Our Lady of Mount Carmel

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According to the traditions of the Carmelite order, on July 16, 1251, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock, a Carmelite. During the vision, she revealed to him the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, popularly known as the “Brown Scapular.” A century and a quarter later, the Carmelite order began to celebrate on this date the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

According to legend, a religious community was established even before the time of Christ on Mount Carmel. This is the mountain overlooking the Mediterranean Sea on which the prophet Elijah successfully challenged the priests of Baal and won the people to the true God. The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel entered the Calendar of the universal Church in the early 18th century.

Although there is no historical evidence for the pre-Christian Carmelite community, references in the 12th century record a community of monks on the holy mountain. Despite continual difficulties, the community built a monastery and church dedicated to the Virgin Mary on Mount Carmel in 1263. Saint Louis, King of France, had visited Mount Carmel in 1254, and brought back six French hermits for whom he built a convent near Paris. Mount Carmel was taken by the Saracens in 1291, and the brothers were killed and the convent burned. The spread of the Carmelites in Europe is largely attributable to the work of Saint Simon Stock (1247-65). The Carmelite Order was formally approved in 1274 at the Council of Lyon.

Among the best known Carmelites today are two women: Saint Theresa of Jesus (Theresa of Avila – 1515-1582) who despite many difficulties reformed the Carmelite Order (the Discalced Carmelites); and Saint Edith Stein (Theresa Benedicta of the Cross – 1891-1942), a Jewish convert and philosophy professor, who was killed at Auschwitz, canonized in 1998, and proclaimed “co-patroness” of Europe in 1999.

Comments

3 COMMENTS

  1. I have never heard the word ‘convent’ used when speaking about religious men. I have only heard ‘convent’ when referring to women. Also I believe it is St. Teresa of Avila not Theresa. St. Therese “The Little Flower” Lisieux is a Carmelite saint.

  2. This is the patronal feast of the Carmelite Order. They take their name from Mount Carmel in Palestine, from which the Carmelite hermits later migrated to Europe.

    Legend states that Our Lady gave the brown Carmelite scapular to St. Simon Stock in England on July 16, 1251.

    Between 1376 and 1386 this feast was introduced in commemoration of the approval of the Carmelite Rule by Pope Honorius III in 1226.

    The feast was listed in the Roman Calendar in 1726 and is now celebrated universally throughout the Church.

    The Latin version of the new Opening Prayer asks that through the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin, God will assist us so that “aided by her help along the pathway of life, we may arrive safely at the holy mountain, Jesus Christ.”

    The mention of the “holy mountain” reminds us that Elijah the prophet lived on Mount Carmel with a colony of hermits.

    Throughout Carmelite history Mount Carmel has been the place of Mary’s glory as Mount Tabor was the place of Christ’s transfiguration.

    The antiphon for the Canticle of Zechariah is from Sirach 51: 13-15: “When I was young and innocent, I sought wisdom. She came to me in her beauty, and until the end I will cultivate her. As the blossoms yielded to ripening grapes, the heart’s joy, my feet kept to the level path because from earliest youth I was familiar with her.”

    The antiphon for the Canticle of Mary, from the Gospel according to Luke (2: 51), presents Mary to us as one who heard the word of God and meditated on it in her heart.

    The discourse of St. Leo in the Office of Readings presents Mary to us as she who first conceived Christ in her mind and heart through faith and then in her body as his Mother. She is therefore an excellent model of Christian contemplation.

    Preface (Carmelite Missal):

    Father,
    all-powerful and ever-living God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks,
    as we honor the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Carmel.

    Your Word filled her heart and inspired all her actions,
    making her constant in prayer with the apostles and, through her share in our salvation, constituting her the spiritual mother of all mankind.

    She watches unceasingly with a mother’s loving care over the brethren of her Son,
    and lights us along our pilgrim way to the Mount of your glory,
    our beacon of comfort, and the embodiment of all our hopes as members of the Church.

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