|The Old Carmelite Monastery
North Rampart Street
|The Discalced Carmelites, an order of cloistered nuns established in Belgium, arrived
in New Orleans in 1877. Their chapel and monastery, located on North Rampart
Street, was designed by noted New Orleans architect, James Freret. The Monastery
and Chapel of St. Joseph and St. Teresa was dedicated in 1891. The Caremlite
nuns, a contemplative and strictly cloistered order, lived their entire lives behind
the walls of the monastery.
The following description is from "The Picayune Guide to New Orleans,"
published in 1904:
|"The Monastery stands at the corner of Barracks and Rampart Streets. There are only
four convents of this order in America. The nuns lead the most rigorous life, wearing
sackcloth next to their skin, going bare-footed the year round and eating nothing but
vegetables and fruit. From the moment a Carmelite pronounces her vows, she never
again looks upon the faces of friends and family. Visitors are only admitted to the
chapel or the reception room in the old courtyard. They may speak to the cloistered
nuns if they desire prayers for themselves or others, but the nuns sit behind a grating
over which a heavy black veil is nailed. The visitors only hear their voices, sweet and
low, exhorting them to patience in trials and afflictions and greater confidence in the
mercy of God. At the Matin and Vesper services, which are sung daily, the invisible
nuns, behind the grating, use the solemn Gregorian chant of ancient Catholic Rome."
|Carmelite Chapel, 1940's
|The Chapel and high walls of the monastery became a familiar
landmark in the city and the property remained under the care of
the Carmelites for over seventy-five years.
The nuns moved out of the complex in 1971 and, four years later,
sold it to the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Since that time, it's
served as a Catholic Charismatic retreat house.
|The complex on N. Rampart Street, 2013
|The link to this page is:
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