Carmelite Saints Hallway honors spiritual heritage
Last month’s celebration of the Feast of All Saints brought to mind the portraits of Carmelite saints that hang in the hallway between the Student Commons and the Cacciatore Gym. That space, officially designated “Carmelite Saints Hallway,” may be thought of by most as just a place to pass through on the way to some other part of the campus. However, School Chaplain Fr. Leopold Glueckert points out that the paintings offer us an opportunity “to reflect on what these saints did for us.”
The artwork depicts six important figures from our Carmelite Heritage: Elijah the prophet (from the Hebrew scriptures), St. Theresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, Angelo Paoli, Edith Stein, and St. Therese of the Child Jesus.
Each of these saints embody a quality that should inspire all of us in the Mount Carmel community.
The story of Elijah the prophet is told in the Old Testament Book of Kings. Although he lived many centuries before the first group of Carmelites gathered on Mount Carmel, Elijah is looked upon by Carmelites as a foundational figure. It was his zeal to stand against the corrupt king and queen that offers us inspiration to live with and work for justice.
St. Theresa of Avila, also known as St. Theresa of Jesus, lived in the 1500s. She was one of many men and women throughout history who helped reform the Carmelite order and the wider church to be more faithful to Christ. She inspires us to live out our faith in meaningful action.
St. John of the Cross, a contemporary of St. Theresa of Avila, was a Spanish Carmelite priest who is remembered as one of the great spiritual writers of all time. In fact, both he and St. Theresa are given the title of “Doctor of the Church.” He inspires readers today to live lives of contemplation.
Lastly, Angelo Paoli was a Carmelite priest from Italy who lived in the 1600s. In an article published on www.Carmelites.net, Fr. Leopold wrote that, “In a world known for its callous disregard for the poor and downtrodden, the example of Angelo Paoli is a refreshing breath of air.” Fr. Leopold noted that Angelo Paoli cared so completely for the unfortunate in his world that he became known as “Father of the Poor.” He stands as an inspiration for us to reach out to those in need today, especially in efforts like Advent Action and programs like Impact Service Week.
St. Therese of the Infant Jesus, otherwise remembered as St. Therese of Lisieux, was a Carmelite nun who died of tuberculosis at the age of 24. Although she died very young, and lived most of her life within the confines of her Carmelite community, she made an impact on the entire world throuygh the publication of her autobiography, “The Journey of a Soul.” In that autobiography Therese explained her devotion to the “little way,” her expression for doing small acts of charity and kindness. St. Therese, also called “the Little Flower,” is remembered in a shrine located at the Carmelite Campus in Darien, Illinois.
The most contemporary of the six figures honored in the hallway is Edith Stein, a Carmelite nun and Jewish philosopher who lived in Poland in the first half of the 20th century. During the rise of Nazism, Stein and her family emigrated to the Netherlands to hide from the Germans, but eventually they were found and Stein died with her family in a concentration camp. Her commitment to her faith in the face of persecution is an inspiration to all those who face prejudice and persecution in the world today.