Carmelite Saints

Saint John of the Cross

Saint John of the Cross

The father of St. John was discarded by his kindred for marrying a poor orphan, and the Saint, thus born and nurtured in poverty, chose it also for his portion. Unable to learn a trade, he became the servant of the poor in the hospital of Medina, while still pursuing his sacred studies. In 1563, being then twenty-one, he humbly offered himself as a lay-brother to the Carmelite friars, who, however, knowing his talents, had him ordained priest. He would now have exchanged to the severe Carthusian Order, had not St. Teresa, with the instinct of a Saint, persuaded him to remain and help her in the reform of his own Order. Thus he became the first prior of the Barefooted Carmelites. His reform, though approved by the general, was rejected by the elder friars, who condemned the Saint as a fugitive and apostate, and cast him into prison, whence he only escaped, after nine months’ suffering, at the risk of his life. Twice again, before his death, he was shamefully persecuted by his brethren, and publicly disgraced. But his complete abandonment by creatures only deepened his interior peace and devout longing for heaven.

-From Lives of the Saints by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. edition (1894).

Saint Therese of Lisieux

Saint Therese of Lisieux

Within a few years after her death in 1897 at 24, Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, had developed a world wide following. Her “little way” particularly appealed to the ordinary person as she advocated simplicity and performing daily tasks and small things with  love, trust and complete surrender. It was at the command of her superiors that her autobiography “The Story of a Soul” was written even as she was critically ill. Within a short time after her death it became an inspiration to many.  Her sensitivity and early experiences  were transformed into opportunities for spiritual growth.  She joined her sisters at age 15. Her keen psychological insight, unswerving love of God, and passion for souls were qualities valued in her role as assistant novice mistress. The first symptoms of her Tuberculosis developed in 1895-96 By late spring 1897 she had been moved to the infirmary and died on Sept. 30th. Her “Little Way,” of bearing imperfections, aspiring to holiness, trusting in God and being carried in the arms of God’s love has influenced the people throughout the world.

Saint Teresa of Avila

Saint Teresa of Avila

When a child of seven years, Teresa ran away from her home at Avila in Spain, in the hope of being martyred by the Moors. Being brought back and asked the reason of her flight, she replied, “I want to see God, and I must die before I can see Him.” She then began with her brother to build a hermitage in the garden, and was often heard repeating “Forever, forever” Some years later she became a Carmelite nun. Frivolous conversations checked her progress towards perfection, but at last, in her thirty-first year, she gave herself wholly to God. A vision showed her the very place in hell to which her own light faults would have led her, and she lived ever after in the deepest distrust of self. She was called to reform her Order, favored with distinct commands from Our Lord, and her heart was pierced with divine love; but she dreaded nothing so much as delusion, and to the last acted only under obedience to her confessors, which both made her strong and kept her safe. She died on October 4, 1582.

-From Lives of the Saints by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. edition (1894).