Stella Maris Monastery
About Stella Maris Monastery
The Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery in Haifa stands on the slopes of Mount Carmel with views of the Mediterranean. It is the biggest monastery in all of Israel and serves as a centre of Carmelite spirituality throughout the world. The name of Stella Maris means “The Star of the Sea”.
The Carmelite Order was established in the late 12th century when Crusader-era pilgrims, inspired by the prophet Elijah, opted for a hermitic life on the slopes of Mount Carmel, the place of their outset.
Monastery and Church
The current building is a beautiful structure with its interior walls covered with white marble panels. Inside the church, the beautifully painted ceiling and dome depicts scenes from the Bible including Elijah ascending to heaven in a chariot of fire. According to the Carmelite tradition, the small cave under the altar is where Elijah had stayed. The stone was the bedrock on which Elijah had slept.
Outside the church, a pyramid with a wrought-iron cross on top serves as a memorial to the French soldiers who were butchered here following Napoleon’s retreat in 1799. Another memorial stone stands behind it – an iron cross with a small round base with an inscription is dedicated to the memory of the brave soldiers who died on the Chateau-Renaud ship during the French naval assault on Acre.
- The construction of the current building started in 1836 under the supervision of the Discalced Carmelite brother Giovanni Battista Cassini who was an expert architect and was opened for service in 1853.
- The decorations on the dome were done by the Maltese Carmelite Luigi Poggi (1924-1928).
- Above the entrance of the church is the seal of the Carmelites. On the top of the symbol is a sword that is held by the arm of Elijah, stretching out from the crown and a Latin Biblical text (1 Kings 19:10).