On the 1st of January 2013, the provinces of Upper and Lower Germany, after many years of intense cooperation, especially in the field of formation, and after a processof preparation that involved numerous meetings, were united into one German Province. This decision was the result of the desire of the German Carmelites
to respond to the needs of the present times and to unify their resources in order to better live the Carmelite charism and therefore to act in a more effective way.
It is not the first time that this kind of unification has happened. Indeed, it is the third time that these provinces have been united in a history that goes back several centuries. It is always a question of responding to the demands of the times. On this occasion too, the desire is to be attentive to what is happening and to the changes that are taking places at this point in history. In the most ancient Constitutions of the Order that have come down to us (1281) the Province of Germany was in eighth place among the ten provinces then existing. Following the erection of the first German province in 1265, two divisions (1291 and 1318) and two unifications (1312 and 1327) took place. A third division took place in 1348, which lasted to the suppression of both provinces at the time of the Napoleonic secularisation at the beginning of the 19th century.
Before the secularisation the Province of Lower Germany stretched from the Rhine to Belgium and Holland. The Province of Upper Germany covered a vast area that included not only southern Germany, but also Bohemia, Austria, Hungary and Poland. This enormous territory was reduced in 1411 with the establishment of the Province of Bohemia, made up of the houses of Bohemia, Poland, Prussia, Saxonia and Thuringia.In 1440 the houses remaining in Bohemia, Poland and Hungary passed over once more to the Province of Upper Germany. The houses in Saxonia became a separate province and, in 1462 the Province of Poland and Bohemia was re-established.
In the 16th century, during the Lutheran Reform, the province of Lower Germany, which had its principal house in Cologne, suffered very little in comparison to its sister province which lost fourteen of its existing sixteen houses. By their adherence to the Reform of Touraine in the following century,both provinces saw a kind of rebirth. In 1803 the suppression of religious orders by the emperor Napoleon meant that the house in Straubing, belonging to the Upper German province was the only house to remain and in it the remaining friars were allowed to live. When, in 1841 King Louis I of Bavaria gave permission for the house to be re-opened, one lone Carmelite was found there. Yet, in 1864, it was two Carmelites from Straubing that set out for North America, and these two laid the foundations for what would become the Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary.(PCM). Sometime later, Carmelites from the Netherlands went to Germany to help their German brothers and this cooperation in 1879 gave rise to the German-Dutch province. In 1922 the Upper German Province was erected again through the unification of the General Commissariat of Austria and the Vicariate of Bavaria.
The sixteen flourishing houses of the Lower German Province that had disappeared without trace during the Napoleonic suppression in 1803 and the subsequent years, found a future when in 1924, the Dutch province, with the support of Blessed Titus Brandsma, took back the ancient house in Mainz. In the years that followed other foundations were made that led first to the Provincial Commissariat and then in 1969 to the Lower German Province which came back to life.
In addition to all their work in the houses and in the parishes under their care, and in retreat houses, in teaching and in the various institutions, both provinces had a strong commitment to missions. The foundation by the Upper German province in Brazil (1951) and India (1882) bore fruit in the establishment of the Province of St. Thomas of the Siro-Malabar Rite (2007) and the General Commissariat of Paraná (2012), Since the year 2001 the Lower German province is involved in the new foundation in the Cameroon.
At the time of unification 100 friars belong to the new united province. At the moment there are 71 solemnly professed Carmelites and two simply professed, in eight canonically erected houses. In the two houses in Cameroon, there are thirteen solemnly professed friars and fourteen simply professed. The Carmelite presence in Germany also includes two monasteries of Carmelite nuns, one of which is in the Province of Upper Germany, erected first in 1948, in Schlüsselau, and then transferred in 1969 to Erlangen, the other, in the Province of Lower Germany, erected first in Duisburg in 1961 and transferred to Essen in 2002.
for more information about the Provincce
Deutsche Provinz der Karmeliten