Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Carmelite Calendar

St Albert the Lawgiver, Patriarch of Jerusalem

Today is the feast of St Albert, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem who wrote the original Rule of the Carmelite Order. He himself was not a Carmelite but an Augustinian canon; yet he only appears in the Carmelite calendar, the Augustinians paying him no particular honour. He was stabbed to death on September 14, 1214 during a liturgical procession in Acre by the Master of the Hospital of the Holy Spirit whom he had dismissed for his licentious life. The old Catholic Encyclopædia tells his life here.

The original rule as written by St Albert is no longer extant; it only exists in the form modified by Pope Innocent IV in 1246. (The Catholic Encyclopæda calls it "mitigated". Perhaps a better description is "modified" so as to be better suited to the mendicant status the Order had in Europe as opposed to the eremitical life the brothers led in Palestine.) A copy in English of the text of the Rule of St Albert can be found here.

By the end of the century there would be no more Carmelites on Mount Carmel. On 30 July 1291 Haifa and Carmel were occupied by Mahometan troops. There is an account by William of Sandwich of the last days of the Order on Mount Carmel, although some warn that it is not contemporary and the buildings at the Wadi 'ain es-Siah are known to have been still standing years later. It is known that the monastery of St Margaret and of St Elias were destroyed so perhaps William conflated more than one account. In any event, he says "The Saracens completely devastated the city of Acre and the beautiful house of this Order [of the Carmelites] which was found there. From there they set out for the not distant Mount Carmel. This they climbed, destroyed the monastery of the Friars of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel with fire and put all the friars to the sword. These men met their deaths whilst singing the Salve Regina."

[Vide: "Carmel in the Holy Land", Silvano Giordano, O.C.D., ed., pp 61-62]