Our Lady of Mount CarmelLaurence Tiblis
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Mary, the Blessed Mother, is known by many different titles within the Christian tradition. Among these exalted names, Our Lady of Mount Carmel has become one of the most-recognized and most-venerated.
HOMAGE TO OUR LADY OF MT. CARMEL
At least 40 cities/towns around the world are named Our Lady of Mount Carmel, including 27 in the U.S. Dozens of churches, schools, and burial grounds from Chile and China to India and Russia also bear the name. Our Lady of Mount Carmel—through her brown scapular—is an integral component of the traditions surrounding First Holy Communion.
The devotion’s origins originate at an Israeli biblical worship site and a 13th-century English priest’s experience of a Marian apparition.
A PLACE OF SALVATION
Today, the original Mount Carmel rises 1,724 feet above Israel’s Mediterranean coast overlooking Haifa. In biblical times, it was the place where the prophet, Elijah, lived with hermits, who prayed to God for salvation.
The Book of Kings indicates that during a severe drought, Elijah instructed his servant to ascend the mountain to pray. Six times, the servant climbed the mountain, but saw no rain. However, on the seventh try, the servant observed a cloud like a man’s hand rise from the sea. Rainstorms soon followed, saving the people of Israel. Elijah interpreted this as a sign from the Lord that a virgin mother would give birth to the Messiah.
ORDER OF THE BROTHERS
During the Third Crusade, a group of monks formed the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. Like the late 12th century Carmelite hermits, they identified Elijah and Our Lady of Mount Carmel as their patron saints.
Since then, apparitions of Our Lady of Mount Carmel have been reported in Italy (1841), Portugal (1917), and Spain (1961-65). But perhaps the most renowned instance occurred in England in 1251 involving Simon Stock, a prior general of the Carmelites. Later accounts described the appearance of Mary, who held the child, Jesus, in one arm and a brown scapular in the other. Simon was canonized in 1664.
As such, the brown scapular is an essential element of the Carmelite habit and a sacramental worn by laity. Even today, a miniature version of the garment is routinely bestowed upon Catholic children in preparations for First Holy Communion. The modern version consists of two small pieces of brown cloth. Religious images may be sewn onto the cloth pieces, often depicting Our Lady as she appeared to St. Simon.
Those seeking Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s intercession for a special intention may request her graces through this prayer:
O most beautiful flower of Mount Carmel,
fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me herein and show me here you are my Mother.
O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and Earth,
I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to succor me in my necessity.
There are none that can withstand thy power.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. (recite three times)
Holy Mary, I place this cause in your hands. (recite three times)
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