Carmelite Chronicles
The Teresian Friars

March 19, 2013 |

If Teresa was to extend her reform, she would need friars to direct her nuns. According to St. Teresa, it was the bishop of Avila, Don Alonso de Mendoza, who first approached the general for a license to found in his diocese a few convents of “discalced friars of the Primitive Rule,” but Rossi put him off for the time being. After he had left Avila, Teresa herself wrote, making the same request and adducing as a motive “what a service it would be to Our Lady to whom he was most devoted.” Rossi could not refuse his daughter, when she appealed to his love of the Virgin.

Rossi’s patent is dated from Barcelona, August 10, 1567. Desirous that all friars and nuns of the Order be as “mirrors, lamps, burning torches and shining stars to light and guide wayfarers in this world and should speak with God in prayer and unite themselves to him in meditation,” the prior general acceded to the request to found “some houses of friars of our Order in which Mass will be said, divine office recited and chanted, prayers, meditations and other spiritual exercises engaged in, so that they be called and actually be houses or monasteries of contemplative Carmelites; the latter should also help their neighbor when occasion arises.” They are to observe “the old Constitutions” (Soreth’s, revised by Audet and Rossi himself) and be subject to the provincial, and Fray Angel de Salazar, prior of Avila, and are to receive two houses “of our profession, our obedience and our habit, in the form which will be specified and declared in our acts.”

The letters reflect a solemn appeal for unity, “for it is not our intention to give occasion to hellish quarrels, but to promote the perfection of Carmelite religious life.” The contemplative Carmelites are “to live perpetually united to the obedience of the province of Castile, and if at any time any friar under pretext of living in greater perfection should seek to separate himself from the province by the favor of princes and with briefs and other concessions of Rome, we pronounce and declare them men moved and tempted by the evil spirit, authors of seditions, quarrels, contentions and ambitions to the deceit and loss of their souls.”

Plainly, Rossi was captivated by his vivacious daughter and did everything in his power to smooth her way. Teresa on her part conceived for him a deep regard and warm affection that survived the storms of later misunderstandings. “He showed me very real and genuine kindness: whenever he could be free he would come here to talk of spiritual things, and, as he was one to whom the Lord must have granted great favors, it made us very happy to hear him on this subject.” It was with a sense of loss that St. Teresa bade him good-bye on his last visit. “I was very sorry when I saw our father general returning to Rome; I had conceived a great love for him and felt very much deserted when he left.”

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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