Carmelite cross ceiling motif at Stella Maris church.
The first members of the Carmelite Order were penitents who had come to the Holy Land during the Crusades. One evening, we hiked up to the ruins of the monastery the monks built in the Wadi al Siah. After about 100 years, the Muslims took back Mount Carmel from the Christian monks. The monks who did not flee to Europe were slaughtered, and the valley where they lived is now called the Valley of the Martyrs. The monks were inspired to live on Mount Carmel by the Scriptural accounts of Elijah the prophet (1 Kings 18). From the beginning the monks were devoted to the Mother of God, calling themselves the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. and ancient visitors reported the existence of a chapel dedicated to her.
Following is a link to a new agey site that has a Mt. Carmel page with great pictures and a map of the archeological finds at the site of the first monastery: http://essenes.net/carmel.html. Even though things asserted as facts on the Internet must be taken with a grain of salt, it is interesting that the Essene site states that the original Crusader monks found a small Byzantine monastery when they arrived on Mount Carmel, and that the Byzantines reported that their predecessors had found Jewish Christians when they had first arrived. The Jewish Christians had been living on the mountain since the time of Christ. And to take the thread even further back, the Jewish Christian community claimed to be the spiritual heirs of a Jewish monastic order that had been living on the mountain since the time of Elijah and the school of the prophets at that very site.
The first day we were there we went to El Muhraqa, the place of the burning, which is where Elijah had his face off with the prophets of Baal. No pictures of that site survived the burning Xrays that clouded eight or more photos out of every roll in my suitcase.