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19 April 2023

400 years of the presence of Carmel in Iraq

It has been 400 years since the Discalced Carmelites first arrived in these lands of Iraq. It was in Basra, southern Iraq, not far from the Persian Gulf. Though today the Mission is under the responsibility of the Paris Province, the founder was Portuguese: Father Basil of St. Francis. The first Mass was celebrated on July 9, 1623. We, the Carmelite family, the friars, the Secular Order members, the Carmelite Sisters of St. Joseph, consecrated women, those devoted to wearing the scapular and the friends of Carmel celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving on Sunday the 19th of February 2023. It was presided our confrere Monsignor Jean Sleiman, Archbishop of Baghdad of the Latins.

We went on pilgrimage to the sources of our faith by going to Ur of the Chaldees, where we visited a ziggurat and Abraham’s house.

We continued our journey by going to Baghdad to share together about the witness of Carmel in all these years. We also inaugurated a bust in honour of the first Iraqi Carmelite, Father Anastasius-Mary of Saint Elijah (1866-1947), a great scholar of the Arabic language, literature and philosophy.