The foundation of this monastery is one of those events where the hand of God is clearly evident. It was completed without material means or help from important people, by a simple religious woman who was outside the cloister of another Roman Carmelite monastery sacked by the masons during the papacy of Pius IX.
The founding Mother, Mª del Carmen de S. Juan de la Cruz, was born in Barcelona (Spain) on 12 October 1819. She was baptised Juana B. in the cathedral. Her parents were Antonio de Garcia, colonel in Spanish army, and Maria Martori. At the age of three Juana lost her mother and her father entrusted her to the care of one of his sisters, a Carmelite religious in one of the monasteries in Rome. The child grew in the shade of those holy walls, without any preoccupation other than that of giving herself entirely to Jesus.
At the age of fifteen, she asked to take the habit of Carmel and was given the name of Sr. Mª del Carmen de San Juan de la Cruz. Because of the turmoil and troubles in Italy in 1848, the nuns were dispersed. Pope Pius IX gave authority in writing for these nuns to found monasteries of the Order wherever they might happen to be. Sr. Mª del Carmen went to Barcelona (Spain), to the province of Girona. She met and spoke to Joaquín Masmitjá, Capitular Vicar of the diocese asking him to indicate to her a suitable place for a Carmelite foundation. The Vicar, who already intended to found a Congregation by the name of Heart of Virgin Mary, sent her to Olot. There, for a time, she gave herself with great dedication in helping the new Congregation. But, following her strong desire to found a Carmelite monastery, she left the Congregation and accompanied by Sr. Mª Dolores del Sagrado Corazón she went to the bishop of Girona to ask his advice. After some failed attempts in Tordera and then in Besalú, permission was given to the two sisters to found a monastery in Banyoles, on condition that they ran a school for children, because the civil laws at the time forbade the founding of new monasteries unless the religious were engaged in activities of public benefit. With this commitment, the two religious were well received by the authorities and the people of Banyoles.
In 1860 they established themselves in East Banyoles, in a house called Hospital Vell, where there was a chapel dedicated to St. Roc. The following year the first novice took her vows, Sr. Dolores Mundet, the same religious who accompanied her when she left the Congregation in Olot. Soon other young girls joined them: Sr. Mª Serafina de San Eliseo and Sr. Mª Elias de San Angelo.
After some years of formation, the Canon of Girona, Luis Puig de la Bellacasa, at the risk of losing the foundation, finally obtained permission for the two novices to be professed. The same Canon offered them a house with a small garden to which they transferred on 8 April 1867.
In 1872 the community was made up of four religious. Because of this, the Bishop of Girona, Constantino Bonet, accorded them episcopal clausura, giving them special Constitutions, which were approved by Bishop Tomás Sivilla. From then on, supported by Mons. José Ferrer, there were so many vocations that the church and the monastery became too small. They acquired some lands, and on 16 July 1884 the first stone was blessed and the present church was built. It was open to public cult on 14 May 1887. The monastery was built the following years and the nuns transferred there on 15 July 1898.
In June 1907, after several requests and a great deal of waiting, the community received the letter of aggregation to the Carmelite Order as cloistered Third Order Regular nuns, with the Rule of St. Albert and the Constitutions approved by the Congregation for Religious on 16 July 1935. Then, according to a report of the prioress, Sr. Mª del Pilar de San Miguel, the community numbered 23 professed nuns, 11 novices, 6 lay sisters and 2 aspirants.
In 1960 the nuns celebrated the first centenary of this holy monastery. In spite of the critical financial situation of the monastery, with the advice of Fr. B. Xiberta (Cat), the nuns did what the apostles did, with faith they threw the net on the side of Jesus. The gem of the centenary was a Holy Mass celebrated by the Prior General, Fr. Kilian Healy.
Address: C. Dr. Hysern
17820 Banyoles (Girona)