History of Boston Carmel

Boston Carmel was founded in 1890 from the Carmel of Baltimore, one hundred years after the latter was established as the first foundation of religious women in the United States.

While writing a book called Carmel in America, Fr. Charles Currier, CssR,  a priest at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston, learned that Baltimore Carmel had reached its limit of twenty-one members and that applicants were being turned away. He became preoccupied with the idea of a Carmelite monastery in Boston

Archbishop John J. Williams

Archbishop John J. Williams

In November 1889, Archbishop John J. Williams of Boston was in Baltimore to preside at the opening Mass of the Catholic Congress celebrating the Centennial of the Catholic Hierarchy.

While in the city, he visited the Baltimore Carmelite Monastery. There, he first learned that the community had reached its full complement of sisters and was unable to accept a number of young women,  many from New England, who were applying to enter. The nuns expressed their desire to found a monastery in Boston—an idea immediately embraced by the Archbishop, who formally invited Baltimore Carmel to begin a foundation in Boston.

It was at this point that Fr. Currier, aware of the poverty in the community, teamed up with Samuel Tuckerman and Father Robert Fulton, S.J., with a fundraising plan. Father Fulton offered the use of Boston College Hall for a lecture on the subject, promising also to give $100 to the monastery fund. On April 10, 1890, Father Currier addressed over a thousand people, captivating the audience and sparking a warm affection for the Carmelites. The address was published and sent to about 800 Catholics with an urgent appeal for monetary contributions. In a month, they raised $5,000.

Five Carmelite nuns set sail from Baltimore for the new foundation in Boston on August 23, 1890

* Mother Beatrix of the Holy Spirit
(Camilla Magers) – Prioress

* Mother Angela of the Presentation
(Josephine Dyer) – Sub-prioress

* Sister Gertrude of the Heart of Jesus
(Gertrude McMaster)

* Sister Augustine of the Mother of God
(Eulalia Tuckerman)

* Sister Alphonsus of the Heart of Jesus
(Barbara Braun)

When the founders arrived from Baltimore on August 27th it was Father Currier who met them and escorted them to their new home on Cedar Street and celebrated there the first Mass on August 28th.

The Redemptorists of Mission Hill in Roxbury, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica, have served faithfully as chaplains to the community since that first Mass up to the present day.


Cedar Street

The founders stayed in their first location on Cedar Street for four years. On September 25, 1894, they moved to their permanent location on Mount Pleasant Avenue, just a short distance away. This monastery (pictured at top of page), originally built within the Morrill Estate, still stands today and is the oldest extant Carmelite monastery building in the United States.

Several other monasteries were founded from Boston Carmel. These are located in Philadelphia, PA; Santa Clara, CA; Concord, NH; and Danvers, MA.