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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

Kneeling Carmelite Nuns

Kneeling Carmelite Nuns


The photo also shows the new altar and chapel at the monastery dedicated to St. John and St. Therese the Little Flower. Four nuns kneel at the railing before the main altar, which has a large cross above it and a statue of St. Therese of Jesus (from Avila, Spain) on the left and St. John of the Cross (also from Spain) on the right, both of whom inaugurated the reform of the order, eventually breaking off to become "Discalced" Carmelites. The side altar on the left has an image of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel with the infant Jesus, and the altar on the right is dedicated to St. Joseph. This would have been the prescribed setup for a Catholic Church of the time.  Note that the photographer has only shot the backs of the nuns, not their faces; this is typical of cloistered life.


Full Details

TitleKneeling Carmelite Nuns
FormatReproduced photograph

Title by contributor. Taken during the celebratory open house in 1941, which provided the public with a glimpse into the cloistered life of the Carmelite nuns. Photo from the Carmelite Nuns’ Golden Jubilee Booklet, pg. 41. With the exception of the 1941 open house, a Carmelite sister’s face would almost never be photographed, and only seen by her companion sisters inside her monastery. 

Corrections, August 20, 2015: Father Patrick, a Carmelite priest of St. Agnes Parish in Phoenix, Arizona, grew up in Grand Rapids and his grandparents lived close to the old Carmelite Monastery, where his grandmother, Doroth Gavin, was a frequent visitor. Father Patrick has sent corrections regarding the earlier identifications of the statues on the main altar and the altars on the left and right. The Historical Commission is most grateful to have the correct information added to our website and we thank Father Patrick for taking time to send it to us.



Location In PhotoGrand Rapids, MI
CollectionCollection #347, Church References Collection, Carmelite Nuns 1916-1966, Box 1, Folder 2; History & Special Collections Dept.

Reproduction and copyright information regarding this image is available from Grand Rapids History & Special Collections, Archives, Grand Rapids Public Library, Grand Rapids, MI

InstitutionGrand Rapids Public Library
Physical Storage LocationGrand Rapids, MI

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