"But you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too small to be among the clans of Judah, From you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler
in Israel" (Micah 5:1)
On August 20, 1875, ten Carmelites left their monastery in Pau, France, to undertake the founding of a Carmel in Bethlehem. Among them, Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified (Mariam Baouardy), the "Little Arab," was the soul of this small group.
Their benefactor Berthe Dartigaux accompanied them on the voyage, and in May 1879 she returned to live with the community.
It was Mariam, guided by Our Lord, who chose the location of the future Carmel on the hill of David, facing the hill of the Nativity.
The foundation stone was laid on March 24, 1876, when the community was residing in a temporary home close to the Basilica.
Convent life was inaugurated on November 21, 1876, while work on the building continued. Mariam died on August 26, 1878, before its completion.
Mariam wanted the altar placed above the grotto of David where David received the royal anointing from the hand of Samuel.