The Discalced Carmelites, known officially as the Order of the Discalced Carmelites of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (Latin: Ordo Fratrum Carmelitarum Discalceatorum Beatae Mariae Virginis de Monte Carmelo) or the Order of Discalced Carmelites (Latin: Ordo Carmelitarum Discalceatorum; abbrev.: O.C.D.), is a Catholic mendicant order with roots in the eremitic tradition of the Desert Fathers and Mothers. The order was established in the 16th century, pursuant to the reform of the Carmelite Order by two Spanish saints, Saint Teresa of Ávila and Saint John of the Cross. Discalced is derived from Latin, meaning "without shoes".
The Carmelite Order, from which the Discalced Carmelites branched off, is also referred to as the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance to distinguish them from their discalced offshoot. The third order affiliated to the Discalced Carmelites is the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites.
The Discalced Carmelites are men and women in religious consecration, and lay people, who dedicate themselves to a life of prayer. The Carmelite nuns live in cloistered (enclosed) monasteries and follow a completely contemplative life. The Carmelite friars, while following a contemplative life, also engage in the promotion of spirituality through their retreat centres, parishes and churches. Lay people, known as the Secular Order, follow their contemplative call in their everyday activities. Devotion to the Virgin Mary is a characteristic of Carmelites and is symbolised by wearing the brown scapular.
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