Great Carmelite Figures



Angel Prat i Hostench and 16 companionsIn 1936 seventeen Spanish members of various Carmelite communities gave their lives in defence of and in witness to their Christian faith and consecration to Jesus Christ.
On 28 July at the railway station in Tarrega, twelve religious belonging to the Tarrega community were arrested. They were moved to Clots dels Aubens di Cervera and were shot at dawn on 29 July while they called on Jesus’ name and that of the Mother of Carmel. These men were: Fr. Ángel Maria Prat Hostench, the prior, Fr. Eliseo Maria Maneus Besalduch, novice master, Fr. Anastasio Maria Dorca Coramina, from the community of Olot (Girona) who had been preaching at Tarrega for the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Fr. Eduardo Maria Serrano Buj, a professor. There were also philosophy students: Bros. Pedro Maria Ferrer Marin, Andrés Maria Solé Rovina, Juan Maria Puigmitjà Rubió, Miguel Maria. Soler Sala and Pedro–Tomás MariaPrat Colledecarrara and the lay brother Eliseo Maria Fontdecaba Quiroga, as well as the novices, Bros. Elías Maria Garre Egea and José Maria Escoto Ruíz.
During the night of 13 August in Vic, Barcelona, Sr. Mary of St. Joseph Badía Flaquer, an enclosed nun from the monastery of Vic, was arrested. She was killed the same night defending her chastity and witnessing to her consecration to Christ.
Bro. Eufrosino Maria Raga Nadal, a sub deacon and member of the community of Olot, was killed on 3 October.
Bros. Ludovico Maria Ayet Canós and Angel Maria Presta Batlle, Carmelites from the community of Terrassa (Barcelona) were arrested on 21 July and imprisoned in the Modelo jail in Barcelona. On 13 August they were shot in the cemetery in Terrassa.
The prior of the community of Olot, Fr. Fernando Maria Llobera Puigsech, was killed in the ditches of Santa Elena of Montjuic (Barcelona) after a summary trial, and for simply being a religious.
The process for the beatification of this group began in the diocese of Barcelona in September 1959. On 26 June 2006, the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, signed the decree for their beatification. On 28 October 2007 the were declared Blesseds among a group of 498 Spanish Martyrs of the 20th Century.


Angelus Mazzinghi The year of birth of Bl. Angelus Mazzinghi in Florence, Italy, or nearby, is unknown but it was certainly before 1386. He was received into the Order in 1413 and was the first member of the reform at Santa Maria delle Selve. He was prior there from 1419-30 and again in 1437, and in Florence from 1435-37. A lector in theology, he was particularly noted for his preaching of the word of God. He died in Florence in 1438. His cult, already practised in some places, was confirmed in 1761.


Archangela Girlani Eleanor Girlani, from Trino in Monferrato, Italy, was given the name Archangela when, with her sisters Maria and Frances, she took the Carmelite habit in the monastery of Parma in 1477. Later, she was to become prioress of the monastery and then prioress of the new foundation at Mantua from 1492 until her death in 1495. It is written in an old manuscript that Blessed Archangela lived her religious life so intensely that, just as the monastery was entitled "Saint Mary in Paradise", she and the other nuns, even though still here on earth, lived as if already absorbed into heaven. She was distinguished by a special devotion to the Holy Trinity. Her liturgical cult was approved by Pius IX in 1864.


Bartholomew Fanti A native of Mantua, Italy, he was a Carmelite in the Mantuan Congregation and already ordained priest by 1452. For 35 years in the Carmelite church of his city, he was the spiritual director and rector of the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for whom he wrote a rule and a set of statutes. Humble and gentle, he gave an example to everyone of a life of prayer, of generosity and of faithful service of the Lord. He was outstanding for his love of the Eucharist which was the centre of his apostolic life and for his devotion to Mary. He died in 1495.


Baptist Spagnoli Born in Mantua on 17th April 1447, Bl. Baptist's father was of Spanish origin and hence his surname. He entered the Carmelites in Ferrara and professed his religious vows in 1464. He was awarded a doctorate in theology in Bologna in 1475 and subsequently held a number of different positions in a succession of convents. Six times elected Vicar General for the Reformed Congregation (the Mantuan Reform), at the end of his life he was elected Prior General for the whole Order (1513-16).
His activities were not limited to the Carmelite Order. In 1513 he was invited to participate in the Lateran Council and, in 1515, he was entrusted by Pope Leo X with a diplomatic mission to negotiate a peace between the king of France and the duke of Milan. He was noted especially for his spirited and determined denunciations of the spreading corruption in society and he gave expression to his desire for reform with elegant literary appeals and a moving discourse in 1489 in St. Peter's Basilica before the Pope and the cardinals. All this, though, did not distract him from living a very interior life and having a special devotion to the Virgin Mary.
He was a friend of many of the famous humanists and illustrious figures of his age, becoming an important figure in the literary world. Proclaimed by Erasmus as the "Christian Virgil" (he wrote with more than 50,000 Latin verses, besides other works of prose), he must be judged as one of the best poets of his time, a claim which is well attested by the numerous editions of his works.
He died in Mantua on 20th March 1516 and his incorrupt body is preserved in the Cathedral there. The cult of Blessed Baptist was approved by Pope Leo XIII on 17th December 1885 and his memorial day is celebrated on 17th April.


Candelaria de San JoséShe was born Susana Paz-Castillo Ramírez in 1863. She enthusiastically welcomed the call of God to holiness, and since her youth, stood out in practicing living and effective charity, with which she cared for, consoled and healed the sick and wounded that strife had left on the streets of her birth city. Encouraged by Father Sixto Sosa, later bishop of Cumana, she consecrated herself to the service of the sick of San Antonio Hospital, founded in 1903.

Later, she began the foundation of a new religious congregation, dedicated to serving the poor. The congregation was definitively established in 1910 with the name "Congregation of the Sisters of the Poor of Altagracia de Orituco." Afterward, the congregation was affiliated to the Carmelite Order, and was called the Third Order of Regular Carmelites. Today they are known as the Venezuelan Carmelite Sisters or Carmelites of Mother Candelaria.

With great tenacity and enthusiasm, in spite of the economic straits of the congregation, and the general scarcity of resources, Mother Candelaria performed a widespread, attentive labour to those wounded by wars and the poorest sick people, showing a great trust in Divine Providence, and an intense love for the most needy.

Because of her ardent love for God and her generous and selfless surrender to the poor, under the direction of the bishops and in the company of the religious of her congregation, this new Venezuelan blessed is today an example of virtues, standing out among them, her living and intense faith in Jesus Christ, our only saviour; her union with and love for the Church, particularly the Venezuelan bishops, and her lively charity for the poorest.

The beatification of Mother Candelaria of St. Joseph took place on April 27, 2008, in Caracas, Venezuela.


Cyriac Elias Chavara Cyriac, co-founder and first Prior General of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, was born in Kerala in India, on 10th February 1805. He entered the diocesan seminary in 1818 and was ordained priest in 1829. He began the first house of the Congregation at Mannanam in 1831 and made his religious vows in 1855. In 1866, he was instrumental in the foundation of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Mother of Carmel. In 1861, he was appointed Vicar-General for the Syro-Malabaric Church. A great defender of the unity of the Church against the schism initiated by Rocco, he laboured, his entire life, for the spiritual renewal of the Syro-Malabaric Church. He was outstanding as a man of prayer, full of zeal for Our Lord as present in the Eucharist and possessing a particular devotion to the Immaculate Virgin. He died at Koonammavu in 1871. In 1899 his remains were transferred to Mannanam.


Denis of the Nativity and Redemptus of the CrossDenis was born at Hornfleur in France on 12th December 1600. He served as a cartographer and naval captain for the kings of France and Portugal, but in 1635 he became a Discalced Carmelite in Goa, India. Some years earlier, in 1615, the Portuguese, Thomas Rodriguez de Cunha (born in 1598) had made his own profession as a lay brother in the same house, taking the name in religion of Redemptus of the Cross. The two of them were sent to the island of Sumatra in Indonesia and there, on 29th November 1638, they were martyred near the city of Achen, giving the ultimate witness to their faith in Christ. They were beatified by Pope Leo XIII on 10th June 1900.


Elizabeth of the Trinity Elizabeth Catez was born on 18th July 1880 in Campo d'Avor near Bourges, France, and she was baptized four days later. In 1887, her family moved to Dijon where her father died the same year. On 19th April 1890, she made her First Communion and the following year, she was confirmed. In 1894, she took a vow of virginity. Feeling called to enter the religious life, she asked permission of her mother to enter Carmel but she received a firm refusal, and her mother only finally gave way on condition that Elizabeth waited until she was older. On 2nd August 1901, she entered the Carmel at Dijon where she was clothed in the habit on 8th December 1901. She made her religious profession on 11th January 1903 and 21st January the same year she was given the monastic veil. The five years that she spent in religious life brought her ever closer to God although the Lord tested her with many spiritual trials and severe physical suffering due to Addison's disease which finally brought about her death on 9th November 1906.


Frances d'Amboise Bl. Frances D'Amboise was born in 1427, probably at Thouars, France. At fifteen years of age, she was married to Peter II, Duke of Brittany and crowned with him in the cathedral at Rennes in 1450. She was widowed in 1457 and, not wanting a second marriage, she turned towards religious life. For this purpose, she built a Carmel for sisters at Bondon in 1463 following the advice of Blessed John Soreth, Prior General of the Carmelites. However, she herself only entered the monastery in 1468. In 1477 she transferred to the monastery at Nantes, another of her foundations. The records show that, as prioress, she had a strong personality but coupled with a motherly understanding and considerable psychological awareness. Some of the inspired spiritual direction which she gave to her sisters has been preserved. To her is due the introduction of frequent communion (daily for those who were sick) and the fourth vow of strict enclosure. She died on 4th November 1485 and her last testament was the phrase which she had said most often during her life: "In everything, do that which will make God loved the more!" Her cult was approved in 1863 by Pope Pius IX, as a recognition of the faithfulness of the Bretons to the Catholic Church and to their duchess. She is considered the foundress of the Carmelite nuns of France. She was beatified by Pope Pius IX in 1866.


Francis of Jesus Mary JosephFrancis Palau y Quer was born on 29th December 1811 at Aytona in Spain. In 1828, he entered the seminary in Lírida. In 1832, after having completed three years of philosophy and the first year of theology, he joined the Discalced Carmelites and made his religious vows the following year. Forced by the political circumstances of the time to live as a secular, he was nevertheless ordained priest at Barbastro in 1836. After a long stay in France from 1840 to 1851, he returned to Spain and gave himself to the apostolate of preaching and missions to lay Christians, especially in Barcelona and the Balnearic Islands. During 1860 and 1861, he began organising various groups of women which later became the present-day Teresian Missionary Carmelite Sisters and the Missionary Carmelite Sisters. He was also the founder of the Brothers of Charity, nowadays no longer in existence. He died at Tarragona on 20th March 1872.


Hilary Januszewski Hilary Januszewski was born on 11 June 1907 in Krajenki (Poland) and was given the name of Pawel. He received a Christian education from his parents, Martin and Marianne. He attended the college in Greblin (where his family lived from 1915), and then continued his studies at the Institute of Suchary, but had to abandon these due to economic difficulties of the family. Meanwhile his family went to Cracow where he took up other studies and in 1927 entered the Order of Carmel. He completed his noviciate in Leopoli and on 30 December 1928 made his simple profession. At the end of his philosophical studies in Cracow he was sent to Collegio Internazionale Sant'Alberto, Rome. He was ordained priest on 15 July 1934. He obtained his lectorate in theology and the prize for the best students of the Roman Academy of St. Thomas and in 1935 returned to Poland to the monastery in Cracow.
On his return to Poland he was appointed professor of Dogmatic Theology and Church History at the institute of the Polish Province in Cracow. On 1 November 1939, Fr. Eliseus Sánchez-Paredes, Provincial, appointed him prior of the community. At that time, Poland had already been occupied by the Germans a few weeks earlier. One year later, the invaders decreed the arrest of many religious and priests. On 18 September 1940 the gestapo deported four friars from the Carmel in Cracow. In December, when other friars were arrested, Fr. Hilary decided to present himself in exchange for an older and sick friar. From that day his Calvary began. He was sent to the prison of Montelupi (Cracow), then to the concentration camp of Sachsenchausen and in April 1941 to the concentration camp of Dachau. There he was a model of prayer life, encouraging others and giving hope for a better tomorrow. Together with the other Carmelites, among whom was Blessed Titus Brandsma, they often joined in prayer.
Meanwhile in barrack 25 of the concentration camp, typhus was spreading. To help the sick, 32 priests presented themselves to the authorities. A couple of days later, Fr. Hilary Januszewski spontaneously joined the group. His apostolate lasted 21 days because, infected by typhus, he died on 25 March 1945, a few days before the liberation of the concentration camp. His body was cremated in the crematorium of Dachau.
Fr. Hilary Januszewski was beatified by John Paul II on 13 June 1999, during his apostolic visit to Warsaw (Poland). On this occasion the Pope beatified 108 Polish martyrs of the Second World War, victims of Nazi persecution.


Isidore Bakanja Bl. Isidore Bakanja, a member of the Boangi tribe, was born in Bokendela (Congo) between 1880 and 1890. In order to survive, even as a boy, he had to work as bricklayer or in farms. He was converted to Christianity in 1906. He was working in a plantation run by a colonialist in Ikili and was forbidden by the owner to spread Christianity among his fellow-workers. On 22 April 1909, the superintendent of the business tore off the Carmelite Scapular, which Isidore was wearing as an expression of his Christian faith, and had him severely beaten even to drawing blood. He died on 15 August of the same year as a result of the wounds inflicted in "punishment" for his faith and which he bore patiently while forgiving his aggressor. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 24 April 1994.


Jane Scopelli Born in Reggio Emilia, Italy, in 1428, Bl. Jane Scopelli began her religious life at home living as a Carmelite mantellata (member of a Carmelite lay confraternity, wearing the white cloak or mantella). In 1480, after the death of her parents, she formed a community with a number of other like-minded women. A few years later, in 1485, she acquired the house and the church belonging to the Humiliate in Reggio Emilia which she converted into a monastery. The nuns became known locally as "The White Nuns". The new community was affiliated to the Reformed Congregation of Mantua. Blessed Jane held the position of prioress in the community which grew to number twenty nuns. Many supernatural events were attributed to her and she was gifted with a great devotion to Our Lady, while living an intensely penitential life. She died on 9th July 1491 and her liturgical cult was approved by Pope Clement XIV in 1771.


John Soreth John Soreth was born near Caen in Normandy in 1394 and entered the Carmelite house there. Ordained priest around 1417, he became a doctor of theology in Paris in 1438 and then regent of studies there. He was Provincial of the French Province from 1440-1451 and Prior General of the Order from 1451 until his death.
He was unflagging in his efforts at renewal, during what was an especially critical period for both the Church and the Order. He dedicated himself entirely to the reform of the Order, travelling across Europe, making canonical visitations and promoting a more faithful observance of religious life both in the older Provinces and convents and in the Mantuan Reformed Congregation. He wrote a commentary on the Rule, his Expositio paranetica, and published new revised Constitutions in 1462. Among his other activities was the encouragement and establishment of the Carmelite nuns, especially following the papal bull "Cum Nulla" of Nicholas V issued in 1452. In particular, he supported the foundations in Northern Europe made by Blessed Frances d'Amboise, whom he himself clothed in the Carmelite habit. In addition - as a result of the same papal bull - he was instrumental in the development of the Lay Carmelite Third Order.
He died at Angers on the 25th July 1471 and the Carmelite, Baptist Spagnoli, the famous humanist, wrote an elegy for him. He is called blessed and his cult was officially recognised by Pope Pius IX in 1866. His feast is celebrated on 24th July.


Jacques Retouret Bl. Jacques Retouret was born at Limoges in France on 15th September 1746 to a merchant family. He was a serious young man, a lover of books and greatly gifted. At fifteen years of age, he entered the Carmelite house in his native city. After ordination, his zeal and learning were widely admired and large crowds of people were attracted by his way of preaching. Unfortunately, he was often unable to fulfil all his engagements, due to his persistent bad health which plagued him throughout his life.
The French Revolution did not spare him. Like the majority of his fellow clergy, Jacques refused to accept the civil law, unilaterally introduced by the state, which decreed, among other things, the election of bishops and parish priests by the people, only afterwards to be approved by the hierarchy and the pope. In addition to this refusal, Jacques was accused of siding with a group of political emigres who had invaded the country against the revolutionaries. He was arrested and condemned, together with many other priests and religious, and sentenced to exile in French Guinea in South America. Taken to Rochefort, he was held there in a prison ship. The British navy, at this time, was blockading the French coast and so preventing the departure of the prison ships. The conditions for the prisoners were beyond description: they were crowded together, hungry, plagued by sickness, and suffered from either the heat or the cold in overpowering smells, and persecuted by their gaolers.
Jacques died at Madame Isle, some miles distant from Rochefort, on 26th August 1794 at the age of 48 years. He was beatified, together with 63 other priests and religious, as martyrs for the faith, on 1st October 1995 by Pope John Paul II.


Aloysius Rabatà Born at Erice, near Trapani, Sicily, probably in 1443, Bl. Aloysius Rabatà entered the Order of Carmel at the Annunziata convent in Trapani at an early age. He was appointed prior of the reformed house of Randazzo where he died in 1490. According to tradition, he was mortally wounded in the head by an arrow after having denounced the extravagant dress of a local lord. Aloysius pardoned his attacker but refused to reveal his name.


Maria Crocifissa CurcioMother M. Crocifissa Curcio was born on 30 January 1877 in Ispica (Rg), Italy. From the time of her adolescence she realised that she was called to follow Christ in a radical manner, Christ whose loving Mother of Carmel was entrusting her with the task of making Carmel flourish once more in her town as well as in others. Like all saints, in order to make this plan come true, Mother Crocifissa went through innumerable trials and sufferings for many years, even to the time of her providential encounter with a Carmelite, Fr. Lorenzo van den Eerenbeemt, who allowed her to start a small missionary Carmel in Santa Marinella in the diocese of Porto San Rufina (Rome). At her death, on 4 July 1957, the Congregation founded by her for the care of the poor and the needy, was already present in many parts of Italy, in Brazil and Malta. Later, the Carmelite missionaries spread to other continents and started communities in Canada, Tanzania, the Philippines and Romania.
She was beatified on the 13th November 2005.


Maria Teresa ScrilliMaria Teresa Scrilli (1825-1889) founded the Congregation at Montevarchi (Arezzo) on October 15, 1854, with the approval of the Bishop of Fiesole, Bishop Francesco Bronzuoli, the superiors of the Order, and with the agreement of the Grand Duke Leopold II. In 1860, with the fall of the Duchy of Tuscany and the unity of Italy, the Congregation was suppressed. The foundress, secure she was doing the will of God, moved to Florence and, in 1875, refounded the community. Since then, the Institute has developed so that its branches now extend beyond Italy. Currently the sisters are present in the United States, Canada, Poland, India, Brazil and the Czech Republic. The Congregation was affiliated to the Carmelite Order on March 31, 1929.
Mother Maria Teresa was profoundly connected to Carmelite spirituality which she knew, since childhood, from her reading of St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi. The spirit of contemplation, total abandonment to the will of God, and deep union with the Lord were the characteristics of her spiritual life. Her prayer added the aspect of reparation for offences inflicted on God, of praise, of joy in Him, of profound union, of faith. The "pure love" for God pushes one to the generous offering of oneself to others, "to leave God for God," even to the point of making a fourth vow: "to give oneself over to neighbour by means of both Christian and civil moral instruction."
She was
beatified in Fiesole (Florence) on October 8, 2006.


Mary of Jesus Crucified Mariam Baouardy was born at Abellin in Galilee on 5th January 1846 to very poor parents who were good living and devoted Greek-rite Catholics. She was left an orphan after the death of her parents at only three years of age when, together with her brother Paul, she was entrusted to the care of an uncle, who had moved to Alexandria in Egypt a few years earlier. She never received any formal education and remained unable to read. At thirteen years of age, wanting to give herself only to God, she firmly refused the marriage which her uncle, according to the Eastern custom, had arranged for her. The next few years, she worked as a domestic in Alexandria, Jerusalem, Beirut and Marseilles. At the beginning of Lent in 1865, she joined the Sisters of Compassion, but falling ill, she was forced to leave after a couple of months. Then she was received into the Institute of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Apparition but, after two years as a postulant, she was judged not to be suited for the cloistered life. Finally, on 14th June 1867, she entered the Carmel in Pau. On 21st August 1870, whilst still a novice, she left for India to join a new Carmel to be founded at Mangalore. On 21st November 1871, she made her religious profession there. One year later, she was recalled to Pau, from where she left as part of a new foundation, the first Carmel in Palestine. She died on 26th August 1878 at Bethlehem from a cancer which she had contracted after a fracture caused by a fall. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 13th November 1983.


Nuno Alvares PereiraNuno Alvares Pereira, founder of the house of Braganza, was born in Cernache do Bonjardim, Portugal, on 24th July 1360. As Constable of the Kingdom of Portugal, he was the general who led the successful war of independence against Spain. He became a national hero and his deeds were commemorated by L. Camoes in the Lustiadas. Following the death of his wife, he joined the Carmelites in 1423 in Lisbon, in the house which he himself had founded for the Carmelites. He asked to become a simple lay brother and took the name of Brother Nuno of Saint Mary. He died in the convent on Easter Sunday, 1st April 1431, having given throughout his life a witness of prayer, penitence, love of the poor and filial devotion to our Lady. His cult was approved in 1918.


Teresa of St. Augustine and companions These were a community of sixteen Discalced Carmelite nuns from the monastery of the Incarnation at Compiégne in France. When the full terror of the French Revolution began, they offered themselves as sacrificial victims to beg God for peace for the Church and for their country. Arrested and imprisoned on the 24th June 1794, they continued to share their joy and their faith with others. Condemned to death for their loyalty to the Church, to their religious vows and for their devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, they were guillotined in Paris on 17th July 1794 whilst singing hymns and after having renewed their vows to their prioress, Teresa of St. Augustine. They were beatified by Saint Pius X on 13th May 1906.


Titus Brandsma Born in the Frisian city of Bolsward, Holland, in 1881, Bl. Titus Brandsma joined the Carmelites while still young and was ordained priest in 1905. He undertook further studies in Rome and was awarded a doctorate in philosophy at the Gregorian Pontifical University. Returning to Holland, he taught in a number of schools before taking up a post as Professor of Philosophy and the History of Mysticism at the Catholic University of Nijmegen where he was later appointed Rector Magnificus. A noted writer and journalist, in 1935, he was appointed adviser to the bishops, for Catholic journalists. He was noted for being ready to receive anyone in difficulty and to help in whatever way he could. In the period leading up to and during the Nazi occupation in Holland, he argued passionately against the National Socialist ideology, basing his stand on the Gospels, and he defended the right to freedom in education and for the Catholic Press. As a result, he was imprisoned. So began his Calvary, involving great personal suffering and degradation whilst, at the same time, he himself brought solace and comfort to the other internees and begged God's blessing on his jailers. In the midst of such inhuman suffering, he possessed the precious ability to bring an awareness of goodness, love and peace. He passed from one prison or camp to another until he arrived in Dachau where he was killed on 26th July 1942. He was beatified as a martyr by Pope John Paul II on 3rd November 1985.

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Last revised: 6 May 2008