Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as patroness of the Carmelite Order. The first Carmelites were Christian hermits living on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land during the late 12th and early to mid-13th centuries. They built a chapel in the midst of their hermitages which they dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, whom they conceived of in chivalric terms as the “Lady of the place”.
Since the 15th century, popular devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel has centered on the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel also known as the Brown Scapular, a sacramental associated with promises of Mary’s special aid for the salvation of the devoted wearer. Traditionally, Mary is said to have given the Scapular to an early Carmelite, St Simon Stock.
The solemn liturgical feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was probably first celebrated in Englandin the later part of the 14th century. Its object was thanksgiving to Mary, the patroness of the Carmelite Order, for the benefits she had accorded to it through its rocky early existence. The institution of the feast may have come in the wake of the vindication of their title “Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary” at Cambridge, England in 1374. The date chosen was July 17, on the European mainland this date conflicted with the feast of St Alexis, necessitating a shift to July 16, which remains the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel throughout the Catholic Church.
Carmelite devotion to Mary
The Carmelites see in the Blessed Virgin Mary a perfect model of the interior life of prayer and contemplation to which Carmelites aspire, a model of virtue, as well as the person who was closest in life to Jesus Christ. She is seen as the one who points Christians most surely to Christ, saying to all what she said to the servants at the wedding at Cana, “Do whatever he tells you”. Carmelites look to Mary as both a Spiritual Mother and Sister in Christ. The Stella Maris Monastery on Mount Carmel, named after a traditional title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is considered the spiritual headquarters of the order.
Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, OCD, a revered authority on Carmelite spirituality, wrote that devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel means:
“A special call to the interior life, which is pre-eminently a Marian life. Our Lady wants us to resemble her not only in our outward vesture but, far more, in heart and spirit. If we gaze into Mary’s soul, we shall see that grace in her has flowered into a spiritual life of incalculable wealth: a life of recollection, prayer, uninterrupted oblation to God, continual contact, and intimate union with him. Mary’s soul is a sanctuary reserved for God alone, where no human creature has ever left its trace, where love and zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind reign supreme. Those who want to live their devotion to Our Lady of Mt Carmel to the full must follow Mary into the depths of her interior life. Carmel is the symbol of the contemplative life, the life wholly dedicated to the quest for God, wholly orientated towards intimacy with God; and the one who has best realized this highest of ideals is Our Lady herself, ‘Queen and Splendor of Carmel’.”
To all our Carmelite Friars and Sisters we wish a Blessed Feast Day! – Rosana Gonzales – Archdiocesan Catechetical Office
(Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)