The Discalced Carmelite Order is now known by the initials O.C.D.
The Order was established in 1593, pursuant to the reform of the Carmelite Order of the Ancient Observance by two Spanish saints, Saint Teresa of vila and Saint John of the Cross.
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, schools and churches.
Lay people, known as the Secular Order, follow their contemplative call in their everyday activities. Devotion to Our Lady is a characteristic of Carmelites and is symbolised by wearing the brown scapular.
The Carmelites trace their roots and their name to Mount Carmel in the Holy Land. There, in the 13th century, a band of European men gathered together to live a simple life of prayer. Inspired by the Blessed Virgin Mary, They dedicated their first chapel to her. They called themselves the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. They were also inspired by the prophet Elijah who had been associated with Mount Carmel. That influence can be seen by the words of Elijah, "I have been very zealous for the Lord, God of hosts" (IKg19:10) on the Carmelite crest. Within fifty years of receiving their rule the Carmelite hermits were forced to leave Mount Carmel and settled in Europe.