Carmelite Chronicles
The Mitigation of the Rule, 1247

May 30, 2012 |

Only a decade after a portion of the Carmelites had fled to Europe, we find them considering a modification of their formula vitae. This document, drawn up for a single hermitage, no longer suited their worldwide circumstances. The first foundations had indeed been made in remote places, but we soon see the hermits settling in more populated areas. This involved, too, a more cenobitical lifestyle. In
1247, accordingly, the Carmelites sent envoys to Pope Innocent IV, then residing at Lyons, requesting “that he deign to clarify and correct certain doubts and mitigate certain severities” in the Rule of St. Albert. The pope charged Cardinal Hugh of St. Cher and William, Bishop of Anterados (Tartous), both Dominicans, with the task and upon its completion, on October 1, 1247, issued his letter, Quae honorem, modifying the Carmelite Rule.

The early Carmelites recieve the Rule from St. Albert

The most notable changes are: foundations need no longer be made in desert places only, meals are to be taken in common, the recitation of the canonical office is imposed, the time of silence is confined between compline and prime, the abstinence is mitigated in favor of those travelling and begging their way.

The revision of the Rule of 1247 is sometimes said to have made an active order of the Carmelites, but the obligation to remain in the cell and pray, together with other eremitical elements, remains in force. Only in the 15th century did the
Carmelites cease to be hermits, though in theory, not in practice.

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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