The Stella Maris Church is a stunning building with white marble inside walls that are so dazzling and strategically positioned that some onlookers mistakenly believe the walls are painted. The Maltese Carmelite Luigi Poggi (1924–1928) adorned the dome with scenes from the Bible, with Elijah’s ascent to heaven in a fiery chariot standing out as the most notable.

The local Christians have fervent adoration for the figure of the Virgin Mary that is situated in the middle of the main altar and is supported by a pedestal made from a Lebanon cedar. The cave where Elijah allegedly spent some time may be found beneath the altar, according to the Old Testament.

Hermits lived in caves

Berthold imitated the Old Testament prophet Elijah by assembling a small group of hermits who lived in caves on Mount Carmel. The Hermit Brothers of St. Mary of Mount Carmel are the latter name of the group.St. Albert of Jerusalem presented a written regulation to the community in 1206. The same century saw some members  relocate to Europe and form like organizations everywhere from Sicily to Oxford. In 1291, the Saracens slaughtered those who had stayed in the Holy Land.

In 1631, the Carmelites returned to Mount Carmel, and it wasn’t until the 18th century that the Stella Maris Monastery was fully constructed.


Elijah connected to two grottoes

Italian marble with vibrant colors and dramatic paintings in the dome decorate the church’s interior. One of the paintings shows Elijah being carried to heaven in a blazing chariot. Above the altar is a figure of Mary called Our Lady of Mount Carmel made of wood and porcelain.

George David Byers’ Stella Maris Church has a statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel from the Stella Maris Monastery.

There are stairs that descend to a grotto with a modest shrine where it’s said that the Old Testament prophet Elijah once or twice resided. On Mount Carmel, people have inhabited caverns from prehistoric times.

Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery

The current Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery, which was established in 1836, is notable for its beautiful murals depicting St. Elijah.

The inside also has paintings of scenes from the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel’s lives, as well as a cedar figure of the Virgin known as the Madonna of Mt. Carmel.

As a hermetic Catholic group, the Carmelite order was formed on Mount Carmel around 1150. The Carmelite monasteries were destroyed when the order joined with Napoleon in his struggle against the Ottoman Turks in 1799. The grave of the French troops slain during the conflict is located in front of the structure.

The monastery was reconstructed after that, but it was destroyed again in 1821 by the Pasha of Akko (Acre).

Many people come here only for the views, which span across central Haifa and out to sea.

A route runs down from the monastery to the grotto known as Elijah’s cave, which is said to be Elijah’s former home or grave.

Off Tchernikovsky Street in West Haifa

The stunningly painted ceiling and dome within the church feature images of the Holy Family with the four evangelists below, Elijah and the chariot of fire in which he is claimed to have risen to heaven, King David with his harp, the saints of the order, and the prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel, and David.

A pyramid with a wrought-iron cross on top stands as a monument commemorating 200 sick and injured French soldiers who were treated here and were killed by the Ottomans after Napoleon came to Paris in 1799 on the route leading to the church door.

The monastery is reachable by bus 115 from Hadar and Haifa-Hof HaCarmel as well as by cable car from Bat Galim’s coastal promenade.

Like the Old Testament prophet Elijah, St. Berthold gathered a band of solitary people to surround him in the Mount Carmel caves. The Hermit Brothers of St. Mary of Mount Carmel were a tiny hermitage that rose to fame. The community received a command from St. Albert of Jerusalem in 1206. Some members relocated to Europe and started new, smaller groups there.

In 1291, the Saracens massacred those who were still in the Holy Land. The Carmelites eventually went back to Mount Carmel in 1631 and started building the Stella Maris Monastery there. It was finished in the 18th century and constructed with thick walls and restricted window openings to deter criminals while it was being built.

Amazing architecture and exquisite Italian marble may be seen within Stella Maris Church. Above the altar is a porcelain figure of Mary, known as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and the walls are decorated with a picture depicting Elijah’s ascent to heaven in the flaming chariot.

On Mount Carmel, people have lived in caverns for a very long time. It is also said that the prophet Elijah from the Old Testament periodically resided in one of these grottos. 

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