Stella Maris Monastery a.k.a Our Lady of Mount Carmel is situated on the tip of Mount Carmel in Haifa. The monastery, just like the Muhraka Monastery to the south-east on Mount Carmel, belongs to the Discalced Carmelites. The Stella Maris Monastery has its roots in the period of the Crusaders but was abandoned after the Mamluk conquest and was only rebuilt in the 19th Century. Stella Maris means “Star of the Sea” and takes its name from the ancient lighthouse here on the Cape. Today the modern lighthouse is an IDF base.
Four Plaques in Memory of Carmelite Saints
Mariam Baouardy, O.C.D., was a Israeli Arab Christian who became a Discalced Carmelite nun of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. She was a mystic, who experienced the stigmata, and has been beatified by the Catholic Church.
One of the most interesting plaques is that of Edith Stein, a.k.a St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, OCD, who was born Jewish, was a German Jewish philosopher who converted to the Roman Catholic Church and became a Discalced Carmelite nun. Edith was killed by the Nazis in Auschwitz and was declared a martyr and saint by the Catholic Church.
The Dome Fresco
The frescos on the dome, were painted by Brother Luigi Poggi (1924-28). They depict Old Testaments episodes, the most dramatic being the scene of Elijah, who is associated with Mount Carmel, swept up in a chariot of fire.
The cave below the altar, which you enter, is according to Catholic tradition Elijah’s Cave, where the Old Testament prophet is believed to have lived. There are several other Caves of Elijah on Mount Carmel.
Statue of Mary
The statue of the Virgin Mary was carved from cedar of Lebanon.
The Memorial to Napolean’s Soldiers’ Mass Grave
The Stella Maris Monastery served as a hospital for Napoleon’s soldiers during his retreat from the unsuccessful siege of Acre (Akko) in 1799. Some say that Napoleon abandoned his soldiers who were slaughtered by the Turks. Other sources reported that Napoleon made an effort to save them during the retreat. This makes for interesting stories told by tour guides. Mark Twain on his visit wrote that the monument states: “Quomodo ceciderunt fortes in bello” (How are the valiant fallen – King David’s Lamentations).
Monument to Our Lady of Carmel
Erected by the Republic of Chile in 1894 (Our Lady of Carmel is the Patron Saint of Chile)
Near the Stella Maris Monastery: