Stella Maris Monastery
The Carmelites are a 12th century Catholic order that took their name from Mount Carmel of the Haifa region. The Carmelites have a particular connection to the prophet Elijah, and the Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery was built over a cave where the Carmelites believe that Elijah once lived. The name Stella Maris means "star of the sea," a reference to a nearby lighthouse that let ships in the area of the Haifa bay know that they were approaching land.
The current monastery and church were built in 1836 after the previous structures were destroyed by the pasha of nearby Akko some 15 years earlier. It’s possible to walk to the site, but visitors can also take the scenic Haifa Cable Car from the Bat Galim Promenade to the upper station on Mount Carmel to approach the monastery.
There is much for Christian pilgrims touring Israel to see here. Above the entrance, look for the impremeuter of the Carmelite order. At the top, a sword is held by Elijah’s arm and the seal includes a verse from First Kings, written in Latin. Note the painted ceilings that portray Elijah ascending to heaven in a fiery chariot; the Hebrew prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel; King David, who is pictured with his harp; along with the Holy Family and the four founders of the Carmelite order. Also look for the statue of St. Mary holding the infant Jesus. Many of the verses that decorate the hall are from the Old Testament.
A highlight of a visit to the Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery is the small cave, no more than 10’x16’, where Elijah is believed to have resided.