/kahr"meuh luyt'/, n.
1. a mendicant friar belonging to a religious order founded at Mt. Carmel, Palestine, in the 12th century; White Friar.
2. a nun belonging to this order.
3. of or pertaining to Carmelites or their order.
[1400-50; late ME < ML Carmelita, named after CARMEL, first seat of the order; see -ITE1]

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Mendicant order of the Roman Catholic church.

It originated с 1155 on Mount Carmel in Palestine, where a number of former pilgrims and crusaders began to live as hermits. Their rule was written by St. Albert, Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, and approved by Pope Honorius III in 1226. As Muslim incursions made Palestine increasingly unsafe, the Carmelites scattered to Cyprus, Sicily, France, and England. In England and Western Europe the order transformed itself from a group of hermits into one of mendicant friars. The first institution of Carmelite nuns was founded in 1452. St. Teresa of Ávila and St. John of the Cross reemphasized the strictness and austerity of Carmelite traditions, establishing Discalced (barefoot) Carmelite orders in 1562 and 1569, which gave rise to an independent order in 1593. Both the reformed and the original orders suffered greatly during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era, but they were later restored in most of Western Europe as well as in the Middle East, Latin America, and the U.S.

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▪ religious order
      member of one of the four great mendicant orders (those orders whose corporate as well as personal poverty made it necessary for them to beg for alms) of the Middle Ages. The origin of the order can be traced to Mt. Carmel (Carmel, Mount) in Palestine, where a number of devout men, apparently former pilgrims and crusaders, established themselves near the traditional fountain of Elijah, an Old Testament prophet, about 1155. Their rule was written between 1206 and 1214 by St. Albert, Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, and approved in 1226 by Pope Honorius III. The monks hoped to continue on Mt. Carmel the way of life of the prophet Elijah, whom early Christian writers depict as the founder of monasticism.

      The early Carmelites were hermits (hermit): they lived in separate cells or huts and observed vows of silence, seclusion, abstinence, and austerity. Soon, however, the losses of the crusading armies in Palestine made Mt. Carmel unsafe for the Western hermits, and they set out about 1240 for Cyprus, Sicily, France, and England. The first general chapter (legislative meeting) of the Carmelites was held in England in 1247 under St. Simon Stock, and the order was adapted to the conditions of the Western lands to which it had been transplanted: the order transformed itself from one of hermits into one of mendicant friars. In this form the Carmelites established themselves throughout western Europe, becoming popular as an order closely analogous to the Dominicans and Franciscans. The first institution of Carmelite nuns was founded in 1452.

      Of all the movements in the Carmelite order, by far the most important and far-reaching in its results was the reform initiated by St. Teresa of Ávila (Teresa of Ávila, Saint). After nearly 30 years in a Carmelite convent, she founded in 1562 in Ávila a small convent wherein a stricter way of life was to be observed. Teresa's order became the order of Discalced Carmelite Nuns (O.D.C.). In spite of opposition and difficulties of many kinds, St. Teresa succeeded in establishing not only convents but also, with the cooperation of Juan de Yepes (later St. John of the Cross (John of the Cross, Saint)), a number of friaries that followed this stricter observance. The aim of the reform was to restore and emphasize the austerity and contemplative character of primitive Carmelite life. Because Reformed Carmelites wore sandals in place of shoes and stockings, they came to be called the Discalced, or barefooted, Carmelites, to distinguish them from the older branch of the order. In 1580 the reformed monasteries were made a separate province under the prior general of the order, and in 1593 this province became by papal act an independent order.

      Both orders suffered severely from the French Revolution and from suppression by both Napoleon and the liberal governments of the 19th century, but they have since been restored in most countries of western Europe and in the Middle East, Latin America, and the United States. The original order (Order of Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel; White Friars; O.Carm.) is engaged primarily in preaching and teaching. The Discalced Carmelite Fathers (Order of Discalced Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel; O.C.D.) is active in parishes and in foreign missions, having become primarily a pastoral and devotional order. Both branches have been important promoters of Marian devotion. Besides the cloistered nuns, in recent times, numerous congregations of active sisterhoods, Third Order Carmelites, have been formed, devoted to teaching, care of the sick, and other charitable works.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Carmelite — Car mel*ite, Carmelin Car mel*in a. Of or pertaining to the order of Carmelites. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • Carmelite — c.1500, from L. Carmelites, member of an order of mendicant friars (White Friars) founded 12c. by Berthold of Calabria on Mount CARMEL (Cf. Carmel) in what is now northwest Israel …   Etymology dictionary

  • Carmelite — ► NOUN ▪ a friar or nun of an order founded at Mount Carmel in NW Israel during the Crusades (c.1154). ► ADJECTIVE ▪ relating to the Carmelites …   English terms dictionary

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  • Carmelite — A member of the order founded at Mount Carmel in Palestine in the early 13c and approved by the pope in 1226. A *mendicant order which was known as the White Friars; its first members, however, were mostly *her mits. The first Carmelite house in… …   Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases

  • Carmelite — noun Etymology: Middle English, from Medieval Latin carmelita, from Carmel Mount Carmel, Palestine Date: 15th century a member of the Roman Catholic mendicant Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel founded in the 12th century • Carmelite adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • carmélite — (kar mé li t ) s. f. Religieuse de l ordre des carmes déchaux. Les carmélites furent introduites en France en 1604. •   Vous aimeriez bien ma sobriété et l exercice que je fais, et sept heures au lit comme une carmélite ; cette vie dure me plaît …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • Carmelite — adj. Carmelite is used with these nouns: ↑convent …   Collocations dictionary

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