General Delegation of France
In 1240 or thereabouts, there was a Carmelite foundation in Les Aygalades (the first in France), near Marseilles and in Nantes in 1318. In the year 1789 the Order had eight Provinces and 153 houses in France. The French Revolution of the same year resulted in the extinction of the Carmelite Order in that country. Various attempts were made to re-establish our presence since, but without success.
The French Project was first given an airing by the Carmelite Order at the Council of Provinces at Fatima in 1985. The theme of this meeting was International Fraternity. It was decided at Fatima to inaugurate an international community, (that is in addition to the two already existing in Rome: the Curia and St. Albert's International Centre). This decision was to be a sign of the Order's commitment to internationality. A year later, at the General Congregation in Niagara Falls, it was decided that the new international community would be in France. The first contacts were made in the same year.
In September 1988, contact was made with the French bishops of Bourges and Nantes; and three concrete projects were drawn up at the Council of Provinces in Dublin (Ireland): (1) Bourges: a house at the centre of the city, which had been offered as a centre of spirituality and prayer by the bishop; (2) Nantes: the construction of a centre of spirituality at the heart of the diocese of Nantes which would be ready towards the end of 1993; (3) Villefranche: the foundation of a hermitic international house. The Council of Provinces decided on Bourges as a first step but chose Nantes as the long term foundation of the Order in France. The first three Carmelites went to Bourges in 1989, a significant date, being the second centenary of the French of Revolution!
At present the General Delegation is made up of about 10 religious coming from different Carmelite Provinces. It now has two houses in Nantes and Angers.