Carmelites of High Observance

Families of monastic orders dedicated to the contemplative life

The cradle of the Carmelite Order is located on Mount Carmel, the garden of Palestine, which rises between the borders of Galilee and Samaria, in Israel.

In this place they settled in the s. XII some Holy Land Crusaders to lead the life of hermits.

From the first moment, the hermits did not recognize the title of the founder to anyone in particular, remaining faithful to the model of the Prophet Elijah, linked to Mount Carmel by the biblical episode of I Kings 17-22. From this Prophet they inherited the burning passion for the living and true God, which is reflected in the motto of the Order that accompanies their shield: Zelo zelatus sum pro Domino Deo Exercituum (“Zeal for your House devours me, Lord of the Armies”, 1 Kgs 19:14).

In the middle of the cells, they built an oratory that they dedicated to their Patroness, the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom they venerated as Our Lady of Mount Carmel. To Her, they transferred the attributes that were given to the founders.

Between 1206 and 1214 (traditionally established in 1209), the Holy Patriarch Albert of Jerusalem gave them a formula of life or Rule that summarizes the ideal of the Carmelite:

– Live in the gift of Jesus Christ and serve him with a pure heart and good conscience.

– Continuously meditate on the Law of the Lord.

– Celebrate the Sacred Liturgy together daily.

– Give up personal ownership of property.

– With the weapons that God offers, live in depth faith, hope and charity in following Christ through evangelical asceticism.

– Practice the communion of life in fraternal request under obedience to the Prior, religious observance, manual work and zeal for the salvation of souls.

– Cultivate prayer in solitude, silence and evangelical vigilance.

After the Saracen raids, the Carmelite Hermits left the Holy Land and arrived in Europe.

Since the year 1400, some pious women, in search of a deeper spirituality and perfection of life, wanted to adapt – under the guidance of the Carmelite friars – the spirit of Carmel and its Rule to their feminine condition. Thus, the Carmelite nuns were born in the year 1452, in Florence, where the first monastery was built: Saint Mary of the Angels (of which Santa María Magdalena de Pazzi was a nun).

Her life would be dedicated completely to meditation, the Divine Office, work and penance.

“The wife of Jesus Christ must be like the wise men of the world, who have hidden money. She must also amass in her heart the treasures of good works, hidden from men and open only to God. This is the safest way to store up for Heaven.” (Saint Mary Magdalene of Pazzi)

These Carmelites (called Old Observance to distinguish them from the Discalced) are present in Spain with 25 monasteries, and 48 in the rest of the world. As with the Discalced Carmelites, the observance and spirit varies from one monastery to another. For example, some still wear the traditional habit, while others have changed it. We highlight the following monasteries:

Carmelite Mothers

Monastery of the Mother of God
Carmen, 17
05310 Fontiveros (Avila)
Email: [email protected]

Carmelite Mothers

Monastery of Our Lady of Wonders
Prince of Vergara, 23
28001 Madrid
Email: [email protected]

Carmelite Mothers

Saint John the Baptist Monastery
Francisco Alcalá, 9
21860 Villalba del Alcor (Huelva)
Email: [email protected]


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