Carmelite Nuns


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By the late 14th century, the Carmelites were becoming increasingly interested in their origins; the lack of a distinctive named founder (by contrast with the Dominicans and Franciscans) may have been a factor in the development of numerous legends surrounding Carmelite origins. One particularly influential book was the Institution of the First Monks, the first part of a four-part work from the late fourteenth century. It was almost certainly composed by Philip Ribot, Catalan Carmelite provincial, though Ribot passed off his work as a collection of earlier writings that he edited, claiming that the Institution itself was written by John XLIV, supposedly a patriarch of Jerusalem, who purportedly wrote the text in Greek in 412. The Institution tells of the founding of the Carmelite order by the prophet Elijah and gives a fanciful history of the order in the pre- and early Christian era. It was hugely influential, and has been described as the "chief book of spiritual reading in the Carmelite order" until the seventeenth century.