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They emerged in 1593 as the reformed part of the Carmelite Order with its own general and its special emphasis on the contemplative life. This reform was begun in 1562 by Teresa of Avila.* The Carmelite Order was originally founded by Berthold on Mount Carmel in Palestine about 1154. It once claimed to have descended directly from Elijah and the community of prophets who lived there. A new period in the history of the order began with the fall of the Crusader States and migration of the Carmelites to Europe. The sixth general, Simon Stock, obtained from Innocent IV certain modifications of the primitive rule as laid down in 1209 by Albert de Vercelli, Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, who insisted on absolute purity, total abstinence from flesh, and solitude. Although abstinence was not abolished, it became less stringent and silence was restricted to specific times. In 1452 an order of Carmelite nuns was founded.

In the sixteenth century, discipline among monks and nuns deteriorated. Teresa of Avila resolved to revive the primitive rule and follow the contemplative life. This reform movement came to be known as the Discalced.* In the course of fifteen years Teresa founded sixteen more convents of nuns. The ideal of the contemplative life attracted many followers, among whom was John of the Cross,* who extended the reform to the male houses of the order. The Carmelites emphasized special devotion to Mary and the Child Jesus, and not unnaturally Carmelite theologians were among the earliest to defend the Roman Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception.