Historic Church Tour #7

November 15, 2007

Port Tobacco, MD

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Gates of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of the Carmel of Port Tobacco. The Carmelite Monastery is a comtemplative or cloistered order, enclosed and hidden from view, the silence favoring prayer with intercession for all.

Port Tobacco was the home of the first Carmel in the United States, established on October 15, 1790, the feast of St. Teresa of Avila. The Carmelites remained in residence until 1831 when they relocated to Baltimore, remaining there for almost 150 years. In 1976 Port Tobacco once again became home for the Carmelite order when six nuns returned here.

Cornerstone showing the Sisters of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel's coat of arms, representing the mountain of Mt. Carmel, where the order began during the time of the Crusades. The three stars represent Mary, Our Mother, who was a Virgin before, during and after the birth of Jesus, therefore, 3 stars.

Public entrance building which contains the gift shop and meeting room.

Even when greeting the public, the Carmelite nuns maintain their sense of solitude by remaining behind a grillwork.

listen to the history of the monastery, with the dividing grillwork behind us.

The religious title of the order is Carmel of Saint Joseph, as depicted by the statue on the outside of the building of St. Joseph holding models of two of the remaining original buildings of the monastery.

Two of the original nine buildings

Portraits of the four foundresses of Carmelite nuns in the United States, Ann Matthews (Sister, later Mother, Bernardina Teresa Xavier of St. Joseph), her nieces Ann Teresa Matthews (Sister Mary Aloysia of the Blessed Trinity) and Susanna Matthews (Sister Mary Eleanora of St. Francis Xavier) and London-born Frances Dickenson (Sister, later Mother, Clare Joseph Dickenson)

Plain style furniture used by the founding nuns.

Grate style confessional used at the time of the original convert.

Restoration in progress of the original building.

Original fireplace

Period kitchen items possibly used by the Carmelite nuns.

17th century convent bell from chapel (possibly Carmelite) in Madrid.

'Family Tree' illustrated on wall listing the Matthews family and the Neale family, both instrumental in the founding of the Carmel of Port Tobacco.

Chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Saying the rosary in the chapel

Gated area to the right of the altar where the sisters sit during Mass.

Stations of the Cross along side the chapel. Notice the flowers left as memorials on the wooden fence. A few grave markers are on the outside of the fence, but most are inside the cloistered area, some dating back hundreds of years.

Large cruifix at the end of the Way of the Cross.

A few grave markers inside the fence.

Large memorial cross marking the 200th anniversay of the Carmel with the order's coat of arms displayed.

Tea time

The Hamilton - Roberts house, built in 1929, formerly the Christ Episcopal Church rectory, now the Royal Tea Room

A Royal welcome

Good friends

Good food

Tea for two

Chandlers Hope, birthplace of Leonard Neale, 2nd Archbishop of Baltimore, and Father Charles Neale, chaplain of the first Carmelite nuns in America.

Modern-day Chandlers Hope, first, although temporary, home of the Carmelite nuns in 1790.

Holy Ghost Church, Issue, Maryland, original church built in 1904, current church built in 1955.

Bell tower

The front entrance area was added to the church just a few years ago.

Holy Family statue

Statue of winged angel holding a shell containing Holy Water in the vestibule.

St. Theresa of Lisieux

Baptistry area in vestibule

Nativity figures

Msgr. Brady greets us for Mass.

First reading

Responsial Psalm

"Lord, hear our prayer."

"This is My Body."

"The Blood of Christ."

Main altar of Holy Ghost Church

Figure of the Holy Spirit at the front of the church

Statue of St. John Vianney

Stained glass window above main doors of vestibule, designed by 8th grader in Holy Ghost Parish showing the Ark and the Dove arriving at St. Clement's Island, site of first Catholic Mass in Maryland in 1634 and a present day work boat on the waters of the local rivers.

St. Francis de Sales chapel of Holy Ghost parish, built for the wedding of Francis Roach and Jenny Lancaster in 1908.

St. Francis Chapel overlooks the meeting of the Wicomico and Potomac Rivers and is not too far from St. Clement's Island.

St. Francis de Sales Chapel

  Photography and Captions by Sharon Seckens

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