At the beginning of 1200, some laymen travelled from Europe to the Holy Land, trying to find a new way of religious life. Some were fleeing from the changing social structures of medieval Europe while others came as crusaders, who, when they reached the Holy Land, began a new way of Monastic life; hermetical monasticism. They went to settle on Mount Carmel.

Mount Carmel was viewed by the Jews, Christians and Muslims as a holy place; the place where the prophet Elijah was venerated. The hermits who came here, followed his example and regarded him as their father. They settled around his spring and led a contemplative life, in silence and solitude. For them, this geographic location, Mt Carmel, was a mystical place in which to live in the presence of God alone.


They followed the example of the Prophet Elijah, and they also placed themselves under the protection of Mary, the mother of Jesus, inspired by the values she observed in her life and took the mystery of her life and union with Christ as their ideal model of consecration. In her honor, they built a very beautiful little church.


Around 1238, the first Carmelites were expelled from Mount Carmel by Muslims and they migrated to France, Cyprus, Sicily and England. As a result, the original mystical space of Mount Carmel, with its contemplative life, moved, and the first Carmelites began to experience it in new locations; wherever God called them and they were given a place. These Carmelites were now living in new circumstances, populated places and they changed from eremites (hermits) to cenobites (community people). These were painful times of adjustment and God blessed them with an extraordinary leader, St Simon Stock, who steadfastly begged Our Lady to protect the Order dedicated to her. In a vision, Simon received the Scapular as a special sign of her protection.


Subsequently, the Order accepted enclosed Nuns and lay people who are affiliated to the Order. Then some lay women of outstanding courage and Carmelite Bishops founded Institutes of Apostolic Consecrated women and Men affiliated to the Order. Among these Institutes is the Handmaids of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, founded by the late Bishop Donal R. Lamont O.Carm.


MOTTO : "That I may please God."

Our Congregation, founded by Bishop Donal Raymond Lamont O. Carm in 1959 for the service of the Church in the then Diocese of Umtali, is known as THE HANDMAIDS OF OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL, or Carmelite Sisters (Mutare).

We are an Apostolic Congregation of Diocesan Right, affiliated to the Order of Carmelites. We commit ourselves to follow Christ in the Holy Gospel, in the spirit derived from the Carmelite spiritual tradition adapted to our African culture, as expressed in our Constitutions.

Our Title- Handmaids of Our Lady of Mt Carmel

The title of “Our blessed lady of Mount Carmel indicates the Marian character and prophetic spirit of our vocation as willed by the founder  “Of Course I want to do whatever you wish. I am the handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38).


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