"With zeal am I zealous for the Lord God of hosts"
1 Kings 19:14

The First Carmelites

The first Carmelites were hermits who settled in caves or built stone huts on Mount Carmel in the last decades of the twelth century. They would have been soldiers who remained after the Crusades, or travellers, penitents and pilgrims who were seeking a Christian way of life closer to the Gospel ideal. They were probably poor and would have depended on local help for their basic needs.

This group was not at first organized, but between 1206 and 1214 the Patriarch of Jerusalem, at their request, set down in a Rule the way of life that they had been living.

The times were tumultuous and the Saracens were gradually driving Christian settlers from the Holy Land. The hermits from Mt. Carmel left for England and many parts of Europe until, some hundred years after their arrival, there were no "Carmelites" left on the mountain. So powerful was the tradition established there that it survived wherever the hermits settled, and those who follow the Rule today live "in allegiance to Jesus Christ" in the same spirit as did their brothers eight hundred years ago.