Carmel of the Holy Child Jesus

A Carmelite Monastery in Bethlehem

About the Monastery

Bethlehem is the birthplace of Jesus, and Marie of Jesus Crucified (Mariam Baouardy), the main founder of the monastery, wanted to dedicate this monastery especially to contemplation and veneration of this mystery of the Incarnation, poverty and childhood of Jesus. That is the spiritual message of the One who is par excellence the Son and who wishes to draw us all into Himself so that we may become what we are: beloved children of the Father.

Born in Bethlehem, it was really in “the cradle of his father David” that Jesus came to share our humanity. By building the monastery in the form of a tower on the top of “David’s Hill”, Mariam wished to venerate and contemplate David, and with him the whole biblical history of which Jesus became a part. The Moabite Mountains in the distance remind us of the story of Ruth and Naomi, Mount Nebo and Moses, the Valley of Jordan and Dead-Sea, Jericho, the Prophet Elijah who went to Mount Horeb, and Jerusalem so near. All these biblical and evangelical reminiscences are like a seed sown in the earth, a history of salvation, because that is the place where God bound Himself to humanity forever.

To be Carmelite nuns here means to take into our prayer this entire heritage, so that it may bear fruit in this country where Hope has been sown even in the heart of all tears. And to be Carmelite nuns here is also to enter into this mystery of the poverty and the spiritual childhood of the Son, and to become in Him “the home of peace and joy”.

In this town where the sound of bells is mixed with the chants of muezzins, near Rachel’s tomb, at the gates of Jerusalem, how can we not gather all that ever more strongly in our prayer as an offering to the One who is the Prince of Peace?


On 20 August 1875, ten nuns left their monastery in Pau (France) to found a Carmel in Bethlehem. One of them, Marie of Jesus Crucified (Mariam Baouardy), was really the soul of the little group. A benefactor of the community, Berthe Dartigaux, accompanied them on this journey, and later, in May 1879, she returned to live with the community.

It was Mariam who, led by the Lord, indicated the place of the future monastery, on top of the hill of David, which is in front of the hill of the Nativity. The foundation stone was laid 24 March 1876. While the monastery was being built, the community lived in a temporary house near the Basilica of the Nativity. The monastic life in the new monastery was inaugurated on 21 November 1876 but some work continued and Mariam died before it was finished, on 26 August 1878. The building of the chapel was started in 1888 and the solemn blessing was on 9 November 1892. The chapel is dedicated to Saint Joseph; the themes of the windows show it. Mariam wanted the altar placed on “the grotto of David” where Tradition places the anointing of King David by Samuel.

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