Stella Maris | Carmelite Church and Monastery in Haifa
The name of the church is Stella Maris, which means "Star of the Sea" in Latin. It is the nickname of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who is seen as a figure who leads and guides sailors at sea to reach their destination safely. The church also connected with Elijah the prophet who, according to tradition, hid himself inside a cave here. Beside the church lies a monastery. The church and monastery belong to the Carmelite Christian order, named after Mount Carmel which is considered a holy mountain and where the Carmelite Christian order began. It was also known as “The Order of the Brothers of Saint Mary at Mount Carmel”.The church was built and destroyed repeatedly and even moved from its original location which was beside the nearby cave of Elijah. Now it lies on the top of Mount Carmel, only 10 minutes walk from its place of origin.
The Carmelite Order
The Carmelite Order was founded after the 3rd Crusade in 1201 in a place that was already sacred to the Byzantines in the nearby Wadi Sheikh a community gathered together and turned to Patriarch Albert of Jerusalem, seeking recognition as a military order. They received the acknowledgement letter and established a large Crusader church at Nahal Sheikh, adjacent to Elisha's healing source ("A wandering eye"). Following the failure of the Crusaders in the Holy Land, from 1260 on, a number of battles were conducted here against the Mamluk forces. In 1263, the order left the monastery of Nahal Sheikh and evacuated towards Atlit, which later fell into the hands of the Muslims. For 400 years, there was no Carmelite presence on the Carmel mountain. Until 1631, when Father Prosper, head of the Carmelite Church, went to Haifa and bought land from the funds of the Carmelite community in Europe.Their Symbol is Mount Carmel and a cross.
Within the church
At the entrance there is a piece with archaeological finds, discovered close to the church. The most important discovery - a foot sculpture referring to the sun god Helios of the 2nd century BC. Apparently, the Carmelite Mount was already consecrated in the Roman world. Helios has a connection to Elijah. Riding in chariots of fire while Helios had wagons drawn by horses. Helius is the god of the sun, and Elijah used fire in his battle against the heathens. Already at the entry of the church, you can see the main themes of the church in the reliefs on the bronze door. A relief of Mary with Jesus and beside him Elijah combats the pagans.
On the ceiling of the church you can see the dome of the church painted in 1924-28 by an Italian Carmelite painter named Luigi Poggi. The dome is divided into eight triangles with narratives from the Bible.
Inside the church you can see the grotto which, according to the Carmelite tradition, Elijah hid himself when he fled from the pagans. In the grotto you will find an altar with a statue of Elijah. The Carmelites assigned the cave to Elijah and his successor Jesus. Elijah and Jesus have parallel histories, such as Jesus' and Elijah's ascension into heaven and various healing miracles. The church has beautiful white marbles. At the corners of the church there are inscriptions devoted to holy Christian figures. Edith Stein is on that list. Edith Stein was aGerman Jew who studied philosophy and at some point was exposed to the Carmelite writings in Germany and decided to convert to Christianity. Joined the convent of the Carmelites. Edith escaped with the rise of Nazi power with the assistance of Carmelite nuns, and was hidden in a Carmelite monastery in the Netherlands. She was found by Dutch informants and died in Auschwitz. In 1987 the pope John Paul the second declares her as a blessed. In 1998 he declared her a saint following reports that with the help of the prayers a medical miracle was performed and the life of a girl was saved (a holy person must make 3 miracles at least). Edith Stein became a patron of Europe alongside three other women. In the artwork on the wall, you can see Edith's hand extended to the cross, but a barbed wire fence from Auschwitz prevents it. You will notice a large organ in the church. It is used during concert events held here.
Church name: Stella Maris Carmelite Church
Address: Stella Maris road, Haifa
Christianity Carmelite order.
Year of build: 1853
|Bus lines||From Haifa bus station, line no.1, 111, 40.|
|Car||Write in waze “Stella Maris Monastry”. You can park in “Leo Baeack upper parking”.|
Accessibility: not accessible for wheelchairs.
Please note that admission is free.
Telephone number 972-(0)4-8337758 08:30-12:00, afternoon 15:00 to 18:00 every day.
Toilet-Available at nearby cave Elijah, and costs money.
Nearby site activities
You can drive to Bahai Garden Loui Promenade and see the gardens of Bahai, see the port and see Acre from afar. Haifa has a lot to offer. You may take a culinary tour, visit Gratify, visit the Science Museum, visit the zoo, meet local Muslims, Jews and Christians.
Haifa has many beautiful places rich in history and religions. This church with its connection to Elisha is very special. In front of the church is a gravestone symbolizing a mass grave in memory of Napoleon's soldiers who fell ill and remained in the monastery but were assassinated by Ottoman soldiers. Besides, you can see a statue given by the Chilean government in which Mary is seen made of the cannon remains of the civil war in Chile. It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary of Carmel. There is a cable car next to the church, you can use it and enjoy the magnificent views of the sea. It will bring you near the promenade of the Mediterranean Sea. I really recommend taking a day trip to Haifa, you can also visit the beautiful Acre nearby and learn about the Bahai faith.
The church web site: