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Carmel-by-the-Sea

Ten years ago I was visiting my son in San Francisco and he asked me where I would like to go. I immediately thought of Carmel City; I had heard of this solely because the famous actor Clint Eastwood had served as Mayor there in the 80s - and of course that sort of thing makes front page news .... But as a Carmelite I now naturally had a particular interest in visiting. It proved to be a delightful little town reminiscent of one of the smarter Continental seaside resorts. It got its name from the fact that a Spanish explorer who investigated the area at the beginning of the seventeenth century named the river in what is now the Carmel Valley 'Rio Carmelo' - because he had three Carmelite chaplains with him on his journey. Apparently the town became an artists' colony after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake discouraged them from staying there any longer. There is a convent of Teresian Sisters close to the town, the Carmel of Our Lady and St Therese. The impressive building was completed in 1931 after the community had spent six years in a temporary building. I was delighted to read that the convent owes its existence to the visit of the Bishop of Monterey-Fresno in Central California to Rome for the canonisation of Therese of Lisieux in 1925. He was so inspired by the new saint that he asked the Holy Father if he could found a Carmelite community in honour of Therese. Just one example of the potential power and influence of a canonisation ....

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