After a two-year hiatus due to COVID, the novena to our Lady of Mount Carmel will take place in Santa Fe from July 7 through 16th. Since 1945, the faithful have flocked to the monastery for nine days of contemplative prayer. The novena will culminate on July 16th which is the Catholic feast day of Our Lady Mount Carmel.
Link to Spanish History
The Carmelites of Santa Fe follow the Spanish tradition established during the 16th century. St. Teresa de Ávila spearheaded the movement in 1535. She was born Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada in 1515 in Gotarrendura in the province of Ávila, Spain. A writer and mystic, St. Teresa was a reformer of the Carmelite Order. In 1568 with the assistance of St. John of the Cross, they restored the practice of the Ancient Order of the Carmelites. St. Teresa was canonized as a saint by Pope Gregory XV in 1622. In 1970 she was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI.
By the 17th century the Carmelites also had a strong presence in France. Therese Martin was born in Lisieux and entered the Carmelite monastery in 1873. In 1925 she became a saint and in 1997 also became a Doctor of the Church. Between the Spanish and French traditions the Carmelites consist of three components: The 2000 friars who live an active parish life; the 700 nuns that live a cloistered life, and the approximately, 30,000 members of the Laypeople of the Secular Order. They have provinces all over the world including India, Indonesia and Singapore with missions from Bolivia to Zimbabwe. In New Mexico there are Carmelites nuns in Santa Fe and Las Cruces.
Santa Fe’s Tradition
The Carmelites came to Santa Fe in 1945 when Mother Mary Teresa, along with five sisters, established a monastery at Mount Carmel Road located off of Camino del Monte Sol. Mother Mary Teresa, whose given name was Guadalupe De Leon, entered the monastery in Mexico when she was 19. It was during this time in 1926 that Plutarco Elias Calles was the 40th president of Mexico. His government was repressive, violent and anti-Catholic, which prompted the young nun to flee persecution. She came to the U.S. and eventually became the prioress of the Carmelite monastery in Dallas. In 1960 she left Santa Fe to found a new monastery in Jefferson City, MO, where she died on July 15, 1997 at the age of 94.