The First Carmelites


In the twelfth century, Crusaders and pilgrims from the West came to the Holy Land, and some of them stayed to  become hermits dedicated to a life of prayer.  A group of them settled on the slope of Mt. Carmel, and  asked the Albert, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, to write a rule for them.  The key passage in it is “Stay in your cell, meditating on the law of the Lord, unless otherwise engaged in a just occupation.”  That means that they would sometimes leave their cells in order to share the fruits of comptemplation with others. They were the first apostolic hermits, and this apostolic dimension has always been part of the Carmelite charism. 

Carmelites are first of all men and women of prayer, but they pass on what they learn about finding God through writing and preaching.  At Holy Hill, we believe that contemplation is caught, not taught, and so we try to create an atmosphere where people can easily catch the spirit of silence and explore their own interior castle.