusian. Teresa did not think he had “sufficient spirituality.” They agreed that he should undergo a year of trial.

Shortly afterwards St. Teresa was introduced to a young Carmelite studying at Salamanca, Fray John of St. Matthias. About him Teresa had no doubts and convinced him that he did not have to become a Carthusian to be a contemplative. “When I saw that I had two friars to make a beginning with,” she concludes, “the thing seemed to me settled, although I was still not quite satisfied with the prior.”

John de Yepes was born at Fontiveros, June 24, 1542. His father, Gonzalo de Yepes, came of a noble family, but he had been disowned when he married a girl beneath his rank, Catalina Alvarez. Gonzalo took up his wife’s trade of weaving, but died soon after John’s birth, after which Catalina was obliged to support her three sons by her own labor. In 1551, Catalina moved to Medina del Campo, a large town with better chances for finding work. There, in 1563, John entered the Carmelite convent of St. Anne, taking the name John of St. Matthias. The following year, he was sent to the Carmelite stadium at Salamanca and from 1564 to 1568 attended the famous university, then experiencing a period of flourishing activity. After Rossi’s visit to the college in 1567, John was ordained a priest.

In June of 1568, when St. Teresa was back at St. Joseph’s in Avila, a gentleman of that town, Don Raphael Mejía, offered her a small house he owned in Duruelo, a hamlet on the road to Medina del Campo. The provincial, Alonso González, granted permission for a foundation at Duruelo.

On November 28, 1568, the first convent of contemplative friars was formally opened. The provincial offered Mass and received the profession according to the Rule of 1247 of Anthony of Jesus (Heredia), John of the Cross and Joseph of Christ, a deacon and member of the convent of Medina. From the provincial, too, the friars received the discalced habit of rough undyed wool and discarded their shoes. Thus, Teresa, in spite of her misgivings about the province of Castile, ended by founding there the friars to initiate her ideal of Carmelite life.

At Duruelo, constitutions were already observed, which in revised form (1576) eventually became the constitutions of the Discalced Carmelites. Adapted from the legislation already observed by the nuns, they were drawn up at Medina del Campo by Teresa, John of the Cross, and Anthony of Jesus. Anthony sent a copy of the part concerning “the division of time” to the prior general for his approval.

In 1570, the community of Duruelo moved to Mancera de Abajo, a village about 3 miles away. The provincial and other friars of the province accompanied their barefooted brethren in solemn procession to Mancera on the feast of St. Barbara, June 11.

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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