Mercy and the Saints of Carmel

Mercy is a central concept in the lives and writings of many holy men and women of the Carmelite Order. Here are just a few examples...

Saint Teresa of Avila (1515-82)
The great Carmelite nun and Doctor of the Church, Teresa of Avila, often wrote about the mercy of God. Her concept of religious life was to form communities of compassion and mercy.


I have often thought with wonder of the great goodness of God; and my soul has rejoiced in the contemplation of His great magnificence and mercy. May He be blessed for ever!
I had many friends to help me to fall; but as to rising again, I was so much left to myself, that I wonder now I was not always on the ground. I praise God for His mercy; for it was He only Who stretched out His hand to me. May He be blessed for ever!

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-97)
Quoting both the Psalms, and her spiritual mother Saint Teresa, Thérèse of Lisieux opens her autobiography, Story of a Soul, by saying she must sing forever the mercies of the Lord. At a time when many Christians spoke of needing to appease God's anger, Thérèse understood that God is merciful and forgiving, and offered herself as an 'oblation to merciful love'.


O God ... In order to live in one single act of perfect Love, I offer myself as a victim of holocaust to your merciful love, asking You to consume me incessantly, allowing the waves of infinite tenderness shut up within You to overflow into my soul, and that thus I may become a martyr of Your Love, O my God!


Divine Mercy in St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Blessed Isidore Bakanja (c. 1887-1909)
Isidore Bakanja was a manual labourer in the Congo. Becoming Christian at the age of eighteen, he sought to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with his contemporaries, acting as a catechist. He had a great love of the Blessed Virgin Mary, symbolised by his wearing the Brown Scapular of the Carmelite Order. When Isidore refused an instruction from his employer to remove his scapular and stop sharing the Gospel, he was brutally beaten. His wounds became so infected that he died some while later, but not before forgiving his abuser.


Tell them that I am dying because I am a Christian. When I am in heaven, I shall pray for him [the man who had beaten him] very much.

Blessed Titus Brandsma (1881-1942)
Titus Brandsma was a Dutch Carmelite friar, priest, and university professor. He was an outspoken critic of Nazi ideology during World War II, and for this was imprisoned in Dachau concentration camp where he died a martyr of the faith. In the prison camps he lived with great mercy and compassion towards his fellow inmates and his captors.