Carmelite Convent, Outrum Street
For the last 80 years the colonial styled bungalow at 4, Outram Street have served as the residence of the Carmelite Nuns, who barely step out to show themselves to the world.
Its hard to believe that the colonial styled 200 years old bungalow, which once belonged to a Muslim raja, houses a nunnery.
Strangely the structure has remained the same for the last 200 years except for the grotto and the statue of a winged angle in the compound, which were added very recently.
The Order of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel or Carmelites or Carmel is a Roman Catholic order probably founded in 12th century on Mount Carmel, in present day Israel.
The history of the Carmelite Convent on Outram Street, near Park Street, dates back 1929, when the Archbishop of Calcutta, Monsignor Perier, invited the Carmel Sisters, from Belgium, to set up a Carmelite Convent in Calcutta.
Four Carmelite sisters – Theresa Marie, Elizabeth, Anne Marie and Jeanne de la Corix sailed on board the ship Victoria and finally arrived in Calcutta on Nov 12, 1935.
They settled in the Archbishop’s House, next to St. Xavier’s College, in Park Street and started searching for a suitable building to start their operations.
Soon it was learnt that a Muslim raja’s house in the nearby Outrum Street was for sale.
Although the colonial styled house, with big rooms, were not meant for a monastery but the nuns agreed to settle there probably because of the proximity of Archbishop’s house and the St. Xavier’s School and College.
The Carmelite Convent started in 1935 and for the last 80 years the nuns have lived inside the high walled complex.
They have rarely come out to show themselves to the outside world.
Today the Carmelite Convent is a oasis of peace on the Outram Street in the Park Street area.
Only a small portion of the convent is open to public. A statue of a winged angle greats visitors at the entrance. One can walk past the small grotto, lit up with coloured candles and into the small chapel.
The chapel is small but elegant and sunlight filter through the coloured glasses of the skylight creaing a mystic environment.
The two confession windows under the portico are the only means of communication with the nuns, although they will remain behind the veil, their voices could be heard.
Once the thriving Carmel Convent housed 24 sister but today the number is below ten, but it still remains am oasis and is open to people of all faiths and religion.