Carmel Life

The Carmelites are a centuries-old monastic order where the emphasis is on a life of prayer and silence, and where the doors are open for people who seek nourishment for their faith or spiritual support. Every day, Carmel’s sisters and brothers commit to being nourished by God’s Love.


Carmel Life

Flemish Carmel comprises three monastic communities of the male order in Flanders (Bruges, Ghent and Berchem) and a monastery in Sweden founded by the Flemish Carmel (Norraby). In addition, there are six communities of Carmelite sisters in Flanders and a monastery in Denmark.


The Order of the Discalced Carmelite Friars of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, which is our official family name, has monasteries across the world and its ‘headquarters’ in Rome. We are also known by the abbreviation ocd that every Carmelite has behind his name.


The Carmelites seem to capture their lives in a paradox: a community of hermits. Yet, this best describes it. We combine moments of solitude, in which we are alone in our monastery cell, with communal moments of prayer, meals and congregation. It is exactly this balance that shapes Carmel’s monastic life.

Internal prayer

The daily celebration of the Eucharist and the communal prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours are the backbone of our order of the day, as is true for many other monasteries. The Church invites everyone to participate in these activities. Unique to the Carmelites are the two daily hours of silent and internal prayer.


We cherish silence not only in prayer, but also during meals and our work in each person’s own monastic cell. Yet we are not a ‘silent monastic order’: people visit us to receive spiritual guidance, pastoral conversations and/or the sacrament of penance and reconciliation (confession). What’s more, we offer the space to join in our daily Eucharistic celebrations and sometimes part of the Liturgy of the Hours too.


Each Carmel monastery offers the opportunity to live with them for a few days, such as during an individual or communal retreat, a period of reflection, or for concentrated work or study. The Carmel in Ghent has dedicated guest quarters called Het Rustpunt . In Bruges, several rooms and cells are available for guests.

History in Bruges

The first Discalced Carmelites arrived in Bruges in 1630, when they moved in to a house near Gentpoortstraat. After a few years, they moved to the present monastery in Ezelstraat, although it has been considerably renovated since then. Other monastic orders were initially suspicious of the arrival of the Carmelites, fearing they would lose money due to the ‘competition’ with the newcomers. But when the Carmelites volunteered to care for the sick who were suffering from the plague, facing certain death as a result, the people of Bruges opened their hearts to the friars and priests. The monastery is well-known due to its monumental building, the impressive library with more than 25,000 books and the generous garden in the heart of the city. The Carmel in Bruges is increasingly growing into an international community, bringing together different cultural backgrounds. The many tourists visiting Bruges also find their way to the monastery in Ezelstraat.