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1964: the Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism receives an enthusiastic welcome in the Carmel of Nancy; then, with the agreement of the community, the Prioress, Mother Elisabeth, considers founding an Eastern-rite Carmel.
Little by little, the details of the project are worked out; it is encouraged by the Superiors of the Order and receives Pope Paul VI's blessing.
After friendly consultations with several representatives of the Orthodox Church in France, a statute approved by the Bishop allows the Sisters who are committed to the project to pray the Byzantine-rite Office.

1971: This "Eastern branch" transfers to the Carmel in Nogent-sur-Marne, close to Paris, enabling the Sisters to become better acquainted with Orthodox Christianity and to be trained in iconography.

1974: With the authorisation of the Bishops of Nancy and Dijon, the Monastery of Saint Elijah is founded in Saint-Remy (Cote d'Or) by four Carmelites from Nancy. It is situated on the ecumenical route from Bussy, where there is an Orthodox monastery, to Taize.

1986: The Monastery is canonically established within the Carmelite Order, under the jurisdiction of the Ordinary for Eastern-rite Catholics in France, who delegates his authority to the Bishop of Dijon.

1991: Following requests from friends coming from different Christian traditions, the Fraternity of Saint Elijah is established.

1994: Foundation of a skete (small monastery linked with another monastery) in Romania, in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains.

Mother Elisabeth

Born on November 18, 1903, at Remiremont, into a deeply Christian family, Marie Roussel was the eldest of four children.
Entering the Carmel of Nancy on July 16, 1926, Marie was clothed on January 20, 1927, taking the name Marie Elisabeth of the Trinity. She made her temporary profession on June 7, 1928, and final profession three years later.
On October 4, 1933, she was allowed to leave the Carmel in Nancy to respond to an appeal by the Bishop of Chongqing. She was to be Prioress of Chongqing Carmel from 1948 to 1952.

Through living in China, in a cultural milieu very different from that of her native Lorraine, and being a person of great openness, she was a pioneer in the areas of ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue. She suffered because of the divisions among Christians in their encounter with the Buddhist world.

Expelled from China as a result of the Revolution, she returned to the Carmel in Nancy, where she was Prioress from 1952 to 1973. The Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism encouraged her to give concrete expression to her desire to work for Unity, through founding a Carmel dedicated to prayer for Unity "so that the world may believe."

In the Carmel of Nogent-sur-Marne she rejoined the three Sisters from Nancy, who had already spent a year there with a view to founding such a Carmel. In accordance with her intuition, it would be a Byzantine-rite foundation, so that through prayer and spirituality it could reach out to Orthodoxy at its deepest level.

The Carmel in Saint Remy was founded in 1974. It was there that she would write the story of her life in China, which would be published after her death.

She "fell asleep in the light", to use her own words, on June 15, 1996. By the way she lived, she has bequeathed to us a message of faith, hope and love.

Download the brochure published in memory of Mother Elisabeth (in French)