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RG 08: Devotional Life of Baltimore Carmel, 1790-1960 (DEV)

 Record Group
Identifier: RG 08-GAMMS.7

Scope and Contents

The devotional life of Carmel developed along three parallel lines: one followed the path of the liturgical cycle of the church year; the second reflected the particular charism of the order and revolved around the feasts of the great saints, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross; and the third gave witness to the centrality of the person of Jesus Christ in the daily lives of the Carmelite nuns. In each case the sisters sought, either through communal or private exercises, to pray for themselves and for their church according to the special devotions of the season.

Praying the Divine Office allowed each sister the opportunity to pray with and for the Church universal. Besides this communal prayer, they also assumed the responsibility of praying individually, even though within the framework of community prayer. This was done by the drawing of "billets" or prayer assignments, the purpose of which was to help each member better prepare for upcoming feasts or liturgical celebration. Preserved in the archives are billets first used at Port Tobacco as well as others developed in later years. Although all feasts were celebrated with great ceremony, the one cycle most honored was Christmas time; during that season, the infant Jesus became the focus of devotion, song, poetry, and even recreation.

The sisters' devotion was also manifested through prayers that especially revolved around the humanity of Jesus, such as devotion to the Sacred Heart and to the Holy Face, as well as prayers related to the intercessory powers of His Mother, or the inspiration given by their "Holy Mother" Teresa or the mystical John of the Cross. Devotion to the Sacred Heart and in honor of the Holy Face are especially evident; devotedness to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and to the Scapular she presents, as well as honoring the sons and daughters of Mt. Carmel, became another means of reaching out to God as Carmelites.

Much of the devotional life of the Sisters was accomplished without the need of pictorial images, statuary, or graphic display. Still, some religious art was significant. A few examples of this have been preserved. Thus, five pictures, representing the sorrowful mysteries and used as stations of the cross for Good Friday, can be found in this collection. A few precious devotional cards, probably first used at Hoogstraet or Antwerp and found in some of the books predating their American foundation, have also been retained. Other materials reflect the Sisters' residence at the monasteries at Port Tobacco, Aisquith or Biddle Street communities and appear more specifically connected to the activities of these monasteries themselves.

Arranged topically.

Dates

  • 1650-1960
  • Majority of material found in 1790-1960

Extent

3.5 linear feet

Organization of the Collection

This collection is organized into series:
  1. Series 1, Series 1: Billets, Liturgical Year, Devotion to Our Lady
  2. Series 2, Series 2: Christmas Billets, Devotion
  3. Series 3, Series 3: Devotion to the Sacred Heart
  4. Series 4, Series 4: Holy Face Devotion
  5. Series 5, Series 5: Scapular Devotion
  6. Series 6, Series 6: Devotions regarding Teresa and John of the Cross
  7. Series 7, Series 7: St. Therese of Lisieux Devotion
  8. Series 8, Series 8: Pictorial and Devotional

Repository Details

Part of the Archives of the Carmelite Monastery of Baltimore Repository

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