- Monasticon Carmelitanum: Die Klöster des Karmelitenordens (O. Carm.) in Deutschland von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart Edited by Edeltraud Klueting, T.O.Carm.; Stephan Panzer, O.Carm.; and Andreas H. Scholten, O.Carm
It is doubtful that many people will read every word of this book, but it will be an invaluable reference work to anyone who is interested in any aspect of the history of the German Carmelites. The provinces of Upper and Lower Germany (since 2013, a single province) commissioned in 2005 histories of all the Carmelite houses situated within the current boundaries of the Federal Republic between the arrival of the Carmelites in Cologne in 1256 and today. Fifty-five scholars worked on the project. The first part covers fifty-eight houses from their foundation until their dissolution in the Reformation or until their secularization in 1802–03. The second deals with the twenty-three friaries that were refounded or established in the modern period, mainly after World War II. Each entry includes extensive archival and bibliographical sections about each foundation. The level of scholarship is high, and the amount of information is staggering.
It is hoped that someone will be inspired to tackle the numerous questions raised by the book. Six colored maps show the distribution of the friaries at key moments. The Carmelites founded only a few houses in Eastern Europe during the late Middle Ages—for example, in Prague in 1347—and assigned them initially to the province of Upper Germany. The delineation of the boundaries between the German and Polish Dominican and Franciscan provinces proved highly controversial in the thirteenth century. Did the memory of these fights retard and limit the expansion of the Carmelites in this region? There were no Carmelite friaries in northern Germany, none in medieval Westphalia, and only two in Old Bavaria. Why not? Most of the houses were situated in the Low Countries, in the Rhine Valley as far south as Strasbourg, and between the Main and Danube. Many of these were located in obscure places. The most extreme case is Appingen, a village in eastern Frisia that no longer exists, but many of the other locations (such as Hettstedt, Perleberg, or Pössneck) may not be in the forefront of the minds of historians. How can such foundations be reconciled with the order’s alleged urban apostolate?
Part of the answer is that the Carmelites were the last of the four mendicant orders to arrive in Germany and had often to be satisfied with marginal locations. Six maps show the location of the houses of the four orders in six episcopal sees (why not in imperial cities like Frankfurt and Nürnberg?), but there is little discussion in the individual articles whether the Carmelites appealed to a different urban audience and no overall summary of this or any other topic. Their mission in Regensburg was largely limited, for example, to caring for women in a hospital; and they moved in 1367 to Straubing, the only house in continuous existence—barely—until the present. (Friars from Straubing started the Carmelite mission in the United States in 1864 in Leavenworth, Kansas.) In spite of their work with women in Regensburg, the Carmelites established their first German nunnery, Geldern, only in 1452. In [End Page 99] contrast, there were seventy-four nunneries in the Dominican province of Teutonia by 1303. Since the Dominican nunneries became centers of German mysticism, the Carmelite emphasis on contemplation should have appealed to women; but the friars seemingly were unwilling or failed to satisfy this longing, and that failure may have impeded their own expansion. Finally, although a few houses were active in re-Catholicization, the striking thing is the low level of involvement of the Carmelites in the Counter-Reformation. For instance, the Wittelsbachs preferred the Capuchins, the Jesuits, and the Discalced Carmelites...