History of Our Province
A brief history of the St. Therese Province of the Discalced Carmelite Friars
As the 1920s began, Fr. Edward was faced with many other decisions about the direction of a new province of Discalced Carmelite friars in the United States. Fr. Cyril had built a monastery in McGehee, Arkansas, which was 130 miles from Little Rock where Fr. Edward had accepted a teaching assignment. His health was not good and he sent a letter of resignation to the Provincial but it was politely ignored. The last thing Fr. Edward needed was a new idea like the one Fr. Bernard had proposed to start a magazine in English dedicated to St. Thérèse and called the Little Flower Magazine. The friars denied the project but the Carmelite Tertiary sisters (today known as Carmelite Sisters of St. Thérèse) were listed as publishers and 5,000 copies were printed in April 1920.
The growth of our province seemed to coincide with the growth of devotion to the Little Flower in the United States. The success of the friars’ promotion of Thérèse lay in its timing. Pope Benedict XV declared Thérèse “Venerable” in August 1921. In April 1923, she was beatified and then in May 1925, Pope Pius XI canonized her.
The many events leading up to this great honor were all chronicled and anticipated in the friars’ Little Flower Magazine. Photographs were printed of these events including ceremonies surrounding the exhumation of her grave; the procession of her body through the streets of Lisieux to her Carmelite monastery, where a new tomb had been prepared for her (we would later build a replica of that tomb for our national shrine to her in San Antonio, Texas); and the illumination of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome for her canonization.
The choice of St. Thérèse as our provincial patron can be traced back to the events of her beatification in 1923. In February 1923, the final act of the Apostolic Process of St. Thérèse’s cause for beatification and canonization was completed, as the decree approving her miracles was read in the Consistorial Hall of the Vatican. Pope Pius XI then gave a speech in which he gave tribute to the Little Flower. “With all our heart we congratulate the religious family of Carmel on the new flower which the charity of the Divine Heart has caused to spring up in their garden…”